"The November 18 march has a very clear nationalist context. And they [the organizers] are not hiding that. There is a great difference between similar torchlight processions and torchlight processions aimed at exterminating aliens. During these processions the crowd warms up by chanting 'We are Latvians!' and 'Latvia for Latvians!' These are calls to build an ethnically pure society in Latvia," head of the Latvian Non-Citizens' Congress human rights group, Alexander Gaponenko, told Sputnik, referring to the event traditionally held on Latvia's Independence Day.
This year the procession will not end at the Freedom Monument in the center of Riga, as is usually the case, over security concerns because of the president's speech at the site.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Latvia refused to recognize some of the population residing in the country as its citizens, which resulted in the emergence of a separate group of people known as non-citizens. In 2017 more than 240,000 people in Latvia have non-citizen status with the majority of them being ethnic Russians.
Besides the torchlight procession, Latvia holds an annual Waffen-SS march dedicated to the formations formed by the Nazis in occupied Latvia in 1943. Moscow has long considered the march a disgrace and has criticized the event alongside anti-fascist organizations worldwide.