Gay Pride and homophobia in Latvia

This video says about itself:

Craziness in Latvia

A short video on the crazed, feces-throwing mob that met a Gay Pride event in Latvia, July 22, 2006.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Latvia: Riga government urged to back Gay Pride celebration

Thursday 18th June 2015

GAY RIGHTS activists called on the Latvian government yesterday to come out in support of an international Gay Pride march in the capital Riga this weekend.

EuroPride, which celebrates the rights of LGBT people in a different European city every year, will be held in the Latvian capital on Saturday at the end of a week-long festival that began on June 15.

While EuroPride organisers say law enforcement authorities have been very co-operative, the Latvian government has failed to welcome the event.

When asked about it last December, Latvian President Andris Berzins stated that “homosexuality should not be advertised and imposed.”

In 2005, a gay pride march in Riga was marred by violence and hostility, as 70 activists defied more than a thousand homophobic counter-protesters who tried to block the march, used tear gas and threw eggs at the marchers.

Latvian Greens and neo-fascists in coalition government: here.

Rare vimba breams in the Netherlands

This video is about vimba breams, trying to jump across rapids while swimming upstream in Kuldiga, Latvia, in 2014.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON ichthyologists:

Friday, April 17th, 2015

In South Holland province more than 50 volunteers monitor incoming migration of migratory fish with frame nets. In addition to observations of elvers and three-spined sticklebacks also a lot of valuable information about other fish is collected. In early April the volunteers met several one-year-old vimba breams in their frame nets in the New Waterway near Maassluis. Observations of the vimba bream in the Netherlands are scarce, especially so of young animals.

The vimba bream owes its Dutch name, blauwneus [blue nose] to the blue-gray fleshy nose of adult animals. It was originally a Central European species that by digging the Main-Danube Canal and helped by transfers has expanded into Germany to the Rhine Valley. The first observations of the vimba bream in the Netherlands date back to 1989, when a three-year-old fish was caught in the Lower Rhine.

Latvian construction workers living in shacks at British government site

This video from England is called Eastern European labourers found living in portable cabins on site of major housing development.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

Latvian construction workers ‘housed in shacks’ on state-owned building site

Saturday 16th August 2014

BUILDERS turned the jackhammer on the Tory government yesterday after the shocking revelation that six workers were put up in shacks on a state-controlled construction site.

Six Latvian men were discovered to have been living in portakabin-style accommodation on a multimillion-pound construction site in Manchester.

The site, a former millworkers’ hostel on the city’s Hood Street, is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency.

Ucatt North West acting regional secretary Ren Davies said: “Workers should never be asked to live on a construction site, it is likely to be both dangerous and with poor welfare facilities.

“Even in exceptional cases where accommodation is provided it must be entirely separate from the site where work is being undertaken.”

Most workers on the site are employed by privateer contractor Northern.

While it agreed to move workers from their on-site digs after public outcry, Northern insisted that accommodation provided was “very similar to that used by workers on the Olympic Park.”

But Ucatt knocked back, saying that Olympic developers did not provide any accommodation for workers — let alone on site.

The union said that if the Gangmasters’ Licensing Act was enforced, companies could be stripped of their licenses for such abuses.

“Ucatt believes that expanding the Gangmasters Act to cover the construction industry would be a massive step in stamping out these types of abuses,” Mr Davies added.

The practice was also condemned by Manchester Central Labour MP Lucy Powell and local councillors.

Latvian supermarket tragedy, caused by construction industry corruption?

This video says about itself:

Latvia: Roof Caves In Again – Latvia Supermarket Collapse ‘Was Murder’

23 nov 2013

Latvia Supermarket Collapse ‘Was Murder’

The country’s president calls for the disaster to be investigated at “maximum speed” after 52 people died in the wreckage. Rescuers are still searching for 10 people who may have been killed in the collapse of a supermarket which Latvia’s president has described as “murder”. Fifty-two deaths have been confirmed after the roof of the Maxima store caved in in the capital Riga on Thursday. Meanwhile a third section of the roof collapsed on Saturday, but rescue workers said no one was injured.

