OPINION | LATVIA | RIGA MARCHES | ROLAND BINET’S DECADES OF PEACEFUL AND MUSICAL PROTEST | VILNIUS MARCHES | KAUNAS MARCHES | PRO-NAZI MARCHES IN EASTERN EUROPE | GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS | ANTISEMITISM
VILNIUS—In the opinion of all in the Defending History community, modern Latvia is a free, democratic, peaceful, tolerant and delightful country that has in little over three decades successfully managed a dramatic transition to the conceptual and spiritual heart of the European Union and the NATO alliance of democratic nations. What a day-and-night contrast with the trajectory of its huge eastern neighbor Russia over these same decades: from the high hopes of the heady Yeltsin years in the 1990s to today’s dictatorial, criminal Russian Federation, led by our century’s most deranged dictator, that has been imprisoning and killing so many of its own people in addition, now, to the mass murder of thousands of innocent civilians in the course of the ongoing barbaric invasion of neighboring, peaceful and democratic Ukraine (Defending History’s statement in support of a rapid and complete Ukrainian victory).
In that context, and bearing in mind that no country on the planet (or, presumably, any other planet) is perfect and not deserving of free-speech critiques, and bearing in mind that democracy entails both the right and the obligation to speak out against injustice, it is beyond our comprehension that this year’s March 16th Waffen SS celebrations in central Riga have gone so well under the radar. Our usual correspondents in Riga, London, Washington, and further afield have all feared that if they dare speak up, they will be labelled as “Putinists.” When looking at “official” reports from Riga, one quickly sees why. First, state authorities used the lame and incapable-of-free-thinking Baltic Times, to announce fears that Russian provocateurs might protest the march (that is true of any and all activities everywhere; does that mean free expression has been successfully banned by Putin when it comes to the simple truths of the East European Holocaust?). And then, the national and equally fearful-of-open-debate Delfi.lv announced that the event has taken place without incident.