Latvian police block pro-Nazi parade

  • 2010-07-07
  • Oskars Magone

Participants had planned to lay flowers at the Freedom Monument to mark the Nazi occupation of Latvia.

RIGA - Latvian police have stopped a pro-Nazi parade from taking place in the country's capital after the event was condemned by the national government, municipal authorities and Jewish rights organizations.

The prime minister, foreign minister and president condemned the event, which would have commemorated Nazi troops ousting Russian forces to take control of the country.

"The President believes that this provocative event, which is to be held at the symbol of Latvian statehood  - the Freedom Monument, is a mockery of the country’s independence," a press release from the office of the Latvian president said in the run-up to the event.

Police were legally able to disperse the parade after it's organizer, Uldis Freimanis, failed to show up. The few dozen people who turned out for the event were vastly outnumbered by demonstrators, journalists, and police.

The march was planned just a few days before Avigdor Lieberman became the first Israeli foreign minister to visit Latvia since the country regained independence.

Lieberman praised the Latvian government's reaction to the procession, but later told reporters that "the lession is that the Jewish people must always be prepared to defend themselves.”