President Andris Berzins said: “This case must be treated as the murder of many unprotected people.” He called for the disaster to be “investigated at maximum speed”, adding: “This is a case where we need to say clearly that an enormous number of defenceless people were killed, and that’s how we should proceed.”

Some 40 people were wounded, including 13 firefighters, and 23 people remained in hospital as of Saturday afternoon. It was the worst accident in the Baltic country since it regained independence in 1991. The government has declared three days of mourning and thousands of floral tributes and candles have been placed at the scene.

Laila Rieksta-Riekstina, head of the state’s child welfare department, told Latvia Radio that 16 children lost parents in the accident. Three of them lost both parents.

Antons Ryakhin said “about 100 people” had been inside the building with him. The 19-year-old said: “I was queuing at the cash desk when the roof suddenly caved in. It all happened within a few seconds. “It was dark but still light enough to see the exit. I ran out. The doors were open, but a lot of rubble fell in front of them – I think that’s why some people couldn’t get through.” The rescue operation has been hampered by the risk of further collapses. Preliminary reports indicate the roof caved in due to either faulty construction or building activities on the roof, where workers were creating a garden area and children’s playground for a new high-rise residential building adjacent to the supermarket. Pictures show that a large amount of building materials, including bags of soil, were left in areas of the roof that, according to Riga city officials, could have been vulnerable to heavy loads. The police investigation could take several weeks to complete.

By Markus Salzmann:

Latvia: At least 54 dead in supermarket collapse

25 November 2013

At last count, a total of 54 people have died following the collapse of the roof of a large supermarket in the Latvian capital, Riva. Another 50 injured victims have been rescued from the rubble and taken to hospitals in the region. Many people remain missing.

Among the dead are three firefighters who lost their lives when a second part of the building collapsed. Latvian media have described the disaster as the worst tragedy since the country declared independence in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The number of casualties is set to exceed those in a ferry disaster in 1994 and the fire in a nursing home in 2007, which also claimed many lives.

The chairman of the State Child Welfare Office, Laila Rieksta-Riekstina, told the press that 16 children had lost parents, with three children losing both father and mother. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the collapsed shopping centre, laid flowers and lit candles for the dead.

A number of countries, including Russia and Poland, have offered the Latvian government aid in recovery efforts and in investigations into the cause of collapse. So far, the government in Riga has refused to take up the offers.

The collapse of the roof took place around 6 p.m. local time last Thursday at a peak shopping period, with several hundred people in the building. An area of the roof comprising around 500 square metres collapsed. According to those running the centre, the fire alarm went off about 10 times prior to the incident. Nevertheless, the building was not evacuated because there were “no obvious signs of fire.”

On Saturday, rescue workers continued to search the rubble for survivors, when further sections of the roof collapsed—this time without anyone being injured. The last victims to be recovered alive were rescued on Friday night. The more than 50 injured, some seriously, were delivered to clinics across Riga and its surroundings, with a public appeal made for blood donations.

The shopping centre had been erected just two years ago and according to the Latvian media had been renovated recently. The mayor of Riga instructed the authorities to review all projects under construction by the company that built the centre. In addition to large quantities of building materials, amounts of earth had also been bunkered on the roof—although, according to a city official, the roof was not designed to take such heavy loads. BBC News reported that another factor in the collapse may have been inadequate drainage from the roof, allowing large volumes of rainwater to accumulate.

Confirming that rapid and shoddy building methods were the most probable cause of the disaster, Latvian interior minister Rihards Kozlovskis told a local television station: “It is clear that there has been a problem with fulfillment of construction requirements.” The vice mayor of the capital, Andris Ameriks, told the Latvian news agency BNS that an explosion could have taken place prior to the collapse, but he gave no details. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis convened his cabinet on Friday for a special meeting at which he announced plans to investigate the accident.

The department store was built by the Homburg Valda group, the Latvian subsidiary of the Canadian company, the Homburg International Group, and the construction company RE & RE. The shopping centre was run by the Maxima chain store consortium.

