Top MP calls for sanctions against Latvia over minister’s anti-Russian tweet
“My personal opinion is that all statements must have their price. I mean, when the Latvian Foreign Minister allows such announcements he must understand that they might cause some steps from our side that might hurt the interests of Latvia – in the economic or trade sphere or somewhere else,” MP Aleksey Pushkov said in an interview with Russian radio “Moscow Speaking”.
“I don’t think that we can allow foreign politicians to talk rubbish without feeling the consequences for themselves. Therefore, if this man represents his country, the country must bear the responsibility for his words,” the Russian lawmaker added.
Pushkov’s comment came after Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics suggested in a Monday Twitter message that “Modern Russia she will end up like German Reich after both WWI & WWII.” The tweet echoes the minister’s late March press statement in which he said that any deterioration of the situation in Europe “would lead to devastating consequences to Russia.”
Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma also on the Tweet on Tuesday admitting that the wording was too strong, but allowing the Foreign Minister the right for a personal opinion.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova has also reacted to Rinkevics’s tweet.
“The Latvian diplomat certainly knows better, considering the fact that it is Latvia that hosts annual marches of Waffen-SS veterans, this country has firsthand knowledge about the Third Reich, because no European paint could fully cover the SS emblems,” Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.
The Russian diplomat referred to the Latvian practice of honoring the veterans of Waffen-SS units – Nazi troops manned with local recruits that were used for fighting against the Soviet Army, punitive operations against partisans and also in enforcement of the Holocaust. The march of Waffen-SS veterans and their supporters has been held in Riga on March 16 every year since 1998. Every time the event draws criticism from local anti-fascist movements, from Russian officials and politicians and from Jewish groups, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
During the latest such march, Latvian anti-fascists staged a protest, wearing white overalls and pretending to “disinfect” the area from the “Nazi disease,” cleaning and washing the pavement near the Freedom Monument. Other participants displayed photos from concentration camps in Latvia.