Riga man describes assault by British soldier

A Riga man accused by a large section of the British press of being a Kremlin provocateur denied the claim November 3 and described the incident that resulted in him being hospitalised by a British soldier.

British newspapers The Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, The Star and The Daily Mail all reported the incident in a Riga burger restaurant within hours as being a Kremlin set-up designed to discredit the British armed forces.

However, Riga resident Aksels Aizkalns told LTV7's Segodņa večerom news show it was nothing but thuggishness.

Aizkalns related how he was standing in line behind a group of people in the McDonalds restaurant in central Riga at 6 p.m. on November 1. As he speaks English, he said that from their language and demeanour they seemed to have been drinking heavily.

One of the group pulled at Aizkalns' tie and asked him where he had got it, then said that if he didn't disappear within ten seconds, he would punch him in the face.

"I asked him - why? 'Because you are complete shit,' he replied. He started to smile and count to ten and then he punched me on the nose," Aizkalns said. 

The victim of the assault said he had no connection to the Kremlin at all and was shocked to see the British described as being victims of a provocation when exactly the opposite was the case.

Latvian state police confirmed to LTV7 that they subsequently arrested a British soldier who was behaving aggressively, who was released some hours later.

The individual was not named and it was not known if he was still in Latvia.

As previously reported by LSM, the soldier was from the Grenadier Guards, a regiment that had been participating in the Silver Arrow training exercises as part of a 3,000-strong contingent from nine countries.

No incidents involving troops of other nations were involved, and the Kremlin does not seem to have bothered targeting them. Despite initial claims the whole thing was filmed by a pro-Kremlin camera crew, no footage of the incident has appeared online.

How the scuffle was transformed into an international geopolitical conspiracy remains unclear. According to the Kas Jauns magazine, when police showed up at the scene, attempts were made by both British soldiers and a Latvian liaison officer with them to persuade the police to look on the incident in a sympathetic manner.

Those descriptions come from eye-witnesses, who are quoted anonymously, like the London defense experts in the UK press coverage.

More importantly, crying "Kremlin propaganda" to justify a straightforward criminal assault runs the risk of debasing the very real threat posed by actual Russian disinformation.

By Friday evening, the truth was beginning to dawn, even on Fleet Street.

 

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