Demonisation of celebration of the proclamation of Latvian Independence
On 16 October the daily newspaper of Russia “Izvestija” published an article “Latvia marches in the past”. Neo-Nazi group of Latvia is preparing for the largest torch parade ever in Latvia.” The article states that the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) actively object to such a torch parade, comparing it with the practice of Hitler’s Germany and indicating that such campaigns once again stir up Nazi sentiments in Europe. At the same time Sputnik informs people of how “the torch parades are perceived as a government-supported expression of Nazism by a range of European politicians.” The torch parade was, for example, criticised by the Pro-Kremlin European Deputy Jiří Maštálka, whose managed group of MEPs had previously unsuccessfully tried to get sanctions imposed against the Baltic states for the alleged distribution of Neo-Nazi sentiments. The Russian TV channel REN TV also talks about a torch parade by including more radical accents - it states that the Neo-Nazis of Latvia are preparing a parade, linking its meaning to the Independence Day celebration. The REN TV story emphasises that the representatives of the European Parliament are strictly against such campaigns, thus creating a misleading impression that the torch parade has been condemned by all MEPs rather than by a marginal group of individual deputies.
The Latvian Russian-language portal Vesti.lv has published an article “In November Latvians are walking with torches because it is cold and damp”, thus not only speaking ironically regarding the justification of the torch parade, but also emphasising the alleged ethnic character of this campaign. In another publication of Vesti.lv, the aforementioned information is supplemented by the statement of Aleksandr Gaponenko  that “all of these “grand parades” seem to be very scary - tens of thousands of people with torches in their hands are screaming: “Latvia for Latvians!””. In reality the slogan “Latvia for Latvians!” was popular in the 30ties among the members of the prohibited right-wing radical (fascist) organisation “Pērkoņkrusts” (“Thunder Cross”). This slogan is not used nowadays. The Russian Communist Party was also involved in a campaign against the torch tradition of the Latvian Independence Day celebration which described all participants of the torch parade as Nazis and Neo-Nazis  on its website. Such replacement of the idea for the parade of 18 November with a radical and incorrect message shows an attempt to note the celebration of the Latvia Independence Day as an expression of Neo-Nazism. In order to strengthen such emotional ties, the aforementioned articles are supplemented with information which has no relation to the historical significance of 18 November 1918 or 11 November 1919 - regarding the Latvian Legion, anti-Soviet partisans or Nazi ideology.
Linking the torch parade with the restoration of Nazi Germany traditions is a highly speculative assumption based on very narrow impressions, since the tradition of the torch parades is not only older but also much broader. Torch parades are organised for the celebration of Christmas in Italy and the Scandinavian New Year. This tradition was also very popular in pre-war Latvia, where it became a symbol for the anniversary celebration of national holidays, city liberation or foundation of military units. The Latvian press extensively and colourfully described the torch parades which were organised in Europe in the honour of Rabindranath Tagore, which facilitated the spread of this tradition in the pre-war Latvia (1920s–1930s). The first large-scale torch parade for the celebration of the anniversary of the declaration of Latvian independence was organised in 1923 when a torch parade to the Latvian National Theatre, where the proclamation of the country had taken place, was organised by the Firefighter organisations and the National Club.
Torch parades were also extensively organised in the Soviet Union both before , and after  World War II. During the Soviet occupation in Latvia, the torch parades made a significant part of the youth, pupils’ and students’ manifestations. Already in November of 1940, by celebrating the anniversary of October Revolution, among other public manifestations the Komsomol also organised torch parades. The torch parades were organised in honour of elections,  Stalin’s 70th birthday, or in commemorative events at Soviet heroes’ grave sites.  Torch parades were organised both in the Soviet students’ Song Festival in Tartu, and in the students’ favourite Aristotle celebration  and in general it could be stated that they were a significant part of the pioneers’  and young Communists’  public events. On 15 November 1988, the torch parade, organised in honour of International Students’ Day on 17 November, already marked a significant turn - the torch parade with the Latvian red-white-red flags to the Monument of Freedom presented not only the belonging of the students to the international students’ family, but also to the ideas of national awakening.
The torch parade has existed as part of the celebration of the anniversary of the proclamation of independence, since 2003, while as an element of national holiday celebration after the regaining of independence, the torch parade is a much older tradition - on 11 November 1990 the streets of Riga were already filled with the torch parade dedicated to Lacplesis Day.  This was the first large torch parade after the regaining of independence, carrying the symbolism of an eternal flame, and at the same time restoring the pre-war traditions of the celebration of Lacplesis Day and State Proclamation.
