More than hooliganism

  • 2008-02-27
Dear Baltic Times:

The English speaking community in the Baltic nations, especially its British, are greatly in the debt of The Baltic Times. You publish information which those of us who are not able to read Latvian or Lithuanian would not ordinarily hear about. Thank you.
You informed us in your 13 February 2008 edition, that yet another British national was arrested for urinating on the Freedom Monument in the early hours of 3 February.

Allow me the courtesy of your columns to apologise unreservedly for this dastardly conduct by a British subject 's I will not deign to describe him as a citizen 's which amounts to nothing short of sacrilege.
I am particularly embarrassed since with the help of our former British ambassador to Estonia and Latvia, to whom I am very grateful, I set in place in the Church of the Holy Spirit, Tallinn and in St. Saviours Church, Riga monuments to the 112 British Servicemen who gave their lives for Estonia and Latvian freedom 90 years ago.
This year with the wholehearted and most welcome support of the current Ambassador to Latvia, Mr. Richard Moon, the families of HMS Dragon who sustained 9 fatalities on 17 October 1919 on the River Daugava, and myself are assembling an exhibition which we will gift to the Latvian Navy.

In the light of the revolting display of a lack of courtesy by one of our fellow citizens, I for one would not take it amiss if the Latvian authorities throw our gift back in our faces.
Allow me two points concerning your article. You mention that the man was charged with petty hooliganism and fined 50 lats (71.14 euros)

First, you decided not to publish his name. You were too generous. In future pray, 'Name and Shame'.
Your counterparts in the British press would be encouraged to do the same in national and local newspapers.
Second, let the punishment fit the crime. The crime was more than hooliganism, it was the desecration of a sacred monument, sacred to both the Latvians and the British. Should an individual behave like this in London and desecrate the Cenotaph, our most sacred monument, the London magistrates would take a very grave view indeed. A weekend tourist who can afford to fly to Riga or Tallinn has 'money to burn'. A far [worse] still penalty would be warmly welcomed by British citizens in Estonia and Latvia.
I greatly welcome the initiatives by 'The Responsible Tourism campaign' by both the former Ambassador Mr Ian Bond and the current Ambassador Mr Richard Moon, but I believe that the British in London must now play a more active role in combating this outrageous misconduct.

Not only have I written to you, but I am writing to Megg Munn, Parliamentary Undersec-retary of State, Foreign Office setting out the problem and inviting her to apologise to His Excellency Mr. Indulis Berzins, The Latvian Ambassador to the United Kingdom (I have already done so), and offering to send out to Riga a police officer of sufficient rank and experience in dealing with this type of crime, to investigate, report and make recommendations on how best to deal with such incidents should they reoccur in the future. The costs of this investigation, of course, to be met by the British Government.

In summary, I apologise to the Latvian people, especially to those in Riga. I congratulate the police of Riga in bringing the miscreant to justice as I thank The Baltic Times for their prompt and accurate reporting.

The Earl of Carlisle;
Patron, Baltic Council of Great Britain
21 February 2008

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