Riga City Council bans May 9 "Russian march"

  • 2014-05-07
  • from wire reports, LETA

Riga City Council

The Riga City Council's Executive Director Juris Radzevics (Honor to Serve Riga), following the Security Police's recommendations, has banned the association "Rodina" (Motherland - Russian) from organizing the so-called "Russian march" on May 9.

The association said it would contest the municipality's decision in court.

As reported, the Security Police has recommended the Riga City Council to ban the "Russian march" on May 9, pointing out that the event could be a substantial threat to public order, which could in turn lead to possible unrest.

According to information obtained by LETA, the Security Police has warned that the "Russian march" could be attended by more persons than officially mentioned in the application, and that participants of the march could include various radicals and persons wishing to provoke confrontations.

The Security Police also point out that participating in the march could be members of the local Cossack association "Pribaltijskij kazacij krug", who like to attend various events dressed in Cossack uniforms and carrying Cossack flags. Even though there is no ban on wearing military uniforms during public events in Latvia, Security Police suggest the participation of these persons could cause negative repercussions amongst society.

The Security Police points out that Russian Cossack organizations are closely connected to Russia's interests, as many of these so-called Cossacks voluntarily participate in Russian military conflicts. A good example of this can be recently seen in Ukraine, where these Cossacks actively participated in activities aimed against Ukrainian territorial integrity.

There could also be attempts by "Rodina" to use former USSR, Latvian SSR and Nazi-German flags and symbols during the march, which are forbidden according to Latvian law.

The Security Police points out that the activities of "Rodina" are aimed at dividing the Latvian public, creating ideological differences, as well as inciting ethnic tensions and intolerance among the population. The organization's aim is to demonstrate Russian superiority, while at the same time indirectly denying the Latvian nation and language.
"Rodina" has published invitations to the march in various social networking sites, where it states that Russians are the oldest inhabitants of Latvia, and the Russian language is the state language. At the same time, the organization also claims that 60 percent of the residents of Riga are Russian, while 40 percent of residents of Latvia are Russian. "Riga - our city, Latvia - our country. Russians, do not give up!" the organization writes.

The organization's website also includes calls by European Parliament Member Tatjana Zdanoka for demonstrations, as well as other aggressive statements from organization members that Latvians "are the enemy".

Reacting to these calls for unrest, poet Liana Langa turned to the Security Police on May 3, urging not to let the march go ahead as planned during May 9 events. "I urge you not to allow these hostile persons march on May 9 and attempt to divide the Latvian public," Langa said, adding that the organization has based its "rally call" on falsehoods and aggression, reports LETA.

Former Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Liene Cipule has also turned to the Security Police, pointing out that the "Russian march" is using mendacity and propaganda in order to attract persons to participate in their rally. She adds that the organization's website also includes a video, which openly distorts various facts of Latvian history, and calls for local Russian to take back "what is theirs".

Cipule points out that Russian are not the oldest inhabitants of the territory of Latvia, and that, furthermore, according to the Central Statistical Bureau, 39.51 percent of Riga residents are ethnic Russians, not 60 percent. She also added that ethnic Russian make of 26.9 percent of the population, not 40 percent. She points out that based on these lies, the organization is deliberately spreading untruths in an attempt to "call people out to the streets". Cipule added that not only should this event be prohibited, but the organizers should also be punished for inciting national ethnic and racial hatred.