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The Russian ambassador to Latvia has denied rumors that Russia
The Russian ambassador to Latvia has denied rumors that Russia was involved in violent unrest last month in the Latvian capital, when some 50 people were injured, a Latvian news website said on Friday.

Trouble broke out in Riga late on January 13 after a peaceful protest, involving thousands of people, turned violent when demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at parliament, smashed windows and looted stores. Riot police, several of whom were reported injured, were forced to use tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd.

A number of radical Latvian politicians later accused some "Russian political forces" of staging the protests in the capital of the Baltic state.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Veshnyakov said addressing students at the University of Latvia that the protest was an act of hooliganism and categorically rejected Russia's involvement in the January events.

"It is beneficial for some politicians to instigate hatred against Russian-speaking people. This is an obvious provocation," Veshnyakov said.

The demonstrators in January were demanding new parliamentary elections in the Baltic State and accused the government of economic mismanagement amid the current financial crisis.

Latvia's economy, which until last year enjoyed rapid growth, is expected to contract by 5% this year.

Latvia has been forced to take a 7.5 billion euro (about $10 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union. The country plans to cut public spending by 15%, freeze state employees' salaries and raise taxes. The measures have sparked protests across the former Soviet republic and now EU and NATO member.


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