A Year of Prison Because of a Referendum on the Russian Language in Latvia

On October 8th a regular hearing of the Vidzeme court took place. At a hearing the prosecutor made an accusation concerning my now five-year-old publications on Facebook. He accused me of inciting hatred towards American tanks as a special form of ethnos and protesting against the holding of a procession on March 16th as a form of glorification of Nazism in Latvia. I thought that my publications on Facebook had an anti-war and anti-fascist character. The prosecutor accused me of inciting hatred towards the citizens of the US and the Baltic countries. The fact that citizens are identical to ethnos he didn’t doubt.

The Prosecutor did not go into the content of the published texts. He identified the Latvian legionaries of Waffen SS troops with the Latvian people in accordance with the prevailing doctrine; he identified American tanks with the American ethnos; he identified Latvian journalists with the Latvian ethnos in general; he identified the ruling Baltic elite with certain Baltic ethnoses too. And attributed to Baltic ethnoses for some reason only Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians, and ignored all others as foreigners.

And so, despite the logical error of concept substitution in the assessment of all seven episodes incriminated to me, the prosecutor demanded to sentence me to 22 months of real imprisonment. The argument was such – that I don’t commit criminal actions from now on. Why a more humane measure of punishment – chopping off my hands so that I don’t published on Facebook – wasn’t demanded, it’s not clear.

Some hints at the position of the prosecutor are given by his persistent appeal at the court session concerning the case file. He wasn’t too lazy to read the reference of the security police on me. So in this reference it is mentioned that I am an enemy of national security as I was one of organisers of a referendum for ensuring the status of Russian as the second state language in 2012. It’s nothing that the referendum was held according to the constitution and laws of Latvia, that it was organised by the Latvian government, that the vast majority of Latvian citizens took part in it. This is a crime, according to the ruling elite and the Prosecutor’s office expressing their opinion. They waited seven long years in order to punish via the forces of the suppression apparatus those who defended the right to preserve their ethnicity, who acted quite legally.

Why bother with evidence in any case? You can simply send to jail for more than a year those who do not agree with forced assimilation.

Aleksandr Gaponenko

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