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Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned a march by Waffen SS veterans
Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned a march by Waffen SS veterans in Riga, the capital of Latvia.

The march took place on Sunday and involved over 200 Latvian Legion veterans and their supporters. The march passed through Riga under tight police security, and commemorated Latvians who had fought for the Nazis during WWII.

"Although Moscow recognizes that no Latvian officials attended the march, this does not make this congregation any less disgraceful," the ministry's information and press department said in a comment released on Monday.

Moscow said it regretted the fact that Riga authorities had allowed the march to be held, despite numerous protests from Latvian and international public organizations.

"History, namely the Nuremberg Trials, condemned the fascist organization Waffen SS and its barbaric crimes," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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

Marches by Latvian Legion veterans and their supporters have been held since 1994.

The March 16 actions of pro-Nazi Latvian troops were officially celebrated until 2001, when the date was deleted from the official commemoration list on the initiative of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

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.

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.


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