The Latvian media have reported that investigations into the cause of the accident will take some time. But the collapse of a two-year-old building, which was nominated for an architectural prize in 2011, suggests that corruption and spending cuts are among the causes.

Inhabitants of Riga expressed their concern at the levels of corruption and nepotism in the country. Taxi driver Arsenijs Smirnov told the AFP news agency: “It’s probably the same old story—do it cheap and pocket the difference. But it is ordinary people who pay the real price.”

Latvians have had bitter experiences with such cost-cutting measures in recent years. The country has been subjected to brutal austerity measures since the 2008 economic crisis, affecting mainly the public sector. Firefighters assisting at the Riga building collapse had to rely on support from soldiers because mass layoffs have left barely enough firemen for such a large-scale rescue operation. Since 2009, one third of all public employees in the country have been dismissed.

The hardest hit sector is the country’s health service. The government has closed more than half of the 56 hospitals in the country, including its largest hospital with 650 beds. Following the draconian cuts in the health care system, adequate medical care is only possible via cash payment. Now, more than 25 percent of Latvians are estimated to lack any health insurance, and even those with insurance are expected to pay high sums for treatment by a doctor or in a clinic. Doctors and hospital staff are invariably overworked and, following a succession of wage cuts, often have a second or third job to make ends meet.

After harsh cuts to pensions, the average pension in Latvia amounts to about €80 (US$108) per month. Salaries in the public sector have declined since 2008 by 55 percent, with firefighters, emergency services staff and even doctors earning on average of between €200 and €350 per month. In addition, the state minimum wage has been slashed to €200, while the child allowance was halved.

In 2009, the economy collapsed by almost 25 percent and unemployment soared to around 21 percent. The country’s budget deficit rose to 9.8 percent, and the inflation rate had already reached 15.6 percent in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the government went on to cut public spending by 13 percent.

The cuts provoked a massive wave of emigration. Riga alone lost more than 100,000 people last year, and the country’s population has declined by 10 percent since 2008. A similar development has taken place in neighboring Estonia and Lithuania, where deep austerity measures were also implemented.

The radical attacks on the living standards of the population in Latvia have won the praise of the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have gone on to salute the right-wing government of Latvia. Just last month, the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, praised the brutal austerity measures that Latvia has undertaken to prepare for its entry into the eurozone.

“I am pleased that Latvia is strengthening its position in the heart of Europe with the introduction of the euro in the coming year,” Draghi declared at a conference in the Latvian capital on Thursday. “The people here have shown a remarkable determination to overcome their difficulties and meet the criteria for adopting the euro,” Draghi said. At the same time, Draghi called on the Latvian government to continue its “reform policy”.

The austerity measures introduced following the 2008 economic crisis were used very deliberately to advance the country’s entry into the eurozone. The accession treaty contains a clause specifying that the euro can be introduced as soon as Latvia fulfills its so-called convergence criteria.

Latvia is due to switch to the euro next year, although the majority of the population are against it. According to a survey by the SKDS market research company, only 22 percent of Latvia’s population support the introduction of the European common currency. About 53 percent oppose it. Accession to the eurozone will invariably deepen the crisis in Latvia and lead to a rapid increase in prices, such as took place in neighboring Estonia after it introduced the euro in 2011.

At the end of November, Latvian head of government Valdis Dombrovskis resigned. According to government sources, he thereby assumed political responsibility for the collapse of a supermarket in the capital Riga on November 21, which cost 50 people their lives: here.

JOHN FOSTER recommends a book showing how the EU programme of cuts in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are anything but an example to be followed elsewhere: here.

USA: Contractor charged with murder after Philadelphia building collapse: here.

Bahrain dictatorship’s European friends

This video from the USA is called CNN – Bahrain security forces torture doctors, medics and patients.

Recently, the European parliament condemned the dictatorship in Bahrain.

The dictatorship did not like that.

A mouthpiece of the absolute monarchy, Gulf Daily News, reacted by saying that some European Union bigwigs did not agree with that resolution.

