A Latvian city court on Thursday overturned the national parliament’s ban on a controversial March 16 commemoration of Latvian troops who fought on the German side in World War II.
March 16 is Legionnaires' Day in Latvia. Though not an official public holiday, parades in honor of the 140,000 men who fought in the Latvian Legion, combat units of the Waffen-SS, are held annually in Latvia’s capital.
Last year, about 1,000 people, veterans from the Latvian Legion and their supporters, paraded a short distance through Riga.
Traditionally, the parade triggers an outcry from anti-Fascist activists and organizations.
In Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the removal of a Soviet war memorial, the Bronze Soldier, just before the May 9, 2007 Victory Day celebrations in Russia led to street protests in which over 1,000 people were arrested and one Russian national was killed.
Relations between Russia and Latvia and Estonia have also been strained over what Moscow calls the unequal treatment of ethnic Russians in the two former Soviet states, the alleged persecution of Soviet WWII veterans, and the apparent revival of nationalism and fascism.