Veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS and their supporters marched in the Latvian capital Riga to honor Latvian Division of the Waffen SS.
This year, the Riga City Council’s first Russian mayor, Nil Ushakov [Nils Ušakovs], banned public gatherings on Legionnaires' Day, in order to "prevent riots". However, the council has allowed the demonstration this year, ruling that such gatherings pose no threat to public safety. Aleksey Yaroshevsky, who is currently in Latvia, reported that Latvian SS veterans gathered at the freedom monument in Riga.
At the same time, a small group of mainly Russians and Jews protested behind barricades about 15 meters away. They blared Soviet songs to disperse the crowd. Some chanted “Nazism won’t pass!”. A large number of police units have been deployed to keep the two sides apart.
Three deputies of the Latvian Seim (parliament) – who are also members of a patriotic Latvian political party – Raivis Dzintars, Imants Parādnieks and Jānis Dombrava, managed to break through the police cordon and damage one of the installations. They tore apart fake pictures of concentration camp victims. Jānis Dombrava sustained minor injuries in a scuffle which police managed to stop. At least five people were arrested at the Saturday procession, police said.
From 1998 to 2000, March 16 has been an official remembrance day in the country to pay tribute to the Latvian Legion. The Legion was created in 1943 on orders from Adolf Hitler. In March of the same year, the Legion was already battling the Soviet Red Army near the town of Pskov. In total, about 150,000 soldiers served in its ranks.