The paper of the ruling dynasty named as a defender of the torturing dictatorship Inese Vaidere, Christian Democrat from Latvia. How Christian, how democratic, is it to defend human rights violating rulers?

Possibly, Gulf Daily News is twisting Ms Vaidere’s words. Like the Bahraini regime earlier twisted the words of the British Cameron government, one of their weapons suppliers; who, however, sometimes have extremely mild criticism which still is too much for the Bahrain monarchy.

The regime’s paper also praises “EU representative Anna Carin Krostade” for defending the Bahraini monarchy. I have been unable to google this person outside of Gulf Daily News pages. Does she really exist?

Or did Gulf Daily News misspell her name, making it impossible to find on search engines?

The third European Union “star” named by the regime daily as regime apologist is Charles Tannock. He is a member of the European parliament for the British Conservative party.

I hope that all three people named by Gulf Daily News will soon either confirm or deny that they are in fact, as the dictatorship’s paper claims, dictatorship apologists.

Barroso wants European austerity empire

This satiric video from the USA says about itself:

An animated editorial cartoon by Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Fiore.

Why are so many central bankers, politicians and pundits admiring austerity wonderfulness? Because of . . . Great Latvia Success Story! You can be this too!

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

EU president launches big power grab

Wednesday 12 September 2012

by Richard Bagley

European Union chief Jose Manuel Barroso launched a campaign today to grab sweeping new powers for the bloc under the pretext of solving the EU economic crisis.

The European Commission president, who heads the EU’s powerful yet unelected 27-commissioner policy-making and enforcement body, used his annual state of the union address to its weak parliament to tell countries that they should get used to giving up power to Brussels.

Faced with global powers such as the United States and China, he claimed, “even the biggest European countries run the risk of irrelevance.”

But his big business-friendly remedies included massive privatisation of the public sector and “flexible” labour markets and a new era of empire in the form of a military force and trade deals with poorer countries outside the bloc to allow European firms to take over local markets.

Barroso said: “At the national level it means undertaking structural reforms that have been postponed for decades. Modernising public administration. Reducing wasteful expenditure.

Reforming the labour market to balance security with flexibility.”

He called on the bloc to enforce the Compact for Growth and Jobs adopted in June that put so-called “liberalisation of markets” – code for privatisation and a bonfire of labour protections – and “modernising” public administrations at its heart.

“This is the goldmine that is yet to be fully explored,” Barroso told MEPs.

He confirmed that the commission was tabling proposals to grant the bloc sweeping new powers over the internal banking systems of member states.

And, complaining that countries had not “equipped” the EU with the “instruments needed to cope with the new reality,” he said: “The present European Union must evolve.

“Let’s not be afraid of the words – we will need to move towards a federation of nation states” that “will ultimately require a new treaty.”

He added that one key goal must be “a Europe that is capable of deploying military missions to help stabilise the situation in crisis areas” around the world.

– Germany’s constitutional court gave the green light today to its contribution to the £400 billion European Stability Mechanism.

The ruling removes the final barrier for the central pot of taxpayers’ cash for EU countries that are struggling to borrow money from financiers and are willing to make the cuts requested by the bloc’s architects.

A fresh wave of strikes began in Greece today as European Union hatchet men continued talks with their local political allies on how to squeeze billions from cuts: here.

The International Monetary Fund has demanded the Irish government lay out detailed plans on how it will slash spending over the next four years: here.

Britain: Bankers’ £37bn bonus payout sparks anger: here.

Latvian nazi attack on Jewish graves

The Jewish Cemetery of Vishki, Latvia. May 2008 from Christine Usdin on Vimeo.

From Ynetnews in Israel today:

Latvia: Swastikas drawn on graves in Jewish cemetery

The Jewish cemetery in Riga, Latvia has been desecrated, with swastikas drawn on 100 gravestones. The local police launched an investigation.

The cemetery was defiled in the past, about seven years ago. Five youths convicted of the act were sentenced to prison terms raging from six months to three years.

