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I would not go as far as describe Latvia as democratic state. For one, it does not have universal suffrage. 30% of population does not have a right to vote and is generally politically and economically supressed.

Also so far there were no equal expression of the opposing views. Views contrary to official one are repressed. One of the recent examples is that Latvian authorities tried to open criminal investigation into activities of the authors of "Nazism in Baltic"  documentary and Latvian Foreign Ministry even asked for the film not to be shown in Russia.

Although, things may be changing:

Latvian mass-media: for the first time, legionaries' supporters found themselves to be alone

On March 17, Latvian mass-media cover broadly events, happened on the eve, when state police and Special Forces neutralized attempts of Latvian Waffen SS supporters illegally to march through Riga downtown. In particular, Riga Chas newspaper mentions, that many things happened for the first time in the latest history of Latvia on that day.

"Yesterday has become historical day in spite of its whole ambiguity. Because many things happened for the first time,' writes the newspaper. `Latvian authorities pioneered to show hard will not to suffer international disgrace. Though, under pressure from the West, but traditional SS legionaries' march was not allowed. And an attempt to do it illegally was severely suppressed. For the first time legionaries' supporters found themselves to be alone. No politician dared to say even one word to support them. The authorities, they used to consider their own ones, pioneered to strive against them. For the first time, March of national-radicals was blocked not by small group of anti-Nazis, avoiding policemen, but by the authorities. The police pioneered to break up not Russian schoolchildren and `stripy persons', but Latvian radicals. For the first time, authorities received Latvian opposition in addition to usual Russian speaking one. Time will show, in what rate fall ruling parties will pay for their yesterday's inexorability. After all, 15 years long authorities were teaching voters to be proud of Latvian SS Legion. Now, they have to explain very long, why people must not to be proud. For the first time, some Latvian citizens realized, that we are in Europe, and that guideline of Brussels and Washington may not be ignored, as earlier Moscow's one. For the first time, in streets it was said in Latvian, that `it was better under Russians.' For many people yesterday became a severe lesson. There is a big contribution for it of last year's `stripy persons,' who demonstrated the whole world matter of historical conflict in country..."

by blackhawk on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 07:20:44 PM EST
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