State Security Service moves to prosecute man over deportation comments

On March 30, 2020, Latvia's State Security Service (VDD) initiated a criminal prosecution against  an individual in connection with offensive comments made about deportations to Siberia under Soviet occupation, according to information posted on the VDD's website on April 8.

"Last year, on the day of the commemoration of the victims of the Communist genocide on March 25, the person published a comment in Russian on the social network Facebook, claiming that on June 14, 1941 and March 25, 1949, 57,549 Latvians were taken away for education free of charge. In his comment, the person pointed out that those who returned to Latvia receive higher benefits than other pensioners, moreover, "not everyone chose to return because they felt better in Siberia," said the VDD.

The security service said it regarded the comment as grossly insulting to people deported on 14 June 1941 and 25 March 1949, events which are recognized as crimes against humanity under international law. 

"In addition, the person has interpreted these tragic events for the people of Latvia in his commentary as favorable to the population, thus mocking them," the VDD said.

The VDD initiated criminal proceedings on March 26, 2019 in accordance with Article 74.1 of the Criminal Law and has handed over the materials of the criminal proceedings to the Riga Court District Prosecutor's Office, encouraging them to initiate criminal prosecution.

The VDD did not itself name the individual concerned, but the LETA newswire said he was former Stopiņi district councillor and kickboxer Jurijs Vasiljevs, who stood for the small euroskeptic Ricības partija (Action party) in the most recent Saeima elections, though he previously was among the ranks of both the Harmony party and For Human Rights In A United Latvia (which subsequently morphed into the Latvian Russian Union party). 

Judging by his more recent social media posts he is not perturbed by the prospect of prosecution - the post below says: "I was in Moscow! This is power! I returned to Latvia !! Only to let the Latvian Security Police know that they cannot do anything!"

It is far from the first time Vasiljevs has made inflammatory and ignorant comments, having perviously called for the castration of people participating in Ukraine's Maidan uprising.

 

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