Apparently, Latvian nazis, now that an SS veteran and neo-fascist chairs a Latvian parliamentary committee, think it is safe to commit crimes again.

From BSR Russia:

Russia supports European Union’s condemnation of Holocaust

Written by Sayan Guha on Sunday, 05 December 2010 08:18

Moscow has shown solidarity with the European Union’s rebuff to the recent news article that appeared in Lithuanian press.

In a recent newsbyte the publication had termed the Holocaust as ‘legend’ and the Nuremberg war crime trials as ‘farcical’. Moscow has openly condemned such statements and expressed serious reservations about the news of former SS members conducting annual marches in some countries.

Clearing its position on such sensitive issues, Russia congratulated the EU ambassadors in Lithuania for taking a tough stand against the article published in the Veidass weekly magazine.

“We are glad to hear that finally our partners have responded to mass media publications in Lithuania and other Baltic countries that have whitewashed Nazi criminals. Russia calls for the counteracting of unscrupulous attempts to rewrite the history of World War II and encourage pro-Nazi supporters”, according to ITAR TASS. “This encroaches upon the memory of those who died during WWII and humiliated the feelings of WWII veterans, the statement added.

“There is no doubt that the Nuremberg Tribunal is a leading political and judicial achievement of the epoch”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said on November 21, at the opening ceremony of Nuremberg Trials Museum. Lithuania, apparently don’t agree with Russia’s viewpoint.

“There is no other explanation for annual marches of former SS members in a number of European capital cities, prosecution of anti-fascist veterans or recognition of the swastika by a court as part of the cultural heritage of the Balts, Lavrov concluded.

Professor Dovid Katz of the World Without Nazism Movement thinks that Holocaust denial in the Baltic States is politically motivated.

“It’s a sort of by-product of a much wider problem that I call ‘Holocaust obfuscation’ – the movement in the Baltic states that does not deny the Holocaust, but tries to write it out of history, minimize it, trivialize it, relativize it,” said Katz.

“Its intellectuals, politicians, academics, media people, who are ultranationalists, don’t want any stain on their history. And are confusing it with current political issues, trying to use Holocaust issues in East-West relations as a stick against today’s Russia”, he added.

Efraim Zuroff, Head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California thinks that the EU has to stand up against distortion of History.

“I think that this is an outgrowth of an atmosphere in Lithuania in which the narrative of the history of the WWII is being consistently distorted. I think it’s high time that the countries of Europe, the countries of the world, of the civilized world make clear to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and these other post-communist countries that the attempt to distort the history of the Holocaust will not be tolerated, the attempt to equate communist and Nazi crimes will not be tolerated.”

“You cannot say and you can’t minimize the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over Nazi Germany and you can’t try and claim that the people that liberated Auschwitz were just as responsible for its establishment and the mass murder that went on there”, he said.

The news of placards and flags with Nazi symbolism appearing in the streets of the capital of Lithuania (Vilnius) surfaced at the end of April. Lithuanian nationalists conducted the provocative action to mark Hitler’s birthday. Flags with Nazi swastika were found on April 20 on Tauro mountain in Vilnius: here.

Vandals in Poland destroy six Jewish gravestones: here.

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Dutch amphibians saved from traffic

This is a video from Latvia about the natterjack toad mating season.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

More toads helped to cross

Thursday, September 9, 2010, 09:07

Volunteer pro-toad groups this spring helped nearly 300,000 amphibians to cross busy roads. That was 50,000 more than last year. This number of animals together would be a queue of twenty kilometers.

Every year in spring, the animals flock to water to mate and lay eggs.

European toads were helped most, followed by common frogs and smooth newts. But volunteers also helped increasing numbers of rare amphibians, such as the natterjack toad, great crested newt and the moor frog [see also here].

Dutch toad migration, spring 2012: here.

A video about smooth newts in Nijmegen city in the Netherlands is here.

Dutch amphibians: here.

Dutch amphibians autumn migration: here.

Saving Dutch amphibians from gullies: here.

