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Latvian president asks not to hamper Waffen SS veterans' rally in Riga

Latvian president Andris Berzins has urged the people not to impede a rally that Latvian Waffen SS veterans plan to hold in the center of Riga on March 16, unofficially celebrated in the country as the day of the Latvian Legion of Waffen SS.

"I want to ask not to prevent these people from organizing a commemorative event," he said in an interview to Latvian television on Thursday.

This year the Riga City Council has received three applications for a rally on March 16. The organization of the legion's veterans, Daugavpils Hawks in Latvia, is planning a traditional march together with young radical supporters towards the Freedom Monument. Near the stele they are traditionally met by Russian-speaking anti-Nazi activists who oppose the event.

The Nazis established two Latvian divisions within Waffen SS in 1943. After Latvia's secession from the USSR, March 16 was the official commemorative date for several years. After a highly negative reaction to rallies of former SS soldiers in Riga's center in both Russia and Western countries, the day was removed from the official list of holidays.

[Source: Itar Tass, Riga, 27Feb14]

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