25.04.2005 MEP outrage at Riga protest violence - Police clash with anti-Nazi protestors
Brussel, 16 March 2005,
EFA press release by Tatjana Zdanoka MEP
Latvian Euro-MP Tatjana Zdanoka has expressed her outrage at the heavy handed tactics used by police in Riga today in breaking up an anti-Nazi protest and detaining protestors that included members of Parliament.
The anti-Nazi protestors included members of Ms Zdanoka's party, For Human Rights in a United Latvia, which represents the country's significant Russian speaking population. Two MPs from her party were briefly detained by police and three members of Riga City Council were detained for several hours.
The protestors tried to prevent Waffen SS veterans marching along the streets of Riga. Today - March 16 - is the day when traditionally former Latvian soldiers who fought during the Second World War on the side of Nazi Germany commemorate the deaths of Latvian SS members killed fighting the Red Army.
Some two hundred SS veterans marched to Riga's Freedom memorial to lay flowers. Protestors from the "Russian National Union" NGO dressed in striped prison clothes bearing yellow stars to remind people of atrocities carried out in Latvia by the SS. They formed a human chain to try to block the march by SS veterans.
Tatjana Zdanoka MEP said:
"I was outraged at the conduct of police who detained peaceful protestors who were trying to halt this awful march. It is a disgrace that anti Nazi protestors should be held by police to allow former Waffen SS members to march through the streets of Riga.
I am particularly concerned about the reported comments of Latvia's Prime Minister Kalvitis that my party is at fault for protesting in the first place. We make no apologies for standing up to fascists.
Today's events in Riga will do no good for Latvia's image in the European Union as a country of tolerance and respect for human rights."
For further press information, please contact:
EFA Press Officer
The European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
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