The History of the Occupation of Latvia

Fake News: “Current day Slavs do not live as guests of Latvians, they live in their historical Homeland

Fake News: “Current day Slavs do not live as guests of Latvians, they live in their historical Homeland"

Author: Viesturs Sprūde

“The Governing”, namely “Latvian ethnocrats”, are hiding the fact that the territory of Latvia has actually historically been the land of Slavs, from Russian speaking people. Russians, and “Rusichi”, are not some kind of visitors from the times of Peter the Great. “Actually”, the tribe of Vendi, which is the same Slavic tribe of “Venedi”, has lived here since ancient times.

This type of pseudo-historical reasoning has been occurring in the Russian speaking environment in both written form and amateur video films for about then years, but to date they are circulated in online discussions, various blogs and “Russian World” orientated websites.   

“We believe that everybody must stop being misled and must come to the only correct conclusion: different tribes and peoples have inhabited the current territory of Latvia since ancient times, furthermore, it is possible that the most ancient of these tribes was Venedi, namely, a Slavic tribe - Rusichi and Finno-Ugric tribe - Livs. Meanwhile Kuronians and Semigallians, obviously, came here later. (..) Therefore, current day Slavs are not guests of Latvians, but they live in their historical homeland,” a longish essay signed by Jurijs Govorovs and Ivans Pomnjaschijs (most probably alias names, since no signs of the existence of such political or historical persons are available online).

The aforementioned essay was published in the publication “Vesti” several years ago, but its content continues to appear in various profiles on “Facebook”, as well as “LiveJournal”, a blog website popular among the Russian speaking population.    

The most ardent representative of this, one could say, alternative history, is the author of several books and video films Igors Gusevs, whose speculations can be read on the website “9may.lv”, not to mention on social media. Gusevs has never hidden the fact that he wishes to view the history of Latvia from the point of view of a “Russian resident of Latvia”, and his writings reflect similar opinions. One of the central theses in this construct, as mentioned earlier, is the idea that the mysterious people of Vendi, which was only mentioned in a couple of sentences in the Livonian Chronicle of Henry describing the 13th century, saying that Kuronians had driven them away from Kurzeme, then from the vicinity of Riga, with the tribe finally settling around Cēsis, is the same as what Venedi mentioned in the works of historians of the Roman and Early Middle Ages periods (it is the ancient name for Slavs).

Since the Venedi, who inhabited large regions of Europe, including the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, are identified as an aggregate of Germanised west-Slavic peoples, and contemporary Russian chauvinist ideologists automatically associate any tribe considered to be Slavic as Russians, the chain of reasoning led to the conclusion that Russians or “Rusichi”, i.e., Venedi, lived in Kurzeme in ancient times, “Founded Riga” and Cēsis. The red-white-red flag, mentioned in “Livonian Rhymed Chronicle”, is, therefore, Russian and even Latvians themselves have arisen from Russians.

“And how can the fact that German knights were called Ventspils and Cēsis “Vendau” (actually - “Windau”- author’s remark) and Venden be explained? These are definitely places, where neither Semigallians nor Kuronians lived; these are the lands of Slavs - Vendi. And they lived there before the arrival of crusaders,” say the essays found online and derivatives thereof that are associated with the name of Gusevs.

Games with toponyms continue by claiming that “Slavic” names include everything in the territory of Latvia that starts with “Ve-” or “Vi-”. Even the names of Riga, Roja and Rūjiena are “Slavic”. This continues endlessly until the conclusion is reached that Venedi/Vendi were a Slavic tribe, who spoke in “Ancient Russian” and “planted the foundation stones of practically all large cities in Europe”.


Speculation that Latvians arose from Russians, that they neither have their own proper flag, nor land, sound in line with the aggressive statements recently voiced on Russian TV shows that “Ukraine is not a country of any kind” and that the “Ukrainian nation does not exist”. For the sake of truth, it must be mentioned that regarding Latvia these ideas have mostly been marginalised to the level of internet discussion, however, these “arguments” tend to be very viable.

Latvian historians, for instance, an archaeologist, Professor Andrejs Vasks and the Director of the Institute of History of the University of Latvia Guntis Zemītis, have previously noted that there are no documents or archaeological finds to support the claims of an “Ancient Slavic State” in the territory of Latvia. Furthermore, the identification of any Slavic tribe or people as Russian is absurd. The belonging of the Vendi tribe to the Western Slavic group of tribes is only one of the hypotheses, because the version that the River Venta gave the name to the tribe of Vendi is no less, or more credible, since they lived in the region around this river.

Archaeological excavations did not provide any evidence of links of Vendi to Slavic cultures, they are rather related to Livs of Kurzeme. This issue was, among others, deliberated on by Professor Vasks in his article “Vendu jautājums Latvijas aizvēsturē” (The Question of Vendi in Latvian Ancient History”), which can be read in Volume 26 of the “Archaeology and Ethnography” journal. Vendi as a tribe, were obviously assimilated among the predecessors of the residents of Vidzeme - Letts during the 13th century.

Guntis Zemītis writes that the phonetic similarity of the ethnonyms “Vendi” and “Venedi” has prompted Russian scientists to voice the hypothesis that Vendi could have already been a Slavic tribe in the 19th century. However, it did not go further than a hypothesis since it is merely a guess that has not been proven. “In fact, we are speaking of a classical demagogical scheme - first, false news appears, then reference to this news as a source follows,” says the head of the Institute of History of the University of Latvia, characterising the attempts of people thinking in line with the chauvinist ideas of great Russia.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture of Latvia

  • 1939 - 1940 Okupācijas priekšvēsture
    1939 - 1940
    Occupation prehistory
    • 23 August 1939
      The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany sign a non-aggression treaty.
    • 1 September 1939
      Germany attacks Poland – World War II begins; Latvia declares neutrality.
    • 17 September 1939
      USSR attacks Poland.
    • 5 October 1939
      As a result of military and political pressure, Latvia signs a “bilateral assistance” agreement with the USSR, allowing military army bases to be placed on Latvian territory.
    • 30 October 1939
      Nazi Germany signs an agreement with the Latvian government to transfer ethnic Germans living in Latvia to Germany.
    • 15 June 1940
      USSR attacks several border guard posts on the eastern border of Latvia.
    • 16 June 1940
      USSR presents Latvia with an ultimatum demanding Latvia allow unlimited Soviet troops to enter Latvian territory.
  • 1940-1941