The monument to fallen Soviet sailors in the northern Latvian town of Limbazi, located about 100 kilometers from Riga, was demolished by activists from neo-Nazi group Daugavas Vanagi (the Daugava Hawks), which calls itself an organization of the former Nazi Waffen SS Legion veterans.
The demolition was also supported by the National Alliance, which is a part of the ruling coalition in the Latvian parliament.
The party even posted a video of the demolition on its Facebook page with a march playing in the background.
The National Alliance also said in the description to the video that the activists demolished a monument to the troops, who “killed some locals and then died themselves,” although the monument was built 1975 in commemoration of the Soviet sailors, who died there in 1941, defending the area from the Nazi invasion.
The party then posted a number of photos demonstrating the process of demolition and said that it took place on August 27.
The National Alliance is the fourth largest party in Latvia comprised of the nationalist For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK and far-right All for Latvia! party. It was founded in 2010 as a political alliance and became a unitary party in 2013.
The Daugava Hawks is a far right group that particularly took active part in the organization of the march of the Latvian veterans of Waffen-SS units on the so-called Legion Day on March 18, an unofficial holiday honoring Nazi collaborators during WWII.
Meanwhile, local authorities justified the demolition by saying that the monument was in advanced state of disrepair and posed a threat to the children attending a local school, as reported by Latvia’s Leta news agency. They also said that € 8,000 ($ 8,911) had been spent on the demolition from the local budget. The authorities added that it was not included on a list of Soviet-era monuments.
Russia condemned the demolition of the monument and said that it violates a bilateral agreement between the two countries.
“We regard the demolition of a monument to the Soviet sailors unacceptable and contradictory to the bilateral intergovernmental agreement… that obliges the Latvian side to provide care, maintenance and security for the memorials,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a news briefing on Wednesday.
She also stressed that Russia expects a“swift reaction” to this “blatant incident” from Riga, adding that the Russian Foreign Ministry had not received any response from the Latvian government yet.
The Russian embassy in Latvia denounced the move and filed a note of protest with the Latvian Foreign Ministry over the incident.
Soviet Era WWII monuments are often targeted in Baltic States and some Central European countries.
In 2015, authorities in a Polish town demolished a monument to a fallen Russian WWII general. In April 2016, Russia’s Public Chamber even addressed UNESCO and OSCE asking them to help protect Soviet-era WWII memorials from destruction.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at that time that the planned campaign “was bordering barbarism,” and was launched “with the intention of erasing from the Polish people’s memory the fact that the Red Army saved them from total annihilation by the Nazis.”
Western media also sometimes attack the Soviet WWII monuments. In September 2015, BBC Russian provoked a wave of indignation in social media by dubbing the Soviet war memorial in Treptower Park, Berlin, Germany, the “memorial to the unknown rapist.”
Sixty-one senators voted for the impeachment, with only 20 standing by the president, who was suspended in May for manipulating data to conceal the scale of economic problems that have piled up since she assumed power five years ago.
But 68-year-old Rousseff was handed a lifeline after the Senate voted not to bar her from holding government office for the next eight years. According to the constitution, an impeached president faces this ban by default, but Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, presiding over the hearing, allowed a separate vote on the matter. Forty-two senators voted in favor of Rousseff, and 36 against, with three abstentions.
Conservative Vice-President Michel Temer, who has deputized for socialist Rousseff since her de facto ouster three months ago, was sworn in as president later on Wednesday, and will serve out the remaining two years of her term.
True to form, in her last speech Rousseff was defiant in the face of accusations, and made a futile call on the senators to “vote for democracy,” accusing her political opponents of staging a “coup.”
“Today’s legal farce removes me from the position I was elected to by the people,” Rousseff said in her personal blog after the impeachment. “The will of 61 senators has replaced that of 54,5 million people who voted for me.”
Rousseff’s lawyer immediately said she would appeal the impeachment through the Supreme Court.
“Right now I will not say goodbye to you. I am certain I can say, ‘See you soon,'” Rousseff said to a gathering of her supporters in capital Brasilia after the session.
