Harmony avoids explanation of pro-Stalin Facebook entries in Latvia

Political party "Harmony" posted controversial pro-Stalin regime messages on Facebook, which later disappeared. No explanations were provided, Latvian Television broadcast De Facto reported on June 7.

In Stalin times, life in Latvia was better - such a message could be perceived about the regime on one of the "Harmony" Facebook pages "Saskaņa Online" (Harmony Online). The Member of the European Parliament, former Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs also shared the posts. Later, they vanished from the Facebook page. However, how the texts appeared, the party avoids explaining: some say they do not remember, reported Latvian Television.

In Latvia, 140 to 190 thousand people were injured or killed in repressions of the Stalin regime. It was a criminal regime and the Latvian Criminal Law provides for charges to be pressed in case of justifying or supporting the regime.

In many places, mostly in Russia, efforts are made to soften Stalin's crimes. One of the loudest voices in the process is pro-Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov. A year ago, in one of his broadcasts, he said: "We will no doubt remember the victims of criminal repression and repeat to ourselves - never again! But let us also honor [Stalin] for the good work done in  Russia under his leadership. It looks like a good compromise for society."

Related statements in favor of Stalin's regime appeared in Latvian and Russian on May 17 on the "Harmony Online" Facebook page.

The entry speaks of demographic processes and states that "even the Stalin regime did not destroy as many people in Latvia as our caring, intelligent, courageous representatives of power." 

The "Re:Baltica" research journalism center refuted the facts, following which "Harmony Online" posted a similar text stating that "social repression and living conditions in democratic Latvia have deteriorated considerably compared to Stalin's time." Nils Ušakovs shared both.

The author of the statement is shown to be Riga City Council deputy Imants Keišs.

"It's just a comparison", he said in an interview with De Facto, stressing that Stalin's regime is not justified. He is comparing figures because he is worried about extinction of the nation. He had not asked for these statements to be published on the page and had not known about them. The second entry, presented by "Re:Baltica" on Harmony Online, was simply recorded on his Facebook profile as another reflection on demography

Later, the records vanished from the page.

This happened after outrage began to tear through the party on social networks, which was also noticed by the Saeima deputy from Harmony, Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, indicating he would not sign under that. Later, other parliament representatives agreed.

Harmony has at least three official pages on Facebook. The Board's opinion is reflected on "sdpsLV" while "Saskaņa Online" is operated by the party's Riga department. 

One of the most visible politicians in  Riga is Anna Vladova, former Riga Vice Mayor. She had been the one to remove the posts after Saeima representatives called for it. But how they got  there, she wouldn't explain.

Vladova said at the beginning she didn't remember who recorded these, but later said she might have posted the first one. "But I don't remember", she added. She avoided talking about Stalin's mention in  these posts, indicating she had merely noticed interesting facts about demography.

Nils Ušakovs, too, mentions the same arguments, that Stalin's actions have not been justified: "People tend to write, share, discuss what has happened, and proceed."

 

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