How Russophobic Latvian Deputies Try to Prosecute Russian Language Defender Aleksandr Gaponenko

On December 11th the latest hearing of the Vidzeme court of Riga concerning the definition of me as an enemy of the Latvian people took place. Let me remind you that the process was initiated by the leadership of “National Alliance”. The Prosecutor sent the case for further investigation for four months.

What do I want to say about this?

Two years in prison for a Latvian Professor for anti-fascist remarks

The Latvian Prosecutor spoke at the hearing on October 8th 2019 in the Vidzeme district court of Riga and brought against the Professor Aleksandr Vladimirovich Gaponenko charges of inciting ethnic hatred towards Americans, Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians in connection with the publication of 7 posts on a Facebook page in February-March 2015. The charges were brought in accordance with paragraph 2 of article 78 of the Criminal Law of Latvia. For the Professor’s anti-fascist and anti-militarist statements, the Prosecutor requested a sentence of almost two years in prison.

A. Gaponenko describes what was really going on

Who took the initiative to initiate a criminal case against me? The top leadership of the “National Alliance” party – Edwin Tsilinskis, Gaidis Bērziņš, employee of the party in the apparatus of the Saeima Dace Kalniņš, and sharing their views, non-party deputy at the time Veiko Spolītis. In a statement filed with the security police, they signed themselves as deputies of the Saeima, i.e., they used their high political status to put pressure on the investigation. Statements were written on the forms of deputies of the Saeima.

Why did Tsilinskis, Bērziņš, and Spolītis do this? Because for many years prior, I had openly discussed with them the current political problems in the life of our Republic. Our views differed radically. During my speeches in the press, on television, and on radio I criticised the political program proposed by “National Alliance” (its predecessor parties) and the practical actions taken by it for the ethnic discrimination of national minorities in the Republic. I have repeatedly noted that this party resorts to such ideological tools as the glorification of national socialism in the person of members of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS troops to mobilise the electorate. I criticised the above persons for the fact that, as officials, they annually participate in the solemn processions of legionaries to the Monument of Freedom, which expresses the essence of Latvian statehood.

In particular, in 2013 I released a documentary with colleagues entitled “Ostland. Night under the swastika“, which described the crimes committed by members of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS. This film was awarded an international prize for its contribution to the struggle against the revival of Nazism. Later, my colleagues and I made another film on this topic- “March 16“.

The leaders of “National Alliance” had no arguments against my criticism, they could not defeat me in public disputes and therefore decided to use their high political position to remove me from the field of exchange of opinions with the help of law enforcement institutions controlled by them. It should be recalled that Gaidis Bērziņš has served as Minister of Justice for a long time and still has strong business and friendly ties in the law enforcement sphere.

The removal of me from the public field of discussions took place despite the fact that I am a non-citizen, I cannot directly participate in the political process, and I do not constitute political competition for the “National Alliance”. But I represent the interests of the Russian population of the Republic, which elected me as Chairman of the United Congress of Russian communities of Latvia (50,000), Vice-President of Russian community of Latvia (10,000 members), and co-Chairman of the Parliament of unrepresented Latvia (25,000 voters). Because of this, my opinion has credibility in the Russian media.

I am engaged in social and political activities, i.e., I formulate ideas and bring them to the attention of those who are interested in them. At the same time, I enjoy the right to formulate my own opinion and the right to disseminate it, i.e., freedom of speech, granted to me by the Constitution of Latvia and international treaties of Latvia.

I formulate my opinion on the basis of scientific research – I am a Professor, Doctor of Economic Sciences, and a member of the professional association New York Academy of Sciences. I presented my point of view on social events in 15 monographs, many hundreds of scientific and journalistic articles, and 6 documentaries, which I was a director and screenwriter of. My work in the field of ethnic conflicts is well known to the European scientific community. I have repeatedly expressed my views at OSCE sessions, in appeals to the UN, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and in appeals to the leaders of world powers.

For example, at OSCE sessions I presented reports on the situation of national minorities in the Baltic States five times, held four round tables on this topic, and presented and distributed a book called “Ethnic conflicts in the Baltic States in the post-Soviet period“.

All my approaches to ethnic conflicts have been adopted in this authoritative international organisation, created solely for the prevention of conflicts in Europe. The main part of my materials on this subject is published on the pages of the OSCE, including statements about the threats of glorification of Nazism in Latvia.

