Radical newspaper faces charges

  • 2006-03-23
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - A controversial case involving articles published in the radical Latvian newspaper DDD (De-occupation, De-colonization, De-bolshevization) has reached the Riga Prosecutor's Office. On March 22, Security Police sent the a report, which accuses the paper of inciting ethnic hatred, to prosecutors, requesting a criminal case against Latvian National Front leader Aivars Garda, the newspaper's publisher.

A case will also be brought against DDD editor-in-chief Liga Muzikante, the Baltic News Service reported. The case focuses on two articles published last spring in DDD's Russian-language supplement, said Security Police spokeswoman Kristine Apse-Krumina. The articles were titled "Compensation for Uncovering Terrorist Acts!" and "Let's Live Friendly! Therefore Go Home! Motherland Calls You! I Love Russians but Dislike Occupants!"
Under Latvian law, the punishment for inciting ethnic hatred is up to three years in prison.
In his defense, Garda told the Baltic News Service that "it is difficult to comment on this absurdity." He said the case against him was "fabricated," adding that police did not listen to the Latvian National Front's opinion and avoided any discussion. The state was "bent on having us jailed," Garda said.
"They don't want to listen to us, only to use force because they know that they would lose to us in a debate," the publisher added.
He said the criminal case opened against him reminded him of Soviet-era repressions against dissidents: "The state power had decided to follow in Russia's footsteps."
"There is no other option but to fight in court. One must fight for justice," he added.
The Russian-language supplement to DDD was distributed last spring in Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia with a predominantly Russian-speaking population. The paper referred to Russians as "cancer cells," "occupants" and "Latvia's external enemies."
Security Police opened a criminal case over those publications in July 2005.