Coalition mulls possibly banning May 9 events in Latvia

Some of the coalition are prepared to hold discussions on the possibility of preventing any kind of organized activity throughout Latvia on May 9, when a part of the society marks the so-called Victory Day, Latvian Radio reported March 25.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said in an interview on TV3 this week that the decision to ban the so-called Victory Day celebrations should be taken at the national level. The following discussions and the need for a possible centralized regulation were also highlighted by Ritvars Jansons, representative of the National Alliance:

“It is logical that flowers can be laid [by the monument] on May 8, 9, 10, 11, but this must be distinguished from supporting the empire, supporting the war in Ukraine, and ultimately linking the May 9 with the second occupation of Latvia carried out by the USSR regime.”

Changes to a law banning the organization of events on May 9 could be legally difficult to design, said Krišjānis Feldmans, representative of the Conservatives party.

“The problem is the legal wording [..] because simply banning any events on May 9 would not be the most sensible solution, as Europe Day is also celebrated at this time. If such wording could be found, I think there will be no problem in the Saeima to adopt a law. We know that this Saeima is able to react very quickly, including the adoption of laws within one day,” Feldmans said.

Events celebrating or praising the war or Russia as the aggressor should not be allowed, but they can be carried out in accordance with the existing framework – with the careful work of local governments and law enforcement, said deputy head of the Saeima faction of Development/For! Vita Anda Tērauda.

"Even if events are not allowed, different individual manifestations will be seen. I see no reason to ban the expression of individual action and opinion, while at the same time it should be possible to prohibit the use of unauthorized symbols or the glorification of war. Freedom of assembly and expression must also be protected in times of war, but the borders what can and cannot be done should be adapted to the situation. And I think we already have all the tools to make it in line with this situation," said Tērauda.

State Police are preparing for a variety of scenarios in connection with the May 9 events. The Chief of Police Armands Ruks has stated that this year going to the event would be seen as supporting Russia in war.

The Coalition could decide on a possible additional framework for preventing the events of May 9 at a meeting in the coming weeks.

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