Security Police probe Latvians fighting for Ukraine

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The Security Police (DP) are paying attention not only to Latvians possibly fighting on the side of eastern Ukrainian separatists, but also looking into those who might be doing so on Ukraine’s side, national information agency LETA learned from the service Monday.

The DP declined to mention any specific number of individuals about whom it might have news of their involvement fighting for Ukraine. Based on information gathered from various sources, it plans interventions to prevent any risks to national security from Latvians getting involved in acts of violence there with any politically motivated intent whatsoever.

From its institutional perspective, the DP repeated its call for legislative amendments to expand its scope of jurisdiction, for instance in the Criminal Code regarding illegal participation in armed conflicts abroad.

“Going to regions involved in conflicts of war, regardless of character, and becoming involved in the activities going on there, is a threat not just to Latvia’s security but to that of Europe as a whole, raising the risks of future terrorism and violence,” the DP stressed.

There is scant information available about Latvians possibly fighting on Ukraine’s side. Last fall the news portal Delfi published an interview with a Latvian going by the name ‘Artūrs’ working in the ‘Aidar’ battalion. He had explained that he had arrived from Latvia to help the Ukrainians defend their independence and fight on behalf of his own homeland, too. Of course, the controversial allegations made by Russia’s media about mercenary Balts fighting for Ukraine’s national forces also made their appearances last year.

The DP has determined that there are residents of Latvia fighting on the side of eastern Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists. The three men in question had posted unequivocally exhortative YouTube videos allegedly from the Donbas region urging their pro-Russian compatriots to join them.

Meanwhile Ukrainian soldiers treated for injuries at Latvian hospitals praised the level of quality of medical services in Latvia, for which Latvians have donated €17,000 (through the ziedot.lv portal) towards their rehabilitation. After receiving urgent and often ad-hoc surgical interventions from their own medics on the battlefield, they were transported to Latvia for more appropriate and thorough operations and treatments. Some have been here several months already.

Altogether 21 Ukrainian soldiers have received medical assistance in Latvia, with the government of Latvia granting €60,000 towards the costs.

In light of security concerns and threats made against them by other local patients, their locations are not being divulged.

“They have been threatened, told that they have been filmed, photographed, conversations recorded, and that it’s being given to Russia’s security forces,” revealed board chair Jana Streļeca of the Support Fund for the Victims of the Ukraine Conflict. She told LTV news program Panorāma that the injured had come to a European Union member-state and never dreamed that they might hear such politically motivated insults and accusations.

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