Falsification of the history of proclamation and loss of Latvian Independence
Along with turning against the torch parade, in October the Russian-language media also spread false narratives regarding the declaration of Latvia’s independence. In the article of 29 October, the newspaper Segodnja published the opinions of several Russian officials regarding the circumstances of gaining national independence. For example, Alexander Ganin, the First Deputy Director of RSCC of St. Petersburg stated that “Latvia, Estonia and Finland appeared due to the will of Russia; more precisely, due to the will of those forces holding power within it”. Natalia Eremina, Associate Professor at Saint-Petersburg State University also stated that “The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) recognised the independent countries based on their self-determination rights”.
In reality, neither the plans of Soviet Russia, nor the Russian White Guard included the formation of independent national countries, including Latvia on the ruins of the Russian empire. Soviet (Bolshevik) Russia was only forced to recognise the right of these countries to exist after their victory over the Soviet army in the bloody independence wars. To a large extent it was also determined by the course of the so-called Soviet-Polish war. Waiver of rights to the territory of the Baltic states allowed Soviet Russia to gather energy for battles in other simultaneous conflicts. And Soviet Russia did not recognise the self-determination rights of the nations; in its opinion people were divided into classes and not nations. Recognition of the Latvian state by Soviet Russia was a result of a war of independence of many years, where the temporary government of Latvia beat both Soviet Russia, and the Pavel Bermont’s White Guard army.
The publication Segodnja also offers an opinion of Vladimir Simindej, the Director of the pro-Kremlin Historical Memory Fund that “the legal start was only gained by the new republics in 1920-1921, and the documents forming their basis were adopted in a great hurry and were copies of European templates”. In fact, the documents forming the legal basis of the Latvian State, declaration of independence, platforms of political party roof organisations, temporary legislators and governments were adopted in 1917 and 1918. A constitution completing and not starting the process of formation of the State’s legal basis was developed later as a result of many years of long work by the Constituent Assembly. Semindejs also notes that “under the flags of the newly born Republic of Latvia the German Landeswehr fought against the Red Latvian Riflemen in the hope of acquiring land. Mercenaries were betrayed”. Landeswehr was the self-protection forces of militia type created on the territory of Latvia, containing the military formations of the largest nationalities living in Latvia - the Baltic Germans, Latvians and Russians. Landeswehr was the military forces of the temporary government of Latvia during the period between November 1918 when the invasion of the Red Army in Latvia started and April 1919 when division among the members of the Landeswehr took place by a part of the Baltic German units carrying out overturning of the temporary government of Latvia. The rights of the citizen of Latvia and not the land was promised for the service on behalf of the government of Latvia.
Glorification of the “liberation of Riga”
In October, several Russian-speaking media outlets attracted attention to the anniversary of the liberation of Riga taking place on 13 October. The newspaper Segodnja and the portal Vesti.lv published an article where it was stated in an exaggerated way that the liberation of Riga was celebrated on a grand scale this year even though a small number of people participated in it - from tens to a hundred. These articles also stated that “the victory of Riga was carried on its shoulders by the 130th Corps of the Latvian Riflemen” and that “the operation was unprecedented in its bravery and heroism. Fascists simply missed the Soviet Army pushing over the lake of Kisezers” and that the operation “was definitely one of the [Red Army’s] most successful operations and most effective episodes in the battles of 1944”.
Historians nowadays consider the attack of the Red Army on Riga as militarily unsuccessful, while the conquering of Riga was ensured by the strategic retreat of the German troops from Riga during the period between 5 and 13 October. When the Soviet troops reached Riga, the enemy had already left it, except for a few covering units in Pardaugava. In order to interfere with actions, German sappers systematically bombed the most important communication devices, port, power plant, embankments - sites that could be used for military purposes . Thus, as recognised by the historian Valdis Kuzmins, battles between the Red Army and the German forces did not actually take place during the Riga operation. Speaking regarding the role of the 130th Corps of the Latvian Riflemen in the “liberation of Riga”, Igors Briezkalns (Igors Briežkalns), officer of the 308th Latvian Riflemen Division, could be quoted: “Riflemen were ready to enthusiastically attack in the direction of Riga. However, on 12 October, the 130th Corps of the Latvian Riflemen, while being just a few kilometres from Kekava, were unexpectedly turned in the direction of Olaine [rather than to Riga].”
 A member of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic, Deputy Head of the European Parliament and Russia Interparliamentary Cooperation Group.
 Aleksandr Gaponenko is regularly under surveillance of the Security Police. On 23 October 2017 the court started the adjudication of a case against him for the incitement of national hatred.
 The statement made earlier by Aleksandr Gaponenko regarding chanting of the slogan “Latvia for Latvians” here has become a quotation by Kazbek Taisajev, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Communist Party and Deputy of the State Council Responsible for the Compatriot Policy.
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