Vladimir Linderman: Latvia’s Missing Night Vision Devices Should Be Sought in the “Azov” Battalion

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The night vision devices that disappeared from an army warehouse may have been handed over or sold to volunteers from “Tēvijas sargi” (“Patriotic Guards”) by an officer of the National Armed Forces of Latvia…

Night vision devices disappeared from a warehouse of the National Armed Forces of Latvia. The loss was found during the inventory that was carried out at the end of last year. Two functional audit checks were started and a criminal process was launched. Apparently – as the Ministry of Defence affirms – the persons suspected of theft have already been identified.

This news, frankly speaking, doesn’t have a cosmic scale. The ministry isn’t interested in its dissemination — why cry over spilt milk? Nevertheless, someone leaked information to Latvian television. And it released the information on the airwaves, without being afraid that “Kremlin propaganda” will use it. Let’s agree that this story is strange.

I will state my version of events. No conspirology, facts and only facts.

They helped the bad guys

On October 9th 2018 the Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze website published Imants Vīksne’s report about how the “Tēvijas sargi” organisation, which is engaged in training young Latvians in skills of hand-to-hand combat, delivered freight from Latvia to Ukrainian voluntary battalions. Among other things, the freight also included night vision devices. The report mentioned that the specified recipient was the Azov battalion.

“Tēvijas sargi” and “Neatkarīgā” (“Independence”), which glorified the volunteer “feat” of “Azov”, seriously slipped up concerning “Azov”. The matter is that “Azov” is recognised in the United States as a neo-Nazi organisation, and this division is forbidden from receiving American military aid.

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In 2015 the House of Representatives of the US Congress adopted amendments that banned giving aid to “Azov”. Later, under the pressure of the Pentagon, the amendments were cancelled. However in March 2018 the American Congress unambiguously forbade Kiev from transferring the weapons received from the US to the “Azov” battalion.

“White supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world […] I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the U.S. from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion fighting in Ukraine”

said the congressman from California Rokit Khanna, commenting on the made decision

It is clear that formally the American ban doesn’t in any way apply to the citizens of Latvia who are interested in helping likeminded Ukrainian neo-Nazis. But, besides the law written on paper there are also unwritten rules of life, sometimes they are called “concepts”. Helping those who the boss considers to be the bad guys is not allowed. This is disloyalty and disrespect for the boss.

Congress doesn’t doze

But the boss may not have noticed the publication in the media. That’s why at this same time, in October, I made the effort to send a letter to the American ambassador in Latvia Nancy Pettit. In the letter I asked the ambassador to state her attitude towards the fact that Latvian organisations give military aid to neo-Nazis, and also suggested that the night vision devices that were handed over to “Azov” could’ve been taken from the warehouses of the Latvian army.

I believe that my assumption was true. It is worth looking in Ukraine, in the barracks of the “Azov” battalion, for the night vision devices that disappeared from an army warehouse. A certain officer of the National Armed Forces who sympathises with Nazis could’ve handed over or sold them to volunteers from “Tēvijas sargi”.

Everything after this is just the bureaucratic details. The instruction to pay special attention to night vision devices and to check their existence in the warehouse was given “from above” to those who oversaw the inventory of army property. And this is how the loss was discovered.

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In passing, there is probably political interests and conflicts between Latvian parties in this case too. The Minister of Defence Raimonds Bergmanis is from the “Union of Greens and Farmers” (UGF). Discrediting him benefits those who want to push UGF out of the ruling coalition.

I am not really interested in this inter-party squabbling. But it is pleasant that several local “Azov” sympathisers – even if it was with the help of the transatlantic Congress – were discharged from military service.

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