In all international instances, I defended the point of view that an ethnic conflict is developing in Latvia, which is fuelled by radical political groups interested in this, and the glorification of Nazi criminals is used to foment it. My point of view coincides with the position of the UN General Assembly and the position of other international organisations, which have repeatedly expressed concerns about the crisis of interethnic relations in the Baltic States, as well as about the glorification of national socialism. I provided the court with one of the UNGA resolutions translated into Latvian. Its existence, by the way, caused the declarant of the process, the former Minister of Justice G. Bērziņš, to be surprised.

On October 25th 2018 the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on EU States to ban the activities of neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups, which the authorities are turning a blind eye to. In the list of countries that allow such incidents Poland, Greece, Germany, and Latvia – in connection with the annual March of memory of Latvian legionaries – are mentioned.

The resolution explicitly states: “Every year on March 16th thousands of people gather in Riga for Latvian Legionnaires’ Day to commemorate Latvians who served in the Waffen SS.”

The resolution also notes the need to:

“Effectively prohibit neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups and any other foundations or associations that heroicise and glorify Nazism and fascism”.

The European Parliament in its resolution mentions “distressing reports” of collusion between political leaders, political parties, and law enforcement agencies of individual participating countries with neo-fascists and neo-Nazis. The resolution calls on alliance states to “openly condemn and sanction hate crimes, hate speech, and the search for perpetrators (among minorities) by politicians and public officials, as they directly make hate and violence the norm and reinforce them”.

In my trial, we just have an example of the “search for perpetrators (among minorities) by politicians and public officials, as they directly make (hate speech) the norm and reinforce hatred and violence (in society)”.

I will remind you about the case of the public definition of the deputy of the Saeima from “National Alliance” Edvīns Šnore, in an article dated May 19th 2017, of Russians as lice that must be “removed”, i.e., destroyed. This statement was not defined by the security police and the Prosecutor’s office as inciting hostility towards the Russian ethnic group or as a threat to their physical destruction. This is despite the fact that many Russian human rights activists, including me, then appealed to the law enforcement agencies with a request to assess the statements of this politician.

Another case. In July 2018 the known writer Didzis Sedlenieks published the following text: “With a scornful word, Russians or a little more tolerant Russian-speakers usually denote the lowest intellectual level of homo sovetiques regardless of nationality. This is a genetic deviation from universal values, these creatures have nothing at all, including human life. It is clear that most of society despises them, a genetic error or illness has no connection with the language the animal is trying to speak.”

To my statement in the Prosecutor’s office concerning Sedlenieks’ statement, I learned the answer that there was no corpus delicti in the actions of the “writer”. I am ready to provide the court with this and other answers from the Prosecutor’s office.

This position of law enforcement agencies means that there are two truths – one truth for the foreign population, primarily Russian, and another for the nationalist/radical elite. The principle of equality of all individuals before the law, regardless of their ethnic origin, was violated in this case by law enforcement officers.

It seems that law enforcement agencies are counting on a violation of the principle of equality of all people before the law, regardless of their ethnic origin, being accepted by the court. However, this will mean the destruction of the entire justice system and the destruction of the foundations of Latvian statehood.

What are the decisions of international organisations regarding Nazism and the ban on its glorification based on?

On the decision of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg on the recognition of the Gestapo, Sturmabteilung, Sicherheitsdienst, Schutzstaffel, and all their members as criminal organisations. This is what the IMT’s decision on the SS sounds like:

“The Tribunal shall declare criminal, as defined in the Statute, a group consisting of those persons who have been formally admitted as members of the SS and are listed in the preceding paragraph, who have become members of the organisation or remaining members knowing that the organisation is being used to commit acts defined as criminal under article 6 of the Statute, or those persons who have been personally implicated as members of the organisation in the Commission of such crimes.”

I quote this in order to understand my motivation for the negative statements against national socialism and attempts to glorify it by the representatives of “National Alliance”, whose leadership initiated my prosecution.

Let’s return to the initiators of the criminal proceedings against me. What was revealed during the speeches of the initiators of the prosecution at the trial?

G. Bērziņš, E. Tsilinskis, and V. Spolītis testified that they’ve personally known me for a long time and have long been conducting public disputes with me on political issues. They complained that I was criticising the March 16th commemoration of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion and criticising the presence of American military contingents in Latvia.

However, this is not the crime that is defined by paragraph 2 of article 78 of the Criminal Law of the Republic of Latvia – incitement of ethnic hatred.

The declarants deliberately connected this criminal article to my opinion, albeit on controversial political issues in our country, but not in the rest of the world – the glorification of the Waffen SS legionaries and the presence of foreign armed contingents in Latvia. At the same time, the declarants in their statements tried to equate members of the Latvian Legion of troops of Waffen SS and the Latvian ethnos and to present criticism of Waffen SS legionaries as criticism of the Latvian ethnos. This is categorically not so, it is blasphemous.

