Latvia backs ex-Nazis

The annual march of former Latvian Waffen SS members in Riga went off without incident. The police averted any serious clashes, even though they arrested three anti-Nazi campaigners of Russian descent.

After a church service in the old part of the city, the ex-SS members laid flowers to the monument of Liberty on the anniversary of the Latvian division of the Waffen SS. The march, though banned by the Riga Assembly, was backed by the Administrative Court and Interiour Minister Linda Murnitse, who claimed that it posed no threat and that VD [Victory Day] celebrations on May 9th are much more dangerous.

Safely under the wing of the police, the former Nazi collaborators faced no particular resistance, but for the angry slogans and outspoken curses from the public. According to Russian political analyst Nadezhda Arbatova, it's up to the EU to respond to such outrageous instances of the glorification of the Nazis:

"As a member of the European Union, which embraces moral values and principles formed in the tragic years of the Second World War, Latvia ought to comply. There can be no exceptions".

In the meantime, Latvia seems to be challenging the whole of Europe and the rest of the world community on the issue. At a time when all anti-Hitler coalition countries condemn Nazism, justifying SS marches by democratic principles looks ridiculous.

The Waffen SS has long been known worldwide as a criminal organization, and the UN Commission for Human Rights decries any attempts to glorify its veterans. A total disregard for the genuine war heroes in Latvia raises the question of sanctions against it, particularly in the light of the upcoming celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the Allied Victory in the Second World War, an occasion shared by dozens of anti-Hitler coalition countries.

[Source: Voice of Russia, Moscow, 16Mar10]

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