It’s official: anti-fascist beliefs are a criminal offence in Latvia

MOSCOW, 11 Sep 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

On Wednesday, September 8, the Riga District Court confirmed the verdict of the Vidzeme District Court, which found human rights activist and scientist Aleksandr Gaponenko guilty of spreading anti-fascist statements. This is reported by the German Russian-language publication “Russian field“.

The court gave Gaponenko a 10-month suspended sentence with two years of probation.

According to the publication, the verdict is a landmark, since for the first time the prosecution for anti-fascism in Latvia has acquired a legal form. Previously, anti-fascists in Latvia were persecuted by the secret police only by illegal means.

“Indirectly, the court’s decision recognised that fascism is a key element of the state ideology, an element that cannot be criticised under the threat of criminal punishment,” the author of the article writes.

The prosecution’s accusation was based on the fact that Gaponenko’s Facebook posts in 2015 contained a condemnation of the latest march of followers of the Latvian Legion of SS Troops (Waffen SS), as well as the assumption that the glorification of Nazi criminals is an element of the policy of national radical groups in power.

According to the prosecution, these statements are “inciting national discord”, since they can cause “unpleasant feelings” for Latvians. The defence’s arguments that fascism was condemned by the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal and numerous UN resolutions were rejected by the court on the grounds that these decisions and resolutions have no legal force on the territory of Latvia. The resolution of the European Parliament of 2018, condemning the practice of glorifying Nazism in Latvia, was also not taken into account, since the “acts” of the convicted person were committed before its adoption – in 2015.

The prosecution of the anti-fascist scientist was initiated by the right-wing National Unity party. The court fully agreed with their interpretation of Gaponenko’s words.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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