Rousseff – the country’s first female leader – is also the first Brazilian leader to be dismissed from office since 1992, when Fernando Collor de Mello resigned before a final vote in his impeachment trial for corruption.
Hard road ahead for Temer
While Rousseff’s budget-balancing tricks, which included delaying government repayments to banks to underplay the deficit, are thought to have also been used by her predecessors, the former guerrilla fighter’s popularity has cratered: Brazil suffered six consecutive quarters of negative growth and is mired in corruption scandals implicating officials close to the outgoing president.
Nonetheless, Rousseff’s ousting means a sea change for a country that was ruled by the left-wing Workers’ Party for the past 13 years. Its activists have been staging thousands-strong protests in support of the deposed politician, and are expected to resume them following the latest decision.
Meanwhile, Temer, a 75-year-old career politician, who is ironically himself barred from running for office due to electoral violations, faces an uphill task.
His financial reforms, reeling back from the lavish social spending of Rousseff’s administration, have curried favor with investors, but not the electorate, with his cabinet’s popularity ratings no higher than those of his predecessor.
American economic adviser David Riedel said that the country now had no chance but to embrace economic reforms, in the wake of a fall of commodity prices that led to the rise Rousseff, and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula.
“International investors will give Brazil the benefit of the doubt. So if they become more business-friendly, and investor friendly, and cut back on the profligate spending, which is an issue across South America, investors will give Brazil a second look,” he told RT.
Temer will also shoulder the difficult task of restoring Brazil’s credibility abroad, which has suffered in recent months, after years when the country was seen as the shining light of the continent’s economy. Temer is due to travel to China to participate in the upcoming G20 meeting in Hangzhou.
Sympathizers at home and abroad express fury
Meanwhile the government of longtime Rousseff ally Venezuela has already said that it is freezing relations with Brazil and recalling its ambassador following the impeachment. Ecuador and Bolivia have also called back its top diplomats in Brasilia.
Several experts interviewed by RT condemned proceedings, and claimed that Wednesday’s decision would give rise to a new cycle of active unrest.
“This was not a real trial for Rousseff. Most of the senators had made up their minds before, and there was no legal reason for the prosecution” said Maria Mendonca, from the University of Rio de Janeiro.
“She is going to lead the process of what this government will do – so expect something pretty Earth-shaking,” Francisco Domninguez from the University of Middlesex. “Already there are protests on the streets. The Landless Workers Movement, the large trade unions will all come together, and this will be – in their eyes – a class struggle.”
by James Thompson
Andy Borowitz of www.newyorker.com reported that Pres. Obama of the United States paid $5 billion to Mexico on the condition that they keep Donald Trump in Mexico and not allow him to return to the United States. Pres. Nieto reportedly stated that he would provide a path to citizenship for Mr. Trump if he becomes a productive citizen.
Breaking news has it that Pres. Nieto reversed himself and said that it is impossible for Mr. Trump to become a productive citizen anywhere in the world. Word has it that Pres. Nieto promptly returned the $5 billion and immediately made a counter proposal.
Pres. Nieto proposed to Pres. Obama that Mexico would foot the bill for a wall across the southern border of the United States and would make it twice as tall as Mr. Trump has suggested. In addition, Pres. Nieto would pay the United States $5 billion in cash if Pres. Obama can guarantee that neither Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton will ever be allowed to come to Mexico again.
Word has it that Pres. Obama is considering Pres. Nieto’s proposal because the US government needs the cash, but is leaning against it because the cost to the United States would be too great. Apparently, Pres. Obama quipped “This would not be a bargain for the United States.”
Some are saying that Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada wants to get in on the action. It seems he has made a proposal to build a wall across the northern border of the United States and will pay the $5 billion to keep Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton out of Canada.
Both Pres. Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau apparently received a dramatic boost in their popularity ratings in their respective countries. Reports are that both are enjoying a 90% approval rating among their respective constituents.
Pres. Obama is reportedly waiting to see what other nations will offer.