Latvia bans public display of symbols celebrating the Russian invasion of Ukraine like the Z. It also prohibits events close to Soviet monuments.
The Parliament of Latvia decided on March 31 to ban symbols used to “signal military aggression and war crimes” from public space.
The Parliament, the Saeima, approved the amendments to the Law on Security of Public Entertainment and Festive Events in a second reading. The modifications were reviewed as a priority.
The law now prohibits the use of symbols in public events to justify or glorify military aggression and war crimes. One of the objectives is to bar from displaying the ‘Z’ in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“In condemning Russia’s hostilities in Ukraine, we must take a firm stance that symbols glorifying Russian military aggression, such as the letters ‘Z’, ‘V’ or other symbols used for such purposes, have no place in public events,” Artuss Kaimiņš, Chairman of the Human Rights and Public Affairs Commission, said.
Furthermore, public gatherings will now need to stay away from monuments at the glory of the Soviet army. Latvia will not allow the organization of public events that are not at least 200 meters away from them.
Such monuments, inherited from the Russian empire or the USSR, still exist in Latvia, like the one erected in Victory Park.
In Riga, Latvia’s capital city, a park inaugurated in 1910 was named Victory Park in 1923 in honor of the victory of Latvian troops during its war for independence in 1918-1920. A monument celebrating the Soviet army fighting against the Nazis in WWII has been erected in 1985 at the time of the USSR. Despite controversies, the monument is still standing in Victory Park.
Public events commemorating dates of victory or glorifying Nazi or communism cannot be organized on the Latvian territory either, which will affect an event coming up soon. Russian-speaking Latvians gather every year on May 9 in Riga to celebrate the liberation of Latvia from Nazism by the Soviets. Latvia does commemorate the victory over Nazism, but the official date is May 8.
May 9 is the date that Russia celebrates the surrender of the German Third Reich. The document was signed late in Berlin on May 8 but after midnight for Moscow.
Violating the legislation can result in a fine of 400 euros (444 dollars) for individuals and 3,200 euros (3,550 dollars) for organizations.
Last November, Latvia also banned the ribbon of Saint George from public display. The ribbon is a Russian military decoration dating back to 1769 that is now used as a symbol of Russian nationalism and support of Russia’s government. The spokeswoman of the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova declared in November this ban was proof that Latvia glorified Nazism.