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Authorities in Riga gave the go ahead for a Latvian Legion
Authorities in Riga gave the go ahead for a Latvian Legion group to hold a public event to commemorate Latvians who fought for the Nazis during WWII, a parliamentary official said Friday. 

Riga authorities turned down four applications by other groups but agreed to allow the Daugavas Vanagi organization, a Latvian veteran group, to hold a short street march on March 16 in the country's capital to honor former Latvian soldiers and members of the Waffen-SS.

The authorities denied the requests by other groups due to previous public order violations.

A Latvian Legion march in 2005 through Riga resulted in dozens of arrests after clashes with Russian activists. The march involved WWII SS veterans and young nationalists.

Latvian Legion day commemorates a historic battle in March 1944 between the Soviet and German armies on the banks of the Velikaya River, northwestern Russia.

Soviet troops began their assault on March 16 forcing German Waffen-SS divisions to withdraw, however Latvian troops held their lines and prevented the Soviets from advancing further.

Although Latvian Legion day, which was revived in the 1990s, does not specifically celebrate the SS by name, claiming to honor all those who fought in the war, the holiday was subsequently cancelled after international pressure.

Relations between Russia, Latvia and Estonia have been marred in the past few years by what Moscow calls the unequal treatment of ethnic Russians, the alleged persecution of Soviet WWII veterans, and the apparent revival of nationalism and fascism in the Baltic States.

Latvia has been criticized by Amnesty International for its treatment of its 400,000 Russian-speaking population who continue to live in the country without citizenship.


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