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Pirmās krimināllietas par kara Ukrainā attaisnošanu

LTV's De Facto: Latvia launches first cases related to justification of Russian war crimes

The State Security Service (VDD) has begun three criminal proceedings related to justification of the Russian side in the Ukraine war or incitement to hatred, and more cases are currently being investigated, Latvian Television's broadcast De Facto reported on March 13.

A case involves four persons from a 'healer center'. Several instances are observed online on pages which previously protested against Covid-19 vaccination. 

The 'healer case'

The first of these proceedings has been initiated on the basis of Articles 74.1 and 78 of the Criminal Law, the possible justification and glorification of crimes against peace and war crimes, as well as the possible instigation of national and ethnic hatred. On Monday, March 7, four persons were detained, all linked to the “DVS Urantija” healer center.

De Facto turned its attention to this organization soon after Russia had annexed Crimea. Already at the time, the head of Urantija, Skaidrīte Aleksejeva, praised Putin as a 'child of light'.

According to De Facto's information, in the gatherings of the organization, Ukrainians have now been called fascist demons, whereas NATO has been called an alliance of darkness. The head of Urantija, Aleksejeva, is now one of the suspects in the case launched by the State Security Service (VDD). The other two are the Urantija healer Ventis Vasiļevskis and his son, Aivis Vasiļevskis, and proceedings have been initiated against another healer. Dozens of people attend their events, but the content are also distributed electronically.

Of the four detainees, only Aivis Vasiļevskis is currently in custody. Others had different safety measures applied. Vasiļevskis has gone public with his statements, streaming live on Facebook.

Online cases

On several sites that recently protested against vaccination, the focus is now on Ukraine, and activity appears on individual posts. Last week, a bus with Ukrainian refugees arrived in Daugavpils, and the city's mayor Andrejs Elksniņš posted about it on Facebook. The post yielded hundreds of comments, and among the supportive ones were those which ask that refugees are to be 'shown their place', along with threats and mentions of Russian flags and Soviet symbols. De Facto talked to the author of the comments, who said the threats were not addressed to children but did not deny his stance.

Ingemārs Masaļskis, the chief prosecutor of the Department of Special Authorized Prosecutors of the Prosecutor General's Office, said: "Of course we have some recognized, generally accepted facts about what is good and what is bad, so the mass destruction of civilians would hardly be justified there, whatever their purpose, and people should therefore think what they are talking about, particularly in a public area, because criminal responsibility applies to publicly glorifying or justifying these activities."

The State Police said that it monitors activity both online and offline. 

“In all cases involving any kind of activity of a hooligan nature, the police shall assess it in both administrative and criminal proceedings. Investigations will be launched, for example, in relation to letter Z, which is the corresponding symbol of Kremlin aggression,” State Police spokeswoman Simona Grāvīte said.

Some complaints sent to the police or to the prosecutor's office have been transferred to the State Security Service. Two complaints come from Ukraine regarding about the Internet content created in Latvia.

According to the assessment of the VDD, the regulatory framework currently in force in Latvia is sufficient to prosecute persons who justify and glorify Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and its people. 

“At the same time, any case requires an individual and in-depth assessment. The assessment of activities supporting aggression by Russia takes into account factors such as context, situation, personal purpose, motivation, systematic nature of activities, extent and risks posed. In some cases where the review does not identify the basis for the initiation of criminal proceedings as set out in the Criminal Procedure Law, the VDD shall implement preventive measures to prevent potential hazards, for example, conduct interviews with the parties involved,” the VDD said.

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