During the Second world war the Latvian elites were divided into those who promoted the “red” Communist project, those who promoted the “brown” Nazi project, and those who promoted the “white” project, i.e., the project of restoring an independent bourgeois Latvia. The “red” project was implemented under the leadership of V. Latsis and J. Kalnbērzs, “brown” under the leadership of SS General O. Dankers and SS Colonel Voldemārs Veiss, and “white” under the leadership of Konstantīns Čakste. I have developed this theme in my book “People of Sin and Deterrents”. So that the declarants impose their political point of view on the court, and most importantly on the whole of society, identifying the members of the Waffen SS legion of troops with the entire Latvian elite, moreover with all the Latvians.

Unfortunately, the Prosecutor’s office took the politically biased point of view of the declarants from “National Alliance” and based its accusations on it. This is despite the fact that the Latvian state does not officially recognise members of the Latvian Legion of Waffen SS troops as national heroes, officials do not participate in the celebration of March 16th, and the national socialist ideology is not the state ideology in the Republic of Latvia.

The question of the history of Latvia and the role of various groups of elites in it is the subject of disputes of scientists and politicians, but not the subject of proceedings in court concerning a case of inciting national strife. Accepting the position proposed by the leadership of “National Alliance” that all Latvians during the war supported national socialist ideas and carried out national socialist practices, and linking this position with my criticism of the actions of “National Alliance” to glorify Nazism, we are on the shaky ground of criminally prosecuting people for anti-fascist beliefs and anti-fascist statements.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that the declarants have used their position in power to persecute dissidents, in particular anti-fascists. During my speech in court I mentioned that the Deputy G. Bērziņš wrote a statement to the security police against the MEP A. Mirsky for his statements about the March 16th march. The Deputy E. Tsilinskis demanded in the Saeima from the Prime Minister V. Dombrovskis to initiate a criminal case against me for publishing the book “Latgale: in Search of Other Life”, which he didn’t like. V. Spolītis, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, was involved in writing a statement to the security police against me for an interview he did not like on Norwegian state television. The evidence of all these cases was given to the court during the hearings.

My fears that the Prosecutor’s office has adopted the point of view of nationalists/radicals of “National Alliance” was confirmed by the actions of the Prosecutor during the announcement of the charges. The Prosecutor read to the court, concerning the case, a lengthy testimony drawn up by the security police. In this reference it was noted that in 2012 I was among the initiators of the referendum for granting the Russian language the status of the second state language in Latvia, and that this poses a threat to national security. This is despite the fact that the referendum was held in accordance with the Constitution and legislation of Latvia, it was organised by state bodies, and almost all eligible citizens of the country took part in the vote. It turns out that all of them are also criminals and threaten the national security of the country? Or they threaten the nationalist/radical concept of building a monoethnic society in Latvia, promoted by “National Alliance”?

Further in the testimony quoted by the Prosecutor it was specified that I wrote the criminal book “Latgale: in Search of Other Life“, which has already been mentioned above. Which court has determined that this book is criminal? Why does the Prosecutor’s office cite this opinion of one of the security police officers, which makes me look like a criminal? Is this not evidence that the nationalists/radicals demand the restriction of freedom of speech and effectively use the state apparatus in the person of the security police and, unfortunately, the Prosecutor’s office?

The security police testimony read by the Prosecutor also mentions that I threaten the national security of Latvia, as I have been making anti-war statements for a long time, criticising the deployment of foreign military contingents in Latvia. What do these statements have to do with the case of ethnic hatred? Nothing. Why does the Prosecutor provide this information that is unnecessary for the consideration of the merits of the case?

The reference shows what goals the security police and the Prosecutor’s office supporting it really pursue – using a criminal case initiated on a false pretext to punish me in reality for anti-war statements, for publishing books, for making films that do not fit into nationalist/radical ideological concepts, and for activities aimed at defending the rights of Russians to preserve their national identity.

The position of the declarants in the episode where I criticised the celebration of March 16th is also explained by their personal political grievances. The declarant G. Bērziņš categorically refused to comply with the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to return property to relatives of Jews killed by the SS during the war, for which he was dismissed by the Prime Minister from the post of Minister of Justice. E. Tsilinskis was dismissed from the post of Minister of Regional Development by another Prime Minister for taking part in the celebration on March 16th, contrary to the ban he had imposed on it. I gave evidence of these events at the time in court.

During their court appearances, the complainants never testified that my social media posts somehow insulted them as representatives of the Latvian ethnic group. They spoke all the time about the inadmissibility of my political views and their “danger” to the Latvian state.

