Demo voices discontent over immigration policy from moderate to extreme

Take note – story published 8 years ago

With Riga basking in glorious summer sunshine Tuesday, around 250 people chose to shun the beaches and lakes in order to picket the cabinet building and express various levels of disquiet with Latvia's immigration policy ranging from the reasoned to the racist.

Coincidentally the number is approximately the same as the 250 refugees Latvia has agreed to take in over 2 years.

Though led by extreme right-wing groups, the protest in hot summer sunshine was also attended by several members of the nationalist National Alliance (NA), one of three parties comprising the Latvian government meaning that in effect they were protesting their own government's policies.

NA member of parliament Raivis Dzintars told LSM: “I don't feel that EU institutions are listening to our concerns about taking in refugees from very different cultures, and our Foreign Minister is not representing us properly. Latvia has to show solidarity but if we accept this it gives a green light to people traffickers to send more refugees.”

Also in attendance were Imants Paradnieks, Janis Dombrava, Alexandrs Kirsteins and Rihards Kols.

The EU should base its immigration policy on that of Australia, Dzintars suggested while also admitting the possibility of admitting some refugees from Ukraine.

His party did not plan to leave the government he said, explaining: "Government parties do not have to be exactly the same on all issues." 

Others were more blunt in their assessment. Vilis Akis, 71, told LSM: “This is intentional genocide against the Latvian nation. People should stay in their own homelands and make things better.”

Some had traveled considerable distances to join the demonstration. A woman who gave her name merely as Aita, from Tallinn in Estonia said: “We Estonians stand together with our brothers. If you let one immigrant in, he will bring his family, then ten, then a hundred, then a thousand. It's a cancer on Europe.”

Tourists and passers-by boggled at some signs with slogans such as “Genocide against white people” and “Stop Islam”.

“I think this is sick. I support their right to assemble and express themselves but I find their ideas disgusting. They are the real threat to the nation,” said Kaspars Zellitis, 32.

Police said one arrest had been made for causing a public disturbance.

This YouTube video gives some idea of the rather 'colorful' characters involved in the picket.


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