On November 6, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative organization Bellingcat published links to a message database from a website called Iron March which it describes as "a now-defunct neo-Nazi / white supremacist message board."
As well as messages, the data included information making it possible to identify posters, such as email addresses, IP addresses and other contact data. The leaked data is all available online.
Among the posters is someone with the username "Latvian_Integralist" whose email address is listed as a Gmail account in the name of Raivis Zeltīts.
Raivis Zeltīts is the name of the secretary general of the National Alliance political grouping. He is also a local councillor for Mārupe, a suburb of Rīga and a chairman of a self-styled think-tank named "Family. People. State." He was also a National Alliance candidate in last year's Saeima elections.
However, his Gmail account email address listed at the National Alliance website is slightly different to the one listed in the data leak (the first and second names are transposed).
The messages posted by "Latvian_Integralist" include an exchange with forum moderator Benjamin Noyles in which he asks for earlier comments posted online to be redacted.
Noyles' real name is Benjamin Raymond, a British far-right activist and founder of an organization called National Action, which British Home Secretary Amber Rudd banned, describing it as: “a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology."
In a Daily Express profile of Noyles/Raymond, he is pictured brandishing an assault rifle while apparently wearing a Latvian-style scarf and lapel ribbon.
The text of one message signed "Raivis Z" in particular is of interest and reads:
Hello Benjamin. About that post, where you quoted my letter. Could you delete some fragments from it, because some of those things shouldn't go public. It is not the Ironmarch users that I'm worried about, but our party have had some experience when media takes something out of the context and makes big deal out of it. We are now very careful about our public image, because one mistake is all what the media needs. I have responsibility for my party not to do anything that would harm our image.
These are the things that are little dangerous and I would be grateful if you would take them out: "Now we have became more "friendly" to masses." This just sounds too cynical.
In this election our approach was like I said "friendly to masses."
Many of them are not nationalists, just patriotic people, but it helps for our public image (as we are often portrayed as fascists (like it's a bad thing!)
"At that time TB/LNNK had lost all its influence and we pretty much control our coalition. Corrupt politicians had to leave and when we will make a single party (in this autumn) it basically will be liquidation of old TB/LNNK. I predict that name and symbolism of united party will be ours."
Right now we are deciding about the new name and symbolism, propably It will be like I said, but In my letter I am too opened about it.
"Some in the party leadership say that we should start a mass movement for 4th national awakening (it's also title of one of R.Dzintars books), where our party would be political wing of the movement, but there would also be choirs, sport clubs, paramilitary and other civic organizations committed to our goal - Latvia for Latvians. That's also what I would like to see."
These plans definitely shouldn't be known publicly.
''Our liberal wing and radical wing often work on their own, instead just of being the different expressions of same spirit."
Public doesn't need to know about our inner weaknesses.
"We cannot destroy the system, because it would be in the interests of Russians."
They would love to see that we even a consider possibility to destroy the system
I think without these things the meaning is still there and people get the idea what we are about. The rest is ok.
LSM contacted Mr. Zeltīts to ask if the messages were genuinely written by him and, if so, whether he felt that such views were compatible with his position as secretary general of the National Alliance. He replied by referring us to a Facebook post in which he says he was 20 years old at the time of the postings (he is now 27) and adds:
"I have never concealed that I was more radical in the maximalism of my youth... I am aware that it casts a shadow over me and the party."
Though he does not explicitly address his original comments or the reasons he was involved with Iron March, he does say "I apologize to those close to me, supporters and to the National Alliance for this shadow."
He also said that he was in favour of a democratic political system and that his more recent writings and activities underlined this, and that he would accept whatever decision the National Alliance came to with regard to the controversy.