Latvians claimed among pro-Russia volunteers in Ukraine

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Latvian state officials and the Security Police (DP) have confirmed that three separate video postings have appeared on the Internet depicting alleged residents of the eastern Latvian town of Ludza in volunteer armed service among pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, reported LTV news program Panorāma Sunday.

In the videos, the machine gun-toting, Russian-speaking self-proclaimed men-from-Ludza explain why they have joined the separatist ranks in Ukraine and urge others to follow their example.

The DP confirmed that these men are indeed residents of Latvia and have been under surveillance for a considerable period of time as members of the National Bolshevik organization.

“I’m from Latvia, from Ludza, a little town near the Russian border…”

So begins the address by one of the men, who calls himself a Russian patriot and compares the situation in Latvia with Ukraine a few years ago. In the background a soundtrack of thundering music and hand-grenade images introduce the ‘New Russian Guard’ and captions indicating bank account numbers ready to accept donations close the clip.

“It’s great here. They give you a machine gun. The weather’s great and it’s not boring,”

“It’s great here. They give you a machine gun. The weather’s great and it’s not boring,” says the man going by the name Vasek.

Sedoya, or Grey-hair, the star of the second video also claims to hail from Ludza and tells of his inability to stand aside and watch from afar:

“If we lose here in Ukraine, in Latvia there’ll also be a wild furor. They’ll start to hate the Russian world in Latvia, too. Latvia is a mirror of Ukraine. And in Latvia those, too, who defend Ukraine call the Russians Colorado-beetles and other epithets. It only takes a trifle to move from one situation to the other.

"That’s why we must suppress the Ukrainians here, to prevent something similar from happening in Latvia. I’d rather die than let that happen. I used to watch videos like this, but then I grew ashamed. A real man needs to be here. One must protect one’s land, one’s birthplace and women. We await you all, boys, come on down! Let’s protect our honor!”, he exhorts.

In the third video, a man calling himself Vasyok claims they are three friends who have arrived to help the pro-Russian rebels. He also says the situation in Latvia is like that in Ukraine. There is a cold war prevailing, wherein Latvians and Russians hate each other, but are not yet physically fighting.

The DP said it has been informed about these activities, considers them to be "of criminal nature", and is following up on them thoroughly and doing all in its power to prevent any security risks to Latvia.

“The reference of these persons to Latvia specifically testifies again that the traveling of residents of Latvia to the conflict regions can unfavorably influence the security situation at home, therefore we are following these kinds of activities closely and taking all essential measures to avert any potential security risks they might create,” DP spokeswoman Kristīne Apse-Krūmiņa told Panorāma.

Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs confirmed that the topic was discussed at this weekend’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting, as other EU citizens are heading to the region with similar motives in increasing numbers.

“There’s a similar situation in Estonia, from where there are people in Donbas. I hope the EU bureaucracy can prepare the documentation required to declare these self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as terrorist organizations to help security forces fight this phenomenon. Undoubtedly such blatant invitations should be perceived as attempts to destabilize the situation in Latvia and are being disseminated here with that goal in mind,” said the foreign minister.

MEP and former defense and foreign minister Artis Pabriks weighed in as well, saying that such taking part in terrorist activities is a potential threat not just to Ukraine, but to Latvia, too.

If we identify such a person as having taken part in such activities or even joining an army, they can be stripped of their citizenship, which is what must be done in this case,”

“Our legislation states that if we identify such a person as having taken part in such activities or even joining an army, they can be stripped of their citizenship, which is what must be done in this case,” he said.

Moreover, if the Latvian-resident volunteer mercenaries turn out to be non-citizens, then they must lose their residency permits and suffer the appropriate punitive measures, Pabriks proposed.

 

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