Latvian Saeima outlaws post-Soviet Victory Day celebrations. Only Europe Day festivities will be permitted on May 9.
The Latvian parliament has passed a bill to ban all public celebrations on May 9, the only exception being the international Europe Day. The Latvian outlet Delfi reports that the Saeima considered the legislation on an expedited basis.
Initially, the Latvian authorities had planned to declare May 9, 2023, to be a day of mourning for the victims of Russia’s aggressive war in Ukraine, as was already done in 2022. Latvia’s Human Rights Commission, however, deemed this insufficient and developed a proposal to ban all fireworks, processions, and other public festivities between May 9 and 7 a.m. on the following day.
The new law is meant to prevent glorification of warfare and to stem the propagandist distortions of World War II history often implicit in Victory Day celebrations.
In 2022, the Latvian authorities permitted residents to lay flowers at the foot of a World War II monument in Riga on May 9. Early on May 10, however, the flowers were removed by bulldozers, provoking indignation and criticism from some members of the community. Locals then brought more flowers to the monument. As a finale of the confrontation, the Latvian authorities dismantled the monument in late August.
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