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Latvia rejects Russia's trumped-up accusations over law on participants of World War II
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    Latvia rejects Russia's trumped-up accusations over law on participants of World War II

    RIGA, Jan 11 (LETA) - The Latvian Foreign Ministry rejects the unsubstantiated accusations by the Russian Foreign Ministry in relation to the law on the status of a participant of World War II recently adopted in Latvia, the Latvian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gints Jegermanis, told LETA.

    The spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said previously that the promulgation of this law will have serious consequences for the Russian-Latvian relations. She claimed that the law was aggravating the division in Latvia's society, playing into the hands of the forces that are interested in fanning xenophobic attitudes and ethnic discord in Latvia. "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," she said.

    Commenting on Zakharova's statement, the Latvian Foreign Ministry pointed out that Latvia was not among the countries that started World War II or were participating in the war. Latvia was a victim of World War II, as its statehood was annihilated by the Soviet military aggression.

    Latvia suffered immensely from World War II, losing nearly one-third of its population during the war. The Soviet occupation was followed by Nazi occupation, which was replaced by another period of Soviet occupation which lasted 45 years. During World War II, the warring parties - Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - breached the 1907 Hague Convention and illegally called up Latvian residents to serve in their military formations, the Latvian Foreign Ministry said.

    The law on the status of a World War II participant seeks to re-establish historical justice and to correct illegalities committed during the Soviet rule by giving the said status to the Latvian citizens participating in the armed combat against the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany in regular military units of other countries. The purpose of the bill is to promote universal understanding about World War II and equal treatment of all war veterans in Latvia, the ministry said, underlining that persons convicted of war crimes or crimes against the humanity are not eligible to the status.

    Latvia denounces crimes against humanity committed by the Soviet and Nazi Germany during World War II, condemns the Holocaust and honors its victims, the ministry said.

    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 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 17:32
    • LETA
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