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Riga authorities sanction marches of SS veterans, anti-fascists on March 16

The Riga parliament has sanctioned marches in the Latvian capital on March 16, unofficially marked as a commemoration day for the Latvian Waffen SS Legion, for SS veterans as well as for Russian-speaking anti-fascists, Latvian Duma parliamentarian Ugis Vidauskis told TASS on Friday.

Upon consultations with security agencies and the organizers of the events, the Riga Duma allowed three actions requested for March 16. In one of the events, the organization of Latvian Legion veterans will stage in central Riga a traditional march of former Latvian legionnaires and their young allies to the Freedom Monument, a memorial honoring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence of 1918-1920.

A counter-action of the Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee will take place nearby. "I want to emphasize that the Riga Duma does not issue permissions, but coordinates the submitted requests for public events," Vidauskis said.

"To avoid confrontation between supporters of opposite views, we wanted to find a compromise this year so that all announced events could take place and so that everyone could have their say," the parliamentarian said.

The Latvian Legion was a formation of the Waffen-SS during World War II created in 1943 and consisting primarily of ethnic Latvian soldiers. The legion consisted of two divisions. After Latvia stopped being part of the Soviet Union, March 16 for several years remained an official remembrance day.

However, after a march of SS-men through the center of the Latvian capital caused outrage in Russia and in the West, the decision was made to delete it from the list of commemorative dates.

[Source: Itar Tass, Riga, 04Mar16]

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