Riga mayor vows ECHR showdown over election tweet

Riga mayor Nils Ušakovs said Thursday he would go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg in order to fight against a 50 euro fine imposed on him for election campaigning during a prohibited period.

In the run-up to last October's parliamentary elections, Ušakovs posted seemingly ordinary Twitter and Facebook messages inviting voters to support the Harmony party which he heads.

However, the Tweet fell foul of Latvia's strict election laws which prohibit campaigning on polling day and immediately before and Ušakovs found himself slapped with a 50 euro penalty which he has failed to reverse.  

Writing appropriately enough on Twitter on Thursday, Ušakovs said:

"Never would I have thought it would be necessary to approach the European Court of Human Rights to fight for freedom of expression on social networks. However, it turns out that's what will have to happen.

An appeal court decision not to overturn his fine was "a clear restriction of freedom of expression," which would potentially affect thousands of users of social networks, Ušakovs said.  

"I believe that every Latvian citizen has the right, on their personal profile on a social network, to invite people to vote for or against any party or politician... But now, unfortunately, that can only be confirmed at the European Court of Human Rights."

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Politics
Politics