RIGA, Latvia: Two cities in Latvia have banned rallies on March 16 that would honor Latvians who fought in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.
Legislatures in the capital, Riga, and the Baltic Sea resort city of Liepaya on Tuesday also banned all counter-demonstrations against the former Nazi collaborators, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said Monday on Latvian state television: "(Latvia) has set a special date, Nov. 11, for commemorating soldiers, whereas March 16 is a kind of holiday that we really do not need. … It is used to attract attention to the alleged revival of fascism and Nazism." Leaders of several nationalist groups said they would go ahead with plans for the rallies, despite the official ban.
Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis has said that all security measures would be in place on the day of the rallies. Two organizations of ethnic Russians living in Latvia have announced that they "would not tolerate the Nazis walking freely on the streets of their cities," which suggests that they are planning unsanctioned protests.
Last year on March 16, clashes between nationalists and leftists led to the arrests of 20 people.