Latvia critical of "theatrical" Russian handouts to former Soviet occupiers

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Latvia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement September 4 condemning cash payments promised by the Russian Federation to members of the former Soviet occupation regime in Latvia.

"Latvia has a negative assessment of the 2 September 2020 decision signed by Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, on the bestowing of a monetary reward upon military officers and members of security agencies who were part of the former Soviet occupying regime, and who from 1944 till 1951 were engaged in armed conflict against the people taking part in the national resistance movement on occupied Latvian territory, and who were personally involved in the organisation of persecution and repression of the residents of Latvia," the statement said. 

"Taking into account that what is described above took place in the middle of the last century and that the youngest of the individuals that may receive financial rewards must be at least ninety years of age today, Latvia views this presidential decree as an adverse theatrical gesture and not as a sign of true concern and care for the citizens of one’s country.

In any case, this move can be regarded as an unfriendly step which contributes not one tiny bit to the improvement of bilateral relations between Russia and Latvia or to their further positive development.   

"The order made by the President of the Russian Federation on 2 September 2020 to bestow financial rewards to former members of the agencies involved in repression during the Soviet occupation can, without question, be seen as another attempt to justify the crimes committed by Stalin’s regime in Latvia and in other European countries," the Ministry said, adding:    

"Latvia calls upon Russia to finally leave behind the Stalinist vision of the world and, instead, begin to think in positive categories, turning attention to the state of its economy and the modernisation of its political system, the strengthening of rule of law and the fight against corruption, so as to ensure that the residents of Russia enjoy a decent standard of living and there is a positive effect on bilateral relations between Russia and Latvia as well as in Russia’s relations with the European Union."

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