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Moscow is worried about what it sees as persecution of WWII veterans and former Soviet-era officers in two Baltic states
Moscow is worried about what it sees as persecution of WWII veterans and former Soviet-era officers in two Baltic states, a senior foreign ministry official said Monday. "We [Russia] are deeply concerned that Riga and Tallinn continue to praise Nazi collaborators on the one hand, and persecute anti-fascists, war veterans, and those employed by Soviet-era law enforcement agencies on the other hand, " government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko as saying. Yakovenko's statement came on the back of controversy over plans by Latvian nationalists and radicals to hold street marches March 16 commemorating as heroes Latvians who fought in the Waffen SS during the World War II. Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga slammed the planned marches Monday. "[Latvia] has set a special date, November 11, for commemorating soldiers, while March 16 is the kind of holiday that we really do not need," she said in an interview on Latvian state television. "It is used to attract attention to the alleged revitalization of fascism and Nazism." The Latvian authorities have rejected permission for SS marches, but leaders of nationalist movement All For Latvia and youth organization Club 415 have said they will go ahead anyway. Yakovenko said Moscow would step up efforts "to attract the attention of the global community to negative aspects of the humanitarian situation in Latvia and Estonia" through the UN Human Rights Commission. "I suggest that the UN's authoritarian Human Rights Commission cannot and should not ignore such alarming symptoms," he said. Russia had not made extra demands of Latvia and Estonia regarding human rights, Yakovenko said, adding that the major issue remained the denial of citizenship to Russian speakers in the two countries, which constitutes a violation of their right to social guarantees. Discrimination against the Russian community in Latvia and Estonia has been a major source of tension with Russia since the two former Soviet republics gained independence in 1991.
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