I assume that the actions of the deputies of “National Alliance” against me were due to the approaching parliamentary election and the desire to score points through fuelling anti-Russian sentiment. However, wise Latvian voter did not accept the political game offered to them: Tsilinskis, Bērziņš, and Spolītis were not elected as deputies of the current Saeima.

Consider now the essence of my statements on social networks and those attributed to me that appear in the criminal process.

The Prosecutor’s office charged me with publishing on February 27th on my Facebook page a text of the Russian network publisher NOTUM with my interview “the Baltic States are on fire: from the torchlight processions of neo-Nazis to fomenting a big war”.

Any non-biased person understands that at the beginning of the quoted passages we are talking about the Baltic elites and collaborators who served the interests of Nazi Germany during the second world war and carried out the genocide of the local population. This fact is recorded in the decisions of the IMT in Nuremberg. And then we are talking about the problem of the rehabilitation of the Nazi ideology, expressed in torchlight processions with nationalist slogans. It is precisely this kind of manifestation of Nazism that causes concern in the UN, which annually at its sessions adopts resolutions condemning the glorification of Nazism.

For example, the slogan “Latvia is for Latvians!”, which sounded at the torchlight procession on Lāčplēsis Day and which is mentioned in the excerpt attributed to me by the Prosecutor’s office. The court of course knows this, but I will remind that this slogan was put forward and used to mobilise the masses by Gustavs Celmiņš, the head of the fascist organisation “Pērkonkrusts”. This organisation was banned in 1934 by the “white” government of Kārlis Ulmanis, and its leader and more than 100 accomplices were convicted by the “white” court. And in 1941 Celmiņš returned to Latvia, restored “Pērkonkrusts”, and participated together with Arājs and other “comrade-in-arms” in the massacres of civilians, as well as in the destruction of Jews, Gypsies, and other “foreigners”.

I am accused by the Prosecutor’s office of recalling these tragic events and giving them an emotional assessment. It turns out that it is unacceptable to remember the crimes of the Nazis, and the right action is to forget these crimes. However, this is not the official position of the Latvian authorities. The top leadership of the country remembers the victims of the war on May 8th, remembering 90,000 Jews killed in the first years of the war by German and local Nazis on the territory of Latvia.

In one post that appears in the indictment of the Prosecutor there is the retelling of the content of the presentations held in Riga at an anti-Nazi conference on March 16th 2015. The retelling of my presentation at the conference is given in one sentence: “the human rights Activist Aleksandr Gaponenko noted that the purpose of introducing American troops in Latvia is carrying out repression against Russians, Jews, and other Latvian ‘foreigners’.”

The text given in the retelling concerns American troops who threaten ethnic minorities in Latvia. As proof of the validity of this concern I handed over to the court materials that are the statements of the highest military ranks of the United States, in particular, General Philip Mark Breedlove, the former commander of the European command of US Armed Forces and commander in chief of the United Armed Forces of NATO in Europe. The four-star General confirmed that the US military is confronting Russia and the Russians in Latvia.

As evidence of the fairness of the Russians’ fears for their lives, the court was given materials on the exercises of the American special forces to combat possible actions by the civilian population of Latvia, as well as materials on the fact that the military constantly conduct exercises in Latvia, which take place in residential areas inhabited mainly by Russians. During these exercises, techniques for suppressing the discontent of the civilian population are being worked on.

I will give one more evidence from media reports that my fears about the presence of foreign troops in Latvia have grounds.

A German company specialising in the recruitment of paid extras for military exercises posted in March 2017 an announcement about the recruitment of Russian-speaking extras for manoeuvres at the Bavarian training ground near Nuremberg. They were supposed to portray Russian civilians in exercises involving 15 NATO countries and Alliance partners. At these exercises interaction between US special operations Forces and Latvian and Estonian colleagues was practiced. This information is published on the pages of the publication “gazeta.ru” – a link is provided.

Is this not an illustration of my suggestion, made two years before the exercises in Bavaria, that the American military could be used against the peaceful Russian population?

However, the statement of concern about the presence of the US military in Latvia concerns political relations, not ethnic ones. These statements are inherently anti-war in nature. Accusing it of hating Americans is the same as accusing it of hating Americans for disliking the American McDonald’s fast food plant. According to the logic of the Prosecutor’s office, public criticism of the products of “McDonald’s” -the “Big Mac” hamburger – means inciting hatred towards Americans.

