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Victory Day flowers stir battle between authorities and residents in Baltic nation

Riga residents ignored official warnings and stored bringing flowers to a Soviet struggle memorial

Police in Latvia have blocked entry to the Liberators of Riga monument as Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins expressed his frustration at metropolis residents twice making a carpet of flowers, regardless of authorities’ makes an attempt to forestall and take away it.

Latvian police introduced on Wednesday that “in order to prevent endangering public safety” and to keep away from “possible provocations” that they had determined to shut public entry to Victory Park the place the monument is situated. It was defined, that following “the events of May 9 and especially May 10,” when a crowd gathered near the monument. In the opinion of the Latvian authorities, the location “is most directly related to the continuation of Latvia’s occupation after the Second World War and is actually perceived by society as a symbol of the Soviet regime.

On May 9, when former Soviet republics rejoice Victory Day, flowers introduced in by the town’s residents had been eliminated by a tractor. 

In response, on May 10, folks introduced much more flowers to the monument. In the night the State Police Special Task Battalion was deployed to disperse a 500-strong crowd on the sq.. In a press release the police stated that any gatherings on the sq. can be thought of as an expression of “support for the Russian Federation,” apparently linking occasions of the Second World War with the present Russian navy operation in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins took to social media on Tuesday to say that “disrespect towards Latvian statehood, historical experience and victims of the Russian War in Ukraine is not acceptable.”

What is happening in Pardaugava (Riga’s area) today is not excusable. I am waiting for responsible services actions and the explanation of the Minister of Interior Marija Golubeva,” he wrote.

It stays to be clarified what precisely induced the prime minister’s displeasure.

Russian Ambassador to Latvia Mikhail Vanin referred to as the actions of the Latvian authorities over the past days an expression of “stupidity.”

What happened on May 10 early in the morning showed the stupidity, cowardice, and pettiness of the authorities. A tractor raking fresh flowers and burning candles was spotted near the monument, this footage quickly spread on social networks, and the next day, May 10, even more people came to the monument,” the ambassador stated in a TV interview on Wednesday.

Commenting on the information in regards to the police blocking entry to the sq., Vanin claimed that the Latvian authorities “were scared of the scale of support, the scale of gratitude of the inhabitants of Riga to the soldiers-liberators.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, stated that the Liberators of Riga is “a monument to which people carried, carry and will carry flowers, no matter what the local authorities come up with.”

In Zakharova’s opinion, the actions of the residents of the Latvian capital, regardless of all obstacles, demonstrated “true people power.

This is a powerful, strong gesture that demonstrates the rejection of the rewriting of history and of the desacralization of the memory of people who gave their lives for our future,” she stated.

World War II-related points have lengthy been a reason behind pressure between Riga and Moscow.

Latvian authorities have argued that whereas the Latvian legion, the truth is, technically fought on Hitler’s aspect, most of its members understood their position as combating to regain independence for Latvia. Being a part of the German navy forces was the one means of stopping the return of Soviet occupation. Moscow has condemned the commemorations of the Latvian Legionnaires.

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