New nationalist party formed by radical youth group

  • 2006-01-18
  • By Aaron Eglitis

EXTREME: Dzintars, leader of All for Latvia, hopes to ensure that political power remains in the hands of Latvians 'forever.'

RIGA - Raivis Dzintars, leader of the nationalist youth organization Visu Latvijai (All for Latvia), inaugurated the club's transformation from a patriotic organization to a political party on Jan. 14. During the party's founding congress, Dzintars called for all nationalist forces in the country to join together in this year's parliamentary elections to ensure that political power remains in the hands of Latvians "forever."

While the new party has few people other than Dzintars, who writes a column in the nationalist daily Latvijas Avize, who are widely known, a number of politicians from right-wing parties were present at the congress.

The new party will enter an already crowded playing field among right-wing parties, including established bulwarks like For Fatherland and Freedom and the People's Party. Many have pointed out that the older, more established parties lack the youthful vigor of All for Latvia.

Last year, All for Latvia held a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy where it burned a Soviet flag and called for Russia to acknowledge the Soviet occupation of the three Baltic states.

All for Latvia's platform includes expelling people that are disloyal to the country and strengthening the role of the Latvian language in society.

"We represent an error in a cynical plan, which stipulated that the new generation of Latvians would have no national memory," Dzintars said at the founding congress.

All for Latvia has made a name for itself by burnishing its nationalist credentials. Last year, the group publicly supported the legionnaire procession and dramatically opposed the country's first gay pride parade, alongside a host of both Russian and Latvian radical groups. The party also held a memorial service outside the monument of pre-war leader Karlis Ulmanis, honoring the day he consolidated power in a coup in 1934.

"It's time that we admit the experiment in integration is not advantageous and has become an obstacle for Latvians and other loyal non-Latvians in Latvia," added party deputy chairman Dimitrijs Mironovs. "Each non-Latvian has only two paths: love this land and assimilate into Latvian society or leave the country."

Attending the party congress were New Era faction head Karlis Sadurskis, Juris Dobelis of For Fatherland and Freedom and Aleksandrs Kirsteins, former head of Parliament's foreign affairs committee who was expelled from the People's Party for his seemingly anti-Semitic outbursts.

Visvaldis Lacis, a well-known nationalist writer was also present.

All for Latvia desperately wants to join a common electoral list with the older and more established For Fatherland and Freedom, but the party has so far turned down all offers.

"For Fatherland wants to be known as the nationalist option, the center of gravity for those thinking that way," political scientist Janis Ikstens said, adding that For Fatherland may not want to let a new party with no history and no political platform outside of nationalism join its ranks.

Kirsteins said that a combined nationalist list could gain as many as 30 seats in the 100 seat Parliament, counting this next Parliament as the last chance for nationalist-minded parties to take big gains. Sadurskis told the crowd that his party, currently the largest in Parliament, would be ready to work together with All for Latvia.

It is still unclear if Kirsteins, considered to be one of the more popular politicians with the nationalist voter bloc, will join with All for Latvia or rejoin For Fatherland, a party he was previously expelled from.

Kirsteins remains an unaligned member of Parliament after the People's Party expelled him for his comments.

Prior to his death, Edvards Berklavs, a former communist official turned independence activist, called for nationalist minded parties to work together in a joint list to optimize the number of seats available, setting an example that All for Latvia hopes to follow