Saeima moves to let Latvians fight for Ukraine without fear of prosecution

Latvia's Saeima moved with remarkable speed Monday morning to approve legal amendments that will allow Latvian citizens to fight for Ukraine without fear of prosecution upon their return.

Until now, volunteers ran the risk of falling foul of laws designed to punish taking part in terrorist activities overseas. But the new amendements to the citizenship and national security laws say that provided they register with the administrative department of the national reserve forces in advance, Latvians can fight for the Ukrainian national forces, as well as take up military service in coutries of the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Free Trade Association, Australia,  Brazil, New Zealand and states with which the Republic of Latvia has concluded an agreement on the recognition of dual nationality.

The reading and passing of the bills in the Saeima took just fifteen minutes, part of an astonishingly rapid legislative process.  

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs suggested something along these lines might be appropriate at around 11:00 on Sunday morning.

By Sunday evening the amendments had been drawn up and approved by the Saeima's Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee to be presented to lawmakers first thing Monday morning.

At 09:00 a special sitting of the Saeima to consider the legislation began. Fifteen minutes later the bills had been passed in both their first and second readings with no votes against them registered.

"Our citizens who want to support Ukraine and go there voluntarily to defend Ukraine's independence and our common security must be able to do so," said Juris Rancāns, chairman of the Defense Committee in presenting the amendments.

According to the decree signed by the President of Ukraine on February 27, 2022, the International Territorial Defense Legion of Ukraine has been established, consisting of foreigners who want to take part in repelling attacks by the Russian military. In order to register with the International Territorial Defense Legion, volunteers can apply to their nearest Ukrainian Embassy.

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