Latvia's security service warns of radicalization risks

The State Security Service (VDD) warns of an increasing risk of right-wing extremism in society, especially among young people. VDD also said that the threat posed by right-wing extremists to Latvia's democratic order is still assessed as low, according to a VDD statement on April 22.

Over the weekend, the State Police, in cooperation with the State Security Service, detained several members of the skinhead subculture, who are suspected of publicly glorifying Nazi Germany, as well as of committing acts aimed at inciting racial hatred. Information obtained in the course of the investigation showed that the detainees had used physical violence against other persons as a result of their radical views.

"Last year, we already identified an increase in the number of young people who show an increased interest in right-wing extremist ideologies and share their views on social networking sites and communication platforms, in particular, Telegram, in an attempt to find like-minded people in Latvia and other countries," said Normunds Mežviets, Head of the VDD.

"Although the threat posed by such persons to the democratic order of our country is currently assessed as low, the tendency for the number of supporters of right-wing extremism to increase poses risks to public security.  In order to prevent the spread of right-wing extremism in society, the VDD has stepped up preventive measures to identify and prevent possible radicalization."

The increase in right-wing extremism among young people could potentially lead to an increase in violent attacks against people of different racial backgrounds, the service warned. 

The VDD cooperates closely with the State Police in identifying supporters of violent extremism. As young people are one of the groups at risk of radicalization, VDD officials have visited several hundred Latvian educational institutions during the year, informing their administrators and social educators about the signs and risks of radicalization of young people. 

In the near future, the VDD plans to organize presentations on the signs of turning to right-wing or left-wing extremism for a number of state institutions whose daily work involves dealing with groups at risk of radicalization, including prisoners and persons with mental health disorders.

The Service has also produced two information leaflets this year to inform the general public about the characteristics and symbols of supporters of right-wing and left-wing extremism. These leaflets are available on the Service's website "" in Latvian.

If signs of radicalization are detected in a fellow human being, the VDD recommends that, as far as possible, the first step should be to try to find out the reasons for the change in behaviour or appearance through a calm conversation. If what the person says reinforces suspicions of possible radicalization, it is worth encouraging the person to consult a psychologist or social worker.  However, if the person is uncooperative and shows increased aggressiveness, the VDD should be contacted immediately. The service can be contacted by calling the 24-hour hotline 67208964 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

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