Security service probing May 9 hate speech cases

Latvia's State Security Service (VDD) said May 21 it was had launched criminal proceedings in relation to three suspected cases of hate speech and glorification of war crimes, linked to events that took place on May 9 – the day of the controversial and unofficial Soviet 'Victory day' commemorations in Rīga.

"Since the 9 May events, VDD has initiated three criminal proceedings for possible glorifying and acquittal of genocide, crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes, as well as statements aimed at triggering national hatred," the VDD said in a statement.

"These criminal proceedings were initiated as VDD identified videos in the information space, the content of which indicated the support to genocide, crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes, as well as was aimed at triggering national hatred or enmity. Two of these criminal proceedings are related to public glorifying and acquittal of Russia’s current aggression against Ukraine and its population. Within the third criminal proceedings, VDD evaluates statements that are aimed at glorifying and acquitting the deportation of Latvian population to Siberia by the USSR. Currently VDD refrains from further comments in the interests of the investigation," the VDD added.

Since 24 February 2022 when Russia’s armed forces invaded Ukraine, VDD has initiated 17 criminal proceedings in relation to hate speech, while two proceedings were taken over from the State Police.

Of these 19 proceedings, eight were for public glorifying and justification of genocide, crimes against humanity and peace and war crimes and activities aimed at triggering national hatred or enmity. 14 persons have been recognised as suspects, while 9 others as persons against whom criminal proceedings have been enacted. Two suspects are in custody arrest.

The VDD added that it "continues to assess several other cases".

The VDD is one of the three Latvian security and intelligence services, along with the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) and Defense Intelligence and Security Service (MIDD).

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