No fireworks on May 9 in Latvia

On May 9, regarded as WWII Victory Day by some of the Russian-speaking population, fireworks and festivities which do not correspond to the interests of national security, glorify military aggression or falsely reflect historical events, will be prohibited, the Saeima decided in two readings on April 20.

On Thursday, April 20, the Saeima, as a matter of urgency, adopted a Law prepared by the Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee in two readings with no votes against it, which provides for the prohibition of pyrotechnics and some types of events on May 9 .

The purpose of the Law is to defend security interests, “to prevent the values of Latvia as a democratic and national state from being undermined”, to prevent society from splitting, glorifying war, military aggression, totalitarianism, violence, and misrepresenting historical events.

The law also aims to “solidarize with the Ukrainian people, whose sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country is threatened by Russian military aggression, and to commemorate the victims and deaths of Ukraine”.

The Law stipulates that on May 9, it is prohibited to organize public entertainment and holiday events, meetings, walks and protests throughout Latvia, except such public events which do not conflict with the purpose of the Law.

On May 9, events may be organized to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to commemorate the victims and deaths of Ukraine.

If the organization of a non-conforming measure requires a permit from the local government, the local authority will not issue the permit.

On May 9 the whole day and on May 10 until 7 in the morning, the use of pyrotechnic articles will be prohibited.

The Law also determines that local governments will cancel permits for the organization of public events in its territory on May 9, if such have been issued already.

“Everyone is aware that May 9 is the day that a separate part of society uses to glorify totalitarian and occupation regimes, and it is in our interest to prevent measures that undermine our values, divide society, glorify military aggression, and promote false historical events,” Ieva Brante, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs, said.

The law will enter into force on the day following its announcement.

The law does not set time limits and should therefore apply to all the dates of May 9 in the future.

For years before, some parts of the society, mostly Russian-speaking, would gather at the 'Victory' monument in Uzvaras Park (demolished in August 2022) to lay flowers and engage in loud festivities. Last year, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, festivities were prohibited. Last year, LSM also published a three-part series outlining the timeline and opinions around the date and the monument (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). 

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