LTV's De Facto looks at 'Baltic anti-fascist' case

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, the Telegram communication app group “Baltic antifascists” was created. An investigation into participation in a criminal organization has been launched against at least five persons associated with the group. Latvian Television's broadcast De Facto, aired June 18, took a closer look at the group.

The group's channels regularly support Russia's advanced war in Ukraine and publishes calls for gathering information about Latvian state officials. In November last year, an investigation against the Baltic antifascists was launched by the State Security Service.

Tatjana Andrijeca, a member of the Latvian Russian Union (LKS), who gained some notability last year in protest against the demolition of Soviet occupation monuments, has been in custody for the fifth month. Last year the young woman was dismissed from her work at Riga City Council, and she left to continue her studies in St. Petersburg. Andrijeca was arrested in February when she briefly returned to Latvia.

One of the leaders of the LKS, Riga City Council deputy Miroslavs Mitrofanovs says Andrijeca stopped activities in the party. He had spoken to Andrijeca several times, and she had denied the connection with the Telegram channels. “She swore she wasn't connected to any business relationship there. Another question, of course, over there [in Russia] was the kind of small “party” from Latvian emigrants who came from Riga, from Daugavpils. And they stewwed there in their own juices,” says Mitrofanovs.

Initially, the State Security Service initiated criminal proceedings on aid to a foreign state against Latvia, but in early June Andrijeca and others were applied a much more serious article – the conduct of a criminal organization and participation in the crimes committed by such an organization. =

“Now what the story is, I don't know. I would like to see what this accusation is based on, because it is too serious,” says Mitrofanovs.

The head of the State Security Service Normunds Mežviets says that the aim of the “Telegram” groups set up by the Baltic antifascists is to create interethnic tension in Latvia by distributing various pro-Kremlin messages, by turning against the Latvian state and by questioning the crimes Russia has committed against Ukraine.

Mežviets confirms that several persons who have been involved in the spreading of this propaganda resource have been arrested in criminal proceedings: “Several persons are in custody. The investigation into this criminal case continues, and these individuals, I hope, will be brought to justice.”

In addition to Andrijeca, two known activists from various organizations – Aleksandrs Žguns and Staņislavs Bukains – are also in custody.

Meanwhile, from the other side of the border, the “Baltic Antifascists” channel continues to publish Russian propaganda messages. One of the activists, Viktorija Matule, said in a video that the real administrators of the “Baltic Antifascists” account were located “outside the occupied territories of NATO” and that they would return “only in a tank.”

Activists Sergejs Vasiļjevs and Vadims Avva have said in a video addressed to the Latvian security service that the detainees in Latvia had nothing to do with the Telegram channel.

Avva and Vasiļjevs appear occasionally on Kremlin television broadcasts, spreading lies about Latvian politics. “In general, the meaning of Latvia's existence – like all the Baltics – is to cause maximum damage to Russia and every Russian,” Vasiļjevs has stated in one of the Russian shows, according to De Facto.

A couple of years ago Avva, together with the then Saeima deputy, Aldis Gobzems, launched the “Awakening 3.0” project, which supposedly aimed to launch a discussion between Latvians and Russians. The Gobzems and Avva project was more a dialogue between them and didn't go on for too long.

In the Latvian Russian Union, Avva has previously been seen as a friend, now as an enemy, as he has repeatedly called on the party to self-destruct. “After he left, I haven't spoken to him, and I'm pretty disgusted to talk about this man now,” said Mitrofanovs.

Last week, the Saeima's Internal Security Sub-Committee listened to the State Security Service and the annual report of the institution. In a closed session, MPs were also informed of the investigation against the Baltic anti-fascists.

The head of the sub-committee, Edvīns Šnore, said he would like the security service to focus more actively not only on openly pro-Kremlin agents but on Russian influence agents who seek to influence public opinion in a more covert way. Representatives of the service have confirmed that they are targeting Russian influence agents not only in the Russian environment, but also in the Latvian environment, said Šnore.

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