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Radical Russians rally against foreign policy

About fifty demonstrators from Latvia’s Russian Union (LKS) gathered for a rally outside the Foreign Affairs Ministry Friday at noon, calling for the resignation of Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, reported national information agency LETA.

Led by LKS spokesman and former Saeima deputy Jakovs Pliners, the assembled protestors, many of them well known for their pro-Kremlin views, showed their displeasure with Latvia’s foreign policy, which they claim is damaging to Latvian-Russian relations.

On their posters and banners they displayed slogans calling for cooperation with Russia rather than confrontation.

Speakers at the rally evoked themes of famine and poverty as possible outcomes of Russia’s countervailing food imports embargo against the EU and allied western states. They also warned the government that it “could get wiped away if the people were to rise up against it.”

Josifs Korens, a prominent supporter of ethnic-Russian politics in Latvia said the government is “leaving the people with no pants on,” and urged the demonstrators to “think seriously about whom to vote for in the elections,” glancing over at Pliners, who is a leading candidate on the LKS ticket for the 12th Saeima elections.

Activist Jeļena Bačinska claimed that several companies in Latgale region have already declared bankruptcy because Russia had been their only export market.

Among the protesters was National Bolshevik agitator Beness Aijo and other regular attendees of LKS pickets.

The demonstrators blasted through loudspeakers music by Russian show business figures Oļeg Gazmanov, Josif Kobzon and Valeriya (Alla Perfilova), whom Rinkēvičs barred from entering Latvia last month to participate in the Russian New Wave popular music festival because of their sympathies with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

LETA said passers-by responded to the picket with whistles and boos until the crowd melted away.

Pliners had stated previously that the demonstration was intended to show the Latvian and EU governments that “the people of Latvia strive for goodwill in their neighborly relations with Russia, but that this provoked trade war goes against the people’s interests.”

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