Here it is necessary to note a logical mistake the Prosecutor makes in this and in other points of the prosecution. This is a mistake that was described by the Greek philosopher Aristotle 1,500 years ago and subsequently received the name “ignoratio elenchi”. It consists of replacing the subject of the dispute with another one, an outsider, having only a distant, external resemblance to the subject in question. In our case, it is the substitution of the concept of American military with the concept of Americans. This substitution allows the prosecutor to link in the conclusion things that have no logical connection between each other. My fears of the actions of American military contingents are presented by the Prosecutor as fears of the actions of the American ethnic group, and then it is assessed as inciting hatred towards Americans. However, the concept of American military does not contain the concept of American ethnos.

If we describe this technique in terms of logical judgments and inferences, we see that the Prosecutor makes a conclusion from a small premise that should have been contained in a large premise. The correct conclusion would be from the following two premises. Premise one: “Americans are inherently dangerous to other ethnicities”. Premise two: “there are Americans in Latvia”. Conclusion: “Americans are a threat to ethnic groups living in Latvia”. However, I did not and could not make such statements, because, as a Christian, I believe that all people and all ethnic groups are equal. The whole European civilisation is built on this premise, it is the basis of all European legal systems.

Violation of elementary logical laws is characteristic not only of the Prosecutor, but also to the persons involved by him as experts: I. Bremer and I. Kronberg. Answering my questions, these persons admitted that they were not familiar with the rules of operating with judgments and conclusions and did not study formal logic.

The persons involved by the Prosecutor’s office as experts also recognised during the court hearing that they are not capable of distinguishing the concepts “nation” and “ethnos”, “elite” and “masses”, “Nazism” and “fascism”, i.e., they recognised themselves as incompetent in political science and ethnological texts, the examination of which they undertook to carry out.

They also recognised that they did not distinguish between methodology and technique. This does not allow them to justify their choice of methods of analysis.

I. Bremer, for example, arbitrarily chose a technique from several dozen existing in specialised literature for analysing statements about inciting ethnic hatred. She did not know the OSCE recommended methodology for the use of harmful ethnonyms that is used in Europe. This philologist specialises in the history of Latvian folk culture and does not have at all do professional work on the analysis of the content of statements.

The same applies to Kronberg. She has publications on the prevention of child crime, but has no publications that would give grounds to consider her a specialist in the analysis of the content of political science and socio-political tests.

Bremer and Kronberg drew the court’s attention in their testimonials to the idea that reading my texts could cause anxiety in an unprepared reader. And they can cause delight in readers who are familiar with the facts of the destruction of 90,000 Jews in Latvia during the war? Is it possible to say that I exaggerate, describing the processes of the glorification of Nazism in Latvia?

Recently, the State Security Service of Latvia published data that in the spring of 2015 the office of “National Alliance” was visited by the head of the British Nazi organisation “National Action” Benjamin Raymond. The organisation calls on its followers to exterminate Jews and “non-whites” and to treat all dissenters harshly.

In the office, Benjamin Raymond apparently shared his experience of spreading national socialist ideas in society. After that, he, together with the current Secretary General of the National Association Raivis Zeltīts and the then leaders of “National Alliance” took part in the March 16th march in memory of the legionaries to the Monument of Freedom in Riga.

The meeting between the leaders of “National Alliance” and Benjamin Raymond was organised by Zeltīts through the “National Action” website. Zeltīts was then active on the “National Action” propaganda radio show under the direction of British Nazi Paul Hickman.

In December 2016 “National Action” was banned as a terrorist organisation in the UK. The reason was that members Lythgoe and Renshaw were involved in a plot to murder West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper with a machete and a threat to kill a police officer.

Why do I give this information? Because this is exactly the March 16th 2015 march that the leaders of “National Alliance” participated in together with the British terrorists and I criticised on social networks. The participation of British nationalists in the march was known from the media, their organisation was not yet recognised as terrorist, but I had reasonable fears about this. So, I shared with readers reasonable fears concerning the threat of the spread of Nazi ideas in Latvia, and as it turned out it was also the threat of the spread of terrorism.

Let’s consider the other charges that the Prosecutor’s office has brought against me. On March 16th I posted on Facebook a video from the TV channel “Rossiya”, and then retold its contents and commented on them.

The text of the video speech of a certain Valeriya, which I retold, contains the phrase: “People all over the world already understand that American tanks are in Latvia in order to shoot the local Russian population and ensure their transfer to concentration camps. And the solemn March of Latvian Nazis on March 16th to the Monument of Freedom in Riga is an open demonstration to local Russians, Jews, and other foreigners of their readiness to repeat the ethnic cleansing that was carried out by their spiritual mentors in 1941-1945 on this territory.”

