Saeima bans symbols of Putin's invasion

On Thursday, March 31, the Saeima agreed in a final reading on amendments to the law which ban the use of symbols glorifying military aggression and war crimes in public events. 

Latvia already has a ban on the use of Nazi and Soviet symbols such as the swastika and hammer-and-sickle at public events, and now the Putin regime's 'Z' and 'V' symbols will be added to this gallery of illegal iconography. The symbols of Putin's regime and its fascist overtones now rank alongside those of Hitler and Stalin.

"In condemning Russia's hostilities in Ukraine, we must take a firm stand that symbols glorifying Russian military aggression, such as the letters 'Z', 'V' or other symbols used for such purposes, have no place in public events," Artuss Kaimiņš, Chairman of the Saeima Commission for Human Rights and Public Affairs said. 

The law also prohibits the promotion and glorification of events containing the ideology of the Nazi and communist regimes during public events, including anniversaries commemorating those ideologies, and a ban on celebrating the occupation of free and independent territories or parts thereof. Exceptions are made where the purpose of these measures is not to glorify totalitarian regimes or to justify criminal offenses or to use them for educational, scientific or artistic purposes, for example suring the shooting of a movie. 

The amendments also stipulate that organizers of events will not be issued a permit to organize an event if the planned event is held closer than 200 meters from any monument glorifying the victory and memory of the Soviet army or its soldiers in Latvia. That effectively puts the brake on any organized Soviet "Victory Day" events on May 9 at remaining Soviet monuments.

The fine for violation of the established procedure for organizing and conducting public entertainment and festive events has also been increased, providing that a warning or fine of up to 400 euros will be payable by individuals and up to 3,200 euros for legal entities.

The Saeima debate about on May 9 and those marking it was wide-ranging, with some deputies saying the tradition should be eradicated completely and others saying it should be a matter of personal choice. Opinions varied on to what extent legal prohibitions should be in place, but many deputies noted that for Latvia May 9, 1945 was the start of another period of illegal Soviet occupation and not a ''victory" at all.  

The Commission for Education, Culture and Science also asked for amendments to the Sports Law to be included on the Saeima agenda in order to prohibit Latvian sports teams from participating in Russian and Belarusian championships and tournaments.   

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