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    FORMER SS-MEN TAKE PART IN FESTIVITIES ON OCCASION OF LATVIA'S ACCESSION TO NATO

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    RIGA, April 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Former Waffen- SS legionaries took part in the festivities held in Riga on Friday on the occasion of Latvia's accession to NATO.

    During the festivities Latvian top executives laid flowers to Freedom Monument in the center of the city.

    Taking part in the ceremony, along with Latvian president Vaira-Vike Freiberga, Saeima speaker Ingrida Udre, premier Indulis Emsis, Saeima deputies from right parties and government members, as well as the commanders of the national armed forces, were former Waffen-SS legionaries - members of the Society of National Soldiers.

    Among those laying flowers, there were no representatives of opposition Left-center parties. The members of the political association "For Human Rights in United Latvia" "do not consider that accession to NATO is a holiday for Latvia," Yuri Sokolovsky, Saeima deputy from this association, told the Russian-language newspaper Vesti Segodnya.

    In his opinion, "making a national holiday of the fact of the country's accession to the North-Atlantic alliance is stupid, to say the least of it." Meanwhile, the festivities on the occasion of Latvia's joining NATO are not arousing interest among residents. In Riga only several casual passers-by observed the ceremony of laying flowers to Freedom Monument.

    A ceremony of hoisting the NATO flag in front of the Riga Castle - the residence of the Latvian president and in front of the building of the Latvian defense ministry will also take place on Friday. Then a solemn meeting of the Saeima will be held.

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