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Annual Nazi Vets Parade in Riga May Escalate Into Violence - US Embassy

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The US Embassy in Riga warns American citizens to be extremely careful during the Nazi parade, as it may escalate into clashes.

People carry Latvian flags as they march in Riga, Latvia, Sunday, March 16, 2014 - Sputnik International
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RIGA (Sputnik) — The US embassy in Latvia recommended US citizens on Sunday to be careful during the annual Nazi parade in Riga on March 16, warning that the demonstrations can escalate into violence.

“Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” a statement on the embassy’s website reads.

On March 16, Riga will host the annual march of Waffen SS veterans and other supporters of Nazi Germany.

Veterans of the Latvian Legion, a unit commanded by the Nazi SS during the World War II, have staged a parade in central Riga every year since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. The date is linked to the March 16, 1944 battle between the legion and the Red Army.

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Security in the city will be tightened, and traffic in central Riga will be blocked, according to Riga’s city council.

The annual parade is opposed by Latvia's large ethnic Russian community, Jewish groups and several civic groups, that say the march essentially glorifies Nazism.

Last year, the Latvian government prohibited the country’s ministers from participating in the parade. Latvian environment minister, Einars Cilinskis, who planned to participate in the parade in 2014, was sacked.

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