I have already reported that there is no doubt that more than 100,000 local citizens, including 90,000 Jews and Gypsies, as well as about 300,000 prisoners of war and civilians from other republics of the USSR and Europe, were killed by the Nazis in Latvia. Materials confirming this data are transferred to court. Any action to honour the perpetrators of these crimes, including their public veneration on March 16th, is an insult to the memory of the victims and the feelings of their living relatives.

The prosecutor for this episode of the prosecution, as well as for other episodes regarding my anti-Nazi statements, argues that the Nazi ideology is prohibited by law and does not exist in Latvia. Forbidden means forbidden, but March 16th processions are held annually.

The Prosecutor does not distinguish in his accusation between the statements of the participant of the program on the TV channel “Rossiya” Valeriya, my retelling of this speech, and my comments. All these different texts are presented as my doing. My comments concerned the political consequences of the deployment of American troops and tanks in particular in Latvia, not its ethnic aspect.

Here is this commentary on the video story: “… of course, they will not deliver the arrested activists of the Russian resistance to concentration camps in tanks, but they will definitely be placed at the Monument of Freedom for intimidation. And American crews will urinate there, as they usually do around the world. They will also rob the Art Museum, as they did in Iraq. I think that there are even special teams for the export of art values ​​to the United States.”

In this statement, in accordance with the rules of formal logic, the subject of the statement are the crews of tanks, and the predicate of the statement is their presence in a public place for the purpose of negatively influencing the civilian population/intimidation of people in the city center with their presence.

We are not talking about the American ethnic group, which threatens the ethnic groups living in Latvia. There are no estimates that would humiliate the American people.

As for my assumption that the US military may have a negative influence on the residents of Latvia, the publications about it were transferred to the court. These are materials from the media that reported the theft by the US military of art values ​​in Iraq, as well as materials about the victims who were among the civilian population of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, for which the US military is responsible for. These are hundreds of thousands and millions of dead civilians. I would like to note that in the transmitted materials we are not talking about the American people, but about the American military, the American ruling elites. The American people had nothing to do with these victims. The colonial war in Vietnam, for example, was halted by a wave of mass protest of the American people themselves against the American elites.

The Prosecutor in his judgments does not distinguish between the American military and the American people. He introduces a new concept of “persons belonging to the United States”. Later on he also uses the concept of “persons belonging to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania”. The Prosecutor did not respond to a request to clarify the content of this concept. From the context of speeches of the Prosecutor, it appears that these are subjects.

How relations of citizenship are related to ethnic relations is not clear. In addition, the Prosecutor refers to only Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians as subjects, but does not include in their number of Russians, Jews, and Poles who have been living for centuries in the Baltic States. And he does not include American Indians in the composition of American subjects. It is obvious that the introduction of vague concepts by the Prosecutor serves to hide the lack of logical connection in the charges against me.

As a digression. My prophecies about the role of the American military in the life of Latvia turned out to be prophetic. In March of this year, two US military men urinated on the Monument of Freedom. The media did not report if they were tankists or not.

Consider the following charges of the Prosecutor’s office. I published my interview with “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” on Facebook on March 23rd. The article was titled “Toilet shield: Latvian authorities creatively prepare for an invasion”. I commented on the article as follows: “It is impossible to relate to the militaristic hysteria of the ruling elite in Latvia with humour. By the way, even the Americans started to straight out the gone-too-far bloc of parties ‘Unity’-‘National Alliance’. President A. Bērziņš said that there is no danger. In Washington there is fear that the local twit in power will unleash the third world war at their own initiative.”

This comment is a criticism of the Latvian ruling elite. The Prosecutor’s office presents it as a criticism of the Latvian people, i.e., it performs a logical operation of concept substitution and identifies the Latvian ruling elite with the Latvian people. It turns out that the Prosecutor’s office is trying to withdraw the current ruling elite from any criticism, to perpetuate its rule. This is directly contrary to the Constitution of the country, which speaks of Latvia as a democratic state in which power belongs to the people, and which has the right to change its elite during elections, and before that has the right to criticise its actions.

Further, the Prosecutor’s office gives a quote from the correspondent N. Ermolaeva, which he attributes to me: “The Russian part of the population of the Republic is intimidated. Russian human rights activists were searched. Criminal charges were also brought against them on far-fetched grounds. They are forced to withdraw from public activities, pressure is put on their business, they are threatened with dismissal from work.”

The Prosecutor’s office regarded this text as incitement of ethnic hatred. I.e., the Prosecutor’s office does not deny the fact of persecution of Russian human rights defenders. But the public announcement of these facts is regarded as the incitement of hatred. Hatred towards who? The whole time it was about the ruling elites. It means towards them. But this is a healthy criticism of the authorities, and not the incitement of hatred towards representatives of individual ethnic groups or to entire ethnic groups.