With its distinctive markings and a mating call that can be heard up to 2km away, the natterjack toad is one of Britain’s most striking amphibians. It is also one of the rarest, with less than 50 breeding populations in mainland Britain. Britain’s prolonged dry weather threatens to make it rarer still and Natural England is stepping in to take early action to help the natterjack make it through the drought: here.

Common frog colours: here.

Charity to build ponds for toads: here.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 12, 2012) — Midwife toads and palmate newts are run over and their habitats are fragmented by roads in the Trubia valley (Asturias). According to a Spanish study, alleviating traffic is not enough to minimise the impact on midwife toad populations: here.

A new study rates the effectiveness of highway underpasses for wildlife, and found that a notable number of creatures were saved – and that fewer vehicles were damaged: here.

Kenya: a new highway “safety” underpass for elephants reunites a herd: here.

A new study rates the effectiveness of highway underpasses for wildlife. Researchers found that the cost of building these underpasses in the highway proved to be a savings of property and life: here.

Latvian center-left wins elections

This video shows veterans of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS demonstrating in Riga, Latvia.

Hopefully, after today’s elections, these parades of nazi criminals will belong to the past, just as the Danish xenophobes also lost at the recent elections.

After Denmark, today Latvia …

By Tom Mellen:

Centre-left alliance advances in Latvia

Sunday 18 September 2011

A centre-left alliance which campaigned for renegotiating a 2008 EU loan-for-austerity deal won the most votes in Latvia’s parliamentary elections over the weekend.

Harmony Centre (HC) had won 29.2 per cent of the vote with 95 per cent of the ballots counted on Sunday.

A key demand of the alliance, which unites left-wing socialists and social democrats, is the revision of a €7.5 billion (£6.5bn) loan that former president Valdis Zatlers accepted from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in December 2008.

One in five voters picked Mr Zatlers’s right-wing Reform Party while Unity, the senior coalition partner, came third with 18.2 per cent – a sharp drop from the 31.2 per cent it got last year.

The far-right National Alliance secured 13.78 per cent and the populist Union of Greens and Farmers took 12.12 per cent.

The Reform and Unity parties have launched coalition talks in a bid to freeze out HC.

But HC MP Andrejs Klementjevs insisted that the alliance will work to play a key role in any government.

Attempts to marginalise it were “disrespectful towards our voters because a third of Latvian citizens supported and voted for us,” he said.

HC is widely seen as “pro-Russian” because it gets a lot of its support from the country’s 2.2 million native Russian speakers.

But it has broadened its base by calling for the renegotiation of the hated EU-IMF “rescue package” that aimed to maintain Latvia’s fixed exchange rate with the euro.

After accepting the loan, then president Mr Zatlers cut public-sector wages and pensions and increased VAT.

The country’s economy shrank by over a quarter between 2008 and 2010, while unemployment has surged.

US ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber sent a cable to the US State Department in December 2009 warning that “any HC participation in a future cabinet would present us with challenges.”

In the cable, which was released by Wikileaks earlier this month, Ms Garber said that she was “preparing for the real possibility that a Moscow-oriented party may find itself sharing in the governance of a Nato ally.”

See also here.

About 50,000 trade unionists from around Europe marched through the Polish town of Wroclaw on Saturday to press European finance ministers to ditch neoliberal dogma in favour of economic policies that foster growth and social justice: here.

State schoolteachers kicked off a two-day strike and rallied in Madrid today to press the regional government not to sacrifice quality comprehensive education on the altar of austerity: here.

Latvian SS nazi chairs parliamentary committee

Latvian nazis commemorate Adolf Hitler and Latvian SS men. Former veterans of the Latvian Legion protest in Riga (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Getty Images)As far as I have been able to find out, media in English speaking countries so far have not reported on an ex-member of the Latvian legion of Adolf Hitler’s SS becoming chairman of the Latvian parliamentary committee on “ethnic minority” affairs. German language and, obviously, Latvian language media did report on this issue. See also here.

This is my translation from the German report by Markus Salzmann:

Latvian government appoints SS veteran as committee chairman

17 November 2010

Latvia’s government on 8 November chose a former member of the Waffen-SS as chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for dealing with the Russian minority in the Baltic state.

