Latvia Wants to Approach 30th Anniversary of “Independence” by Eliminating Everything Russian

New steps towards Russian assimilation in a EU and NATO member state

From June 29th to July 1st, the NATO Ramstein Alloy aerial exercise took place in Latvia. It is pointless to ask why NATO trains at the very borders of the Russian Federation – they will say it’s for the sake of “peace and stability”. And here Riga cannot do without victories over the “internal enemy”. Russians and Russia have been considered such an enemy of the Latvian nationalist regime for three decades.

Latvia’s National Council for Electronic Media has decided to ban the broadcasting of seven RT group channels: RT, RT HD, RT Arabic, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD, RT Documentary, and RT TV. The official explanation of the ban sounds absurd: “Having received information that the most influential Russian RT channel is under the actual control of Dmitry Kiselev, who is under EU sanctions, the National Council for Electronic Media decided to ban the distribution of seven RT group programs in Latvia. We will call on other media regulators in the EU to do the same.”

In November 2019, Latvia already banned the broadcast of nine Russian TV channels, among which were both entertainment and apolitical, such as the designer channel “Bobyor” or “Dom Kino”. Someone in Riga is hearing Russian speech from TV screens.

These were the television channels of a neighbouring country, and now Riga intends to completely eliminate its own television in the Russian language (recall: Russian is the native language for 40% of the population of Latvia). From January 1st 2021, the head of the National Council on Electronic Mass Media, Ivars Āboliņš, proposed translating into Latvian all the broadcasts of the only Russian-language program (news, talk shows, entertainment) of the LTV7 channel. Previously, Riga similarly closed the Russian-language First Baltic TV channel.

Now Latvian fighters against everything Russian forbid St. George’s ribbons. On June 3rd, this issue was discussed by the Latvian Saeima Commission on Human Rights and Public Affairs. “This symbol represents a threat to the democratic system and security,” said the Chairman of the Commission Artuss Kaimiņš. “The ban of the St. George’s ribbon will limit the manifestations of the ideology of the USSR.” The Commission approved the initiative, despite the objections of the legal department of the Saeima and the police. Although the police noted that such a ban violates human rights, lawmakers in democratic Latvia consider only representatives of the “titular nation” and “fraternal family of European Nations” to be human.

“There is no correct theoretical definition of what the St. George’s ribbon is for Russians,” commented journalist Aleksandr Gaponenko (photoed above), an activist of the Russian movement, Doctor of Economics, and publicist. “But with its help, people position themselves as Russians. In any case, in Latvia they exist. And when these symbols are forbidden, the meaning of such an action is to expeditiously complete the assimilation of the Russian population.”

Gaponenko himself is currently on trial, two cases are happening against him at the same time. The scientist and prominent figure of the Russian community is accused of “inciting national, ethnic, and racial hatred”, as well as “activities directed against the Republic of Latvia” and “helping a foreign state in its activities directed against the Republic of Latvia”. Gaponenko was already arrested for this, and served four months in prison for speaking and writing about discrimination against Russians and the glorification of Nazism in Latvia. In addition to Aleksandr Gaponenko, other prominent representatives of the Russian community in Latvia were also caught in the millstones of Latvian justice: independent journalist Yury Alekseyev (photoed below), as well as philologist and social activist Aleksandr Filey. The former is being tried for writing articles that are critical of the nationalist authorities, and the latter – for public activities in defence of Russians and congratulations on social networks for the anniversary of Latvia’s accession to the USSR…

“The situation is developing by inertia, Yury Alekseyev had a trial, witnesses were questioned, the next hearing is scheduled for September 9th,” said Gaponenko. “At this rate, the process will continue for another year and a half. Aleksandr Filey (photoed below) has the same situation. He had one hearing postponed to September 9th, and the second hearing will be held after quarantine on July 30th. No charges are being dropped against anyone.”

As a reminder, last year Riga finally eliminated Russian-language education, banning it in schools and universities, and then started translating kindergartens into Latvian. Riga ignores the opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe from June 19th, which requires Latvia to provide education to national minorities in their native language. However, according to the decision of the Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs of July 1st, those Latvian schools that want to have international status are required to organise educational programs in the languages of the EU and NATO countries.

Latvia wants to approach the 30th anniversary of its secession from the USSR by eliminating everything that is Russian. It is forgotten that without the annexation of Livonia in 1721 to Russia there would be no Latvians, no Latvian language, no Latvian statehood, like what happened with the Prussians and Polabian Slavs. And Oskars Kalpaks and Rūdolfs Bangerskis, who stood at the origins of Latvian statehood (1918) during the time of the Russian Empire, were St. George’s medal winners during the Russian Empire and were not short of Russian awards before the end of their lives.

Representatives of the current Latvian elite are people of a smaller breed. They are ashamed of sharing a history with the Russians. After all, if they stop feeding the people with false fables about the USSR strangling Latvian freedom, they will have questions: about the decline of health care and education; about the brain drain from the country; about the collapse of production. And, of course, the rejection of profitable economic ties with Russia.

Aleksey Toporov

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