Head of the Latvian state would like to eliminate all legal loopholes that still make it possible to “glorify Soviet totalitarianism”
President of Latvia Egils Levits refused to sign amendments of the national law on public events that deal with wearing symbols and uniforms of “totalitarian regimes”. The bill was returned to Saeima for reconsideration.
What caused the Latvian leader’s objection was the provision that regional administrations were to decide themselves whether such symbols might be appropriate on some occasions. In the past, there were big Victory Day celebrations and concerts in Riga, Daugavpils and other municipalities where Russian-speaking population prevailed on the 9th of May, featuring Soviet military costumes.
The president insists that administrative liability should be spread to not only organizers of such events but also their participants and even spectators (i.e. veterans wearing Soviet caps with badges, shoulder boards, or military decorations).
Earlier, the Latvian Saiema approved the third reading of amendments to the Law on Meetings, Streets Processions and Pickets. It happened on April 23, 2020, on the verge of the 75th VE Day anniversary. The amendments introduced a ban on wearing Soviet uniforms (or elements of uniforms unequivocally associated with the Soviet armed forces or law enforcement agencies, such as insignia, badges, shoulder boards, etc.) at public events. Breaking the ban is punishable by a warning or fine, up to €70 for individuals and €580 for companies.
The corresponding amendments were the initiative of the far-right All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom / Latvian National Independence Movement, a member of the ruling political coalition. Representatives of the nationalist bloc stressed that if this initiative was adopted, Russian veterans would be banned from appearing on May 9 events wearing Soviet uniform.