The 86-year-old deputy Visvaldis Lacis will lead the parliamentary committee responsible for the implementation of the citizenship laws. Lacis is a member of the neo-fascist party “All for Latvia”, which in the elections of 2 October entered parliament. It calls for a ban on the Russian language in schools and the deportation of ethnic Russians who make up about one-quarter of the inhabitants of the country.

Lacis, who fought in the Second World War as a member of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS against the Soviet Union, has published numerous articles and books which glorify Hitler’s Germany, the Waffen-SS and the war against the Soviet Union. He is revered by the Latvian neo-fascists and maintains close contact with Rightist hoodlum groups, which are notorious for provocations and violence against minorities. With them he celebrates every year the invasion of German troops in 1941.

Since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union virtually all Latvian governments have contributed to the mobilization of extreme right, anti-communist forces. Lacis also has been decorated for his services in the fight against the Soviet Union with medals. With his appointment as committee chairman, the partnership with the neo-fascists has reached a new quality.

The 39-year-old Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis even for a long time has been pushing to include the neo-fascists in his new government, but eventually he failed because of resistance in his own right-wing coalition “Unity”.

After the elections in early October about four weeks of long discussions and negotiations on the composition of the new government took place. Although the previous government parties “Unity” and “Union of Greens and Farmers” had 55 of the 100 parliamentary seats and quickly agreed to continue their coalition under Prime Minister Dombrovskis, a long debate over whether the government should include even ultra-right forces started.

In the end it was agreed that the ultra-right would not be officially included in the government, but the eight members of “All for Latvia” and “Fatherland and Freedom” still voted for Dombrovskis and confirmed him in office.

Even so, the government is interspersed with ultra-right figures.

Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis, Chairman of Dombrovskis’ “Unity”, on Tuesday just survived a no-confidence vote, following revelations that he had expressed in an e-mail exchange with a Latvian doctor living in the U.S., the same racist views as “All for Latvia “. His most ardent defender in the parliamentary debate on the confidence vote was former SS-man Lacis.

The use of neo-fascists and of stirring up ethnic tensions against the Russian minority are directly related to the economic difficulties of Latvia and the social attacks on the working class. Latvia has been damaged as badly as any other EU country by the international economic crisis. In 2009, the economy declined by 18 percent and, according to the Latvian Ministry of Finance, GDP will shrink again this year by at least three percent.

After about half of the hospitals in the country have been closed, there is already no longer sufficient capacity to care for patients. In the remaining hospitals there is a lack of medication. So many doctors and nurses have been sacked that even some necessary operations cannot be performed.

Public employees’ wages have been reduced by up to 60 percent. Even senior executives need a second job to make ends meet. In many cases the fear was expressed that a harsh winter would lead to many people dying because of the cold, because people can not pay the heating bills.

Dombrovskis and his government, despite the social consequences, are determined to make their cutback policies even harsher.

The involvement of extreme right forces in the government is used to suppress any opposition to the brutal austerity measures and social impoverishment of broad layers.

Update: a complete English translation is here.

With Latvian flags, people march in a procession to the Freedom Monument to honor soldiers who fought in a Waffen SS unit during World War II, in Riga, Latvia, Tuesday, March 16, 2012. Hundreds of Latvians have gathered in the capital Riga to pay tribute to soldiers who fought on the side of Nazi Germany in Waffen SS detachments during World War II. – See more here.

The march in Latvia is currently the only public event in Europe and beyond honoring those who fought under the banner of SS, Nazi Germany’s elite security force: here.

The government of Finland has announced the commissioning of an investigation into the actions of Finnish volunteers with Nazi Germany’s Waffen SS, following newly unearthed evidence that these fighters may have been involved in atrocities against Jews and other civilians on the Eastern Front during the Second World War: here.

Germany: The Bluff of the Brown Shirts: How Waffen SS Veterans Exploited Postwar Politics: here.

Suspected Nazi death camp guard Samuel Kunz dies before trial: here.