The Prosecutor, in response to my statement that most of the texts attributed to me are not mine, but were written by correspondents from my words and were edited by correspondents, put forward claims that it is necessary to control the content of publications and to not allow to publish what has not received the approval of the author. Yes, such an order of coordination of texts existed in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic 30 years ago. I, as an author of articles in those days signed the texts that were subject to publication in the media. There is no such order in the present world. Members of the media publish what they see fit. They can be sued later, but, as a rule, it does not give results.

Here is an example. The Latvian “Delfi” website published in 2012-2017 about 150 articles that gave a negative assessment of me, the website “TVNET” – about 100 articles of the same content, and “TV3” created two dozen negative stories about me. I cite this information in my book Persecution of human rights defenders in the Baltic States. At the same time, Latvian journalists took my public statements out of context, interpreted them arbitrarily, attributed to me what I did not say, and used manipulations with video and photo images. How can one conduct 200-300 legal proceedings against these media?

All these actions of journalists are called stigmatisation and they are done in order to create an image of the enemy from the person, and then publicly punish them and make them a sacral victim. It is clear that the journalists acted on the order of political forces that were interested in sacrificing a human rights defender who defends the rights of the Russian population.

I stated all these facts in my statement to the International Criminal Court, and it accepted it for consideration. However, these actions are already beyond the scope of this criminal process.

In the publication on Facebook on March 27th there is also a reprint of an article from “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”. The Prosecutor’s office says that the agency “Regnum” is the place of publication, which indicates that neither the investigator nor the Prosecutor read the original article. The text of the article was also written by correspondent N. Ermolaeva and published in “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”, not in “Regnum”. The text is written from my oral conversation over the phone. The article is titled: “Expert: US tanks threaten the security of the Russian population”.

In comment to this article, I wrote: “I expressed my opinion about the role of the Americans in the Baltic States and Russia is extremely concerned about this situation.”

Can’t one speak one’s mind? Where is the expression of incitement of hatred in an expert assessment of the content of a geopolitical conflict?

This expert statement gave rise to a discussion on Facebook. During this discussion a person who spoke under the name “Uldis” permitted themselves to humiliate Russians, demanding that they be forcibly deported from Latvia and destroyed. The offensive post of “Uldis” does not result in an accusation, but leads to my indignation at its content.

I.e., this is my answer to a supporter of the genocide of the Russian population. In response, I attempt to analyse the causes and mechanism of the development of such sentiments in Latvia. This is a judgment about the danger of spreading Nazi ideology in Latvia and an attempt to resist it. For this post the Prosecutor proposed to punish me with 4 months of imprisonment (as well as for all other incriminated episodes). It turns out that any Nazi statement (text) is ignored by the Latvian law enforcement authorities, and an anti-Nazi statement should be punished by real imprisonment.

In support of this position, as well as similar positions regarding my criticism of the glorification of Nazism, the Prosecutor makes the argument that the Nazi ideology is banned in Latvia. Yes, it is banned, but the Prosecutor’s office does not fight against it. 7 years ago I and others appealed to the Prosecutor’s office to bring to justice the persons who issued a wall calendar that used images of propaganda posters during the Nazi occupation of Latvia. In particular, the poster contained an offensive image of a Jew and a call to punish them. The Prosecutor’s office did not consider it necessary to investigate the case, despite the fact that Nazi propaganda is prohibited by law.

In the publication of March 31st on Facebook I criticise the television journalist Streyps and his colleagues for being dissatisfied with the position of the Russians, who do not like the deployment of American tanks in Latvia and the fact that the Russians want to speak their native language.

The text criticises a professional group – Latvian journalists, not the Latvian ethnic group. The Prosecutor again performs the operation of concept substitution in order to “attract” the accusation of inciting ethnic and national hatred not even for the criticism of the professional group, but for the irony in its address. This is happening against the background of severe persecution, I find no other word, by some journalists of Latvian publications towards representatives of the Russian ethnic group.

For example, the journalist Veidemane constantly calls the Monument to the Liberators in Riga a “scarecrow”, people who celebrate the Victory day near it “zombies”, and the procession of the Immortal Regiment on May 9th – “procession of the dead”. The declarant in my case, Veiko Spolītis, as a Deputy of the Saeima, dirtily insulted the monument to the Liberators in Riga, calling it a “phallus”.

Meanwhile, for Russians this monument is a sacred element in their system of ethnic values. By publicly insulting the monument to Liberators, V. Spolītis insulted all Russians.

