“You Can’t Jail Everyone!”: How Human Rights Defender Aleksandr Gaponenko Continues To Be Tried in Latvia

Lawyer imma Jansone spoke to “Baltnews” about the results of the latest hearing concerning the case of the human rights defender Mr Aleksandr Gaponenko, accused by the Latvian authorities of “anti-state activities”.

The trial of the national minority rights activist in Latvia, political scientist, and public figure Aleksandr Gaponenko, who is accused of inciting ethnic discord because of his anti-war and anti-fascist publications on Facebook, was postponed to December 11th. This became known following the results of the latest hearing held on November 4th.

At the meeting, Gaponenko’s lawyer Imma Jansone carefully analyzed from a linguistic point of view each proposal from the texts of the human rights defender on Facebook, which served as the basis for the charges.

“The hearing was adjourned because the prosecutor asked me to prepare for a response after my defence speech,” said Jansone to “Baltnews”.

The trial is going in a normal direction, a decision on further action will be taken jointly with the defendant after sentencing, added Jansone.

“Aleksandr Gaponenko does not agree with the charges. In my speech I asked for him to be fully acquitted,” said the lawyer.

As Gaponenko told Sputnik Latvia himself, in her speech Jansone denied all the arguments of the prosecution.

“She defined all my speeches as aimed at criticising the authorities. That was indeed the case: I criticised the ruling elites. Firstly, for their militarisation of the country, they are expanding the presence of foreign military forces in Latvia. This threatens the security of all residents of the republic, including the Russians, as Russia is chosen as the main enemy for NATO,” said Gaponenko.

“The court is considering the case of my statements against the deployment of American military forces in Latvia and about my statements against the glorification of National Socialism in our country. The Prosecutor-General’s Office presents my speeches as an attempt to ignite hatred towards an ethnic group such as ‘American tanks’. For the Prosecutor’s Office, criticism of the march of legionaries of ‘Waffen SS’ troops on March 16th represents criticism of the Latvian ethnic group, dearly equating part of the ruling top, which was in the role of accomplices of the German National Socialist, to the entire Latvian people. ‘Red Latvians’ – more than 100,000 people who fought on the side of the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War – are hypocritically put outside of the equation. The criminal process was initiated against me by the senior leadership of the radical party ‘National Alliance’, which decided to settle the score with a ‘too loud’ ideological opponent via the hands of law enforcement,” wrote the human rights defender on Facebook.

Before the hearing and after it there was an action in support of Gaponenko at the courthouse. Protesters held posters reading “You can’t jail everyone” and “Strength is in truth. The truth is with us”.

In addition to this hearing, Aleksandr Gaponenko will have another one – November 11th – on a similar charge.

Criminal proceedings were instituted against Aleksandr Gaponenko under Part 1 of Article 80 of the Criminal Law – “activities directed against the state independence of Latvia, sovereignty, territorial integrity, state power, and arrangement in a manner not stipulated by the Constitution”, as well as Article 78 – “incitement of ethnic hatred” and Article 81 – “assisting a foreign state in its activities against Latvia”.


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