Interior Minister defends handling of gay pride incidents

  • 2006-07-26
  • By TBT staff

IN MY OWN DEFENSE: In an interview on July 26, Interior Minister Dzintars Jaundzeikars said he was happy with the way police had handled the gay pride festival and said his department was investigating possible ringleaders of the attacks on July 22.

A report from Latvian security services on the incidents that broke out on July 22 during gay pride festivities named suspected ringleaders of gay bashing incidents, Interior Minister Dzintars Jaundzeikars said in an interview with LNT on July 26.

The minister would not name anyone specifically and said it was premature to speak about punishing those responsible for the incidents. "All organizers will be made accountable," he said. "From both sides."

The minister said he was satisfied with the work of the police during July 22 events, as policemen had to endure intense psychological pressure. "In fact, they were the ones who suffered most. They were pelted with eggs and excrements. The pressure was enormous, and it was hard to resist taking sides," the minister said.

The interior minister also said that, quite possibly, somebody in Latvia or elsewhere in the world is interested in seeing public disorder during these events, though he didn't name anyone specifically. "Therefore I reiterate one more time that our police force did a great job and anything of that kind was prevented from happening in Latvia," the minister said.

Jaundzeikars has been sharply criticized by Latvia's leading gay rights organization Mozaika as well as by several members of the media for his handling of the gay pride parade. Though there had been many warnings of possible violence during the festivities, Jaundzeikars was not in Riga during the festival. Linda Freimane, Mozaika's most visible member, has publicly called for his dismissal. A petition calling for his resignation has gathered about 1,000 signatures.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga refrained from criticizing Jaundzeikars or any other member of the government directly for the handling of the gay pride day in a press conference on July 25. She said it was up to the head of the government to decide if any official should have to leave office.