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Latvia: Several detained for glorifying Russian invasion of Ukraine

In Latvia, six people had been detained on Tuesday in connection with violations related to World War II Victory Day celebrated by the Russians that same day, police reported, adding that the letters “V” and “Z”, symbols of Russian propaganda used in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had been spotted in some public places.

Latvia celebrates the end of World War II on May 8 and Europe Day on May 9. About a quarter of the country’s population are ethnic Russians. Some of them had gathered for years in Riga every 9th of May in front of the “so-called” Victory Monument. The Soviet-made structure was dismantled last summer, as were many other Soviet memorials.

Five people were detained for attempting to lay flowers at the site of the dismantled monument in Riga. One of them was detained for trying to arrange a symbol of the Russian invasion of Ukraine out of flowers in front of the site of the Freedom Monument in the center of the Latvian capital.

Reinforced police patrols have been cordoning off the site and the area is fenced off. Traffic has been restricted in the vicinity of the site. Police were also seen in front of the Russian Embassy in Riga and around the Pushkin monument, which the capital’s authorities have also been eyeing for removal from the city center.

A total of nine administrative and one criminal proceedings have been opened in the context of the illegal commemoration activities, the police reported, as quoted by the LSM portal. The reported incidents are related to glorifying Russian aggression by way of demonstration of banned symbols in public places.

A criminal case was launched in connection with the spraying of the “Congratulations on Victory Day” slogan on a welcoming sign on the border of the Bolderaja district of Riga. The sign has already been washed up, LSM reported. The letters propagandist “V” and “Z” symbols also appeared in other public places, LETA reported.

In Daugavpils, “objects glorifying the war” were placed in a cemetery, police reported.

Earlier, police warned that placing flowers on the sites of dismantled Soviet monuments would be treated as glorification of these objects, and this kind of support for Russian aggression would not be tolerated. According to a decision by Latvia’s parliament, public entertainment and festive events, e.g. marches, assemblies, and pickets, which are contrary to the purpose of the adopted legislation, may not be organized on May 9. The use of fireworks has also been banned. Nevertheless, events expressing solidarity with Ukraine are allowed.

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