The Prosecutor’s office does not consider these, and a number of other, really offensive statements against Russians. Obviously, just because they are expressed by the Latvian journalist in relation to representatives of the Russian ethnic group and its values.

In the course of my scientific work, I came to the firm conclusion that in modern society it is unacceptable to create hierarchies in which some ethnic groups occupy a dominant position and others are enslaved by them. This path of nation-building was chosen in the 1930s-40s by the German ruling elites and this social model is called national socialism. It led to the world war and the destruction of a huge number of people, which the Nazi elites defined as the lowest ethnic group, in their terminology, the lowest race.

The United Nations fought and defeated German Nazism and its allies. This allowed us to build a new world on the basis of equality of all Nations and all ethnic groups belonging to these Nations. This world presupposes the right to one’s own opinion and to the free exchange of these opinions between people. It presupposes the equality of people before the law, regardless of the ethnic origin of the person. This rule is especially important in relation to those who are authorised to speak on behalf of national minorities.

The Prosecutor on all 7 episodes imputed to me claims that my statements do not fit the concept of freedom of speech, defined by the Constitution of Latvia and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The only justification for this exception is that I am presenting a point of view that contradicts the ideological concept of the nationalist/radical Latvian party “National Alliance”, which it imposes as a state ideology.

Another consideration. The Prosecutor’s office analyses my statements and reposts on the pages of the Facebook social network. Facebook positions itself as a social network created for communication between people, but not as a means of mass communication. However, the spread of posts on it cannot be equated with the spread of information in the media, because there is no regularity or mass. How many people actually read my posts? Four members of “National Alliance” and that’s all? The Prosecutor’s office does not give information about the number of readers.

Facebook is located in the US, not in Latvian jurisdiction. Therefore, only American courts can prosecute those who are published on the social network Facebook, or it should be done at their request.

Facebook, being under American jurisdiction, has strict rules for controlling the statements of those who use its services. They are public. So, the rules of this social network say:


Hate Speech

We do not allow hate speech on Facebook because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion, and in some cases, may promote real-world violence.

We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics – race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity and serious disease or disability. We also provide some protections for immigration status. We define “attack” as violent or dehumanising speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation. We separate attacks into three tiers of severity, as described below.

Do not post:

Tier 1

Content targeting a person or group of people on the basis of … their aforementioned protected characteristic(s):

Violent speech or support in written or visual form;

Dehumanising speech or imagery in the form of comparisons, generalisations or unqualified behavioural statements to or about:

Insects;

Animals that are culturally perceived as intellectually or physically inferior;

Filth, bacteria, disease and faeces;

Sexual predator;

Subhumanity;

Violent and sexual criminals;

Other criminals (including but not limited to “thieves”, “bank robbers” or saying that “all [protected characteristic or quasi-protected characteristic] are ‘criminals'”);

Mocking the concept, events or victims of hate crimes, even if no real person is depicted in an image;

Designated dehumanising comparisons, generalisations or unqualified behavioural statements (in written or visual form).

Calls for segregation;

Explicit exclusion, which includes, but is not limited to, “expel” or “not allowed”;

Political exclusion defined as denial of right to political participation;

Economic exclusion defined as denial of access to economic entitlements and limiting participation in the labour market;

Social exclusion defined as including, but not limited to, denial of opportunity to gain access to spaces (incl. online) and social services.”


Facebook automatically removes all posts that contain these offensive expressions from the public space, and if they are repeated, then the profile of the person is closed for some time or forever.

Thus, Facebook proceeds in determining as the first tier – the highest level of insult – methodology for assessing the presence of the hostility of harmful ethnonyms in speech, which I already mentioned.

Meanwhile, the administration of Facebook did not evaluate my statements, which are being investigated by the court in this criminal case, as offensive. This can be judged by the fact that these statements continue, for five years, to be publicly available and haven’t been deleted. The video stories and articles of Russian publications that I gave interviews to and that the Prosecutor’s office considers as offensive have not been deleted. This is, in essence, an examination of my statements and the statements attributed to me at the highest level, tested on the experience of the administration of a social network with three billion users and showed to be highly efficient. This is an examination conducted in accordance with American law, which applies to users of Facebook. This suggests that I did not incite ethnic hatred in my publications.

The use of law enforcement agencies to deal with political opponents, especially if they belong to a different ethnic group, is nothing more than a return to the practice of national socialism with its division into “superior races”, which have all rights, and “inferior races”, which have reduced rights or no rights at all, including the right to life.


Aleksandr Gaponenko

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