City Council bans Legionnaires Day events

  • 2010-03-08
  • Oskars Magone

Last year's events saw more than a dozen people detained as flower-layers and demonstrators shouted insults. (photo: Monika Hanley)

RIGA -- The Riga City Council has introduced a complete ban on events surrounding the Freedom Monument during this year's Legionnaires Day, which takes place on March 16. 

The day has previously been used by former soldiers from the Latvian Legion to remember their fellow warriors who fell during the second World War. The Latvian Legion fought against Soviet forces on the side of Nazi Germany.

The former soldiers have in the past marked the day by laying wreaths of flowers at the Freedom Monument.

A demonstration is usually organized by various pro-Russian organizations against the ceremony, which they consider as tacit support for the Nazi regime.

Last year about 13 people protesting the event were detained by police. Some members of the demonstration were seen unfurling a Communist flag - a banned symbol in Latvia. 

The ban comes during the city's first stint with with a pre-Russian rights party at the helm of the City Council.

A total of 140,000 people were called up to form the Latvian Legion and about 50,000 of them died in the war or deportations following the restoration of Soviet rule in Latvia.

In 1950 Washington published a declaration about Baltic SS legions having being special units to be distinguished from other German SS troops and not regarded as movements harmful to the United States government.