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Latvian law on World War II participants to have serious impact on bilateral relations - Russian Foreign Ministry
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    Latvian law on World War II participants to have serious impact on bilateral relations - Russian Foreign Ministry

    RIGA, Jan 11 (LETA) - The law on the status of a participant of World War II recently promulgated by Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis will have serious consequences for the Russian-Latvian relations, said Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    "Regrettably, we are already well familiar with Riga's consistent efforts to rewrite history. Having cynically insulted the memory of 150,000 Soviet soldiers that heroically gave their lives for Latvia's liberation, its political leaders have actually conferred the same status of participants in World War II on those who fought on the side of Nazi Germany and their accomplices and the soldiers of the anti-Hitler coalition," she said in a statement published on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    "Obviously, this law is aggravating a division in society, playing into the hands of the forces that are interested in fanning xenophobic attitudes and ethnic discord in Latvian society," Zakharova said.

    "We are outraged by this contemptuous legislative act. This overt mockery of the course and outcome of World War II is absolutely unacceptable and will have serious consequences for Russian-Latvian relations," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

    She said that Russia had urged the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe "to provide a principled assessment to this flagrant act by the Latvian authorities".

    As reported, in early January Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis promulgated the law on the status of a participant of World War II, although the parliamentary faction of the opposition left-wing pro-Russia Harmony party had asked him to return the bill to the parliament for revision.

    The Harmony faction chairman, Janis Urbanovics, said in the letter to the Latvian president that, under the new law in its current wording, the status would be granted only to some of Latvian citizens. People, who became Latvian citizens through naturalization, and Latvia's non-citizens are not eligible to the status of a participant of World War II.

    As a result, most of the Red Army veterans would not be able to get the status, Urbanovics said, stressing that people, who had actually won World War II, would be denied the status.

    The said eligibility criteria make naturalized citizens the second-class citizens in Latvia and blatantly weaken the status of non-citizens as people belonging with Latvia, Urbanovics said. This is contradictory to the Citizenship Law which says all Latvian citizens have equal rights and obligations, regardless of how and when they obtained the citizenship, and would lead to division rather than reconciliation within the country's population, he stated.

    The Latvian parliament at the end of 2017 passed the law on the status of a participant of World War II which would be given to all Latvian citizens, who fought in regular military units against Soviet or German forces during the war. The participants of World War II will be issued special certificates and memorial badges.

    The bill is supposed to show appreciation to those Latvian citizens, who were mobilized to serve in the German and Soviet armies during World War II regardless of their will, promote consolidation of Latvia’s society and an equal treatment of all war veterans.

    • Published: 11.01.2018 13:13
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