07:08 GMT12 July 2020
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    The Latvian Security Police said on Friday it would investigate a complaint leveled at the capital city’s mayor for publishing a caricature targeting the chair of the committee tasked with calculating damages from so-called Soviet occupation.

    RIGA (Sputnik) – Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs claimed this week that the subject of a cartoon he posted on social media, committee chair Ruta Pazdere, threatened him with a 5-year prison sentence. The cartoon depicted a female cyclist falling over after lodging a stick in the spokes of her own bicycle and demanding 185 billion euros ($209 billion) from Russia, the amount her commission found it was owed in reparations during the Soviet period on April 18.

    "The received application will be evaluated," Security Police spokeswoman Liga Petersone said as quoted by the leading Latvian press.

    Two Latvian lawmakers, one of them a member of the European Parliament, requested the Latvian Prosecutor’s Office and the Security Police to investigate Usakovs’ cartoon following its publication last week. The society for the study of the occupation of Latvia has also turned to the prosecutor’s office to investigate whether the mayor’s caricature violated the section of the criminal code that bans the justification of genocide and crimes against humanity.

    Russia, the Soviet Union’s successor state, disputes the Baltic republics’ classification of the Soviet period as "occupation," and maintains that their inclusion in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) adhered to international norms of the time.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry argues that the term "occupation" does not apply because there were no military actions taken between the USSR and the Baltic states, while troops were deployed based on mutual agreements and with the explicit consent of the respective national leadership. Moscow maintains that national authorities continued to function in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia during this period, with the exception of the German occupation during World War II.

    Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian justice ministers signed a memorandum of understanding in November to coordinate actions in seeking reparations from Russia for damages sustained during the Soviet period.

    The state-funded commission, whose damage assessment from "Soviet occupation" was later revised to 300 billion euros, was formed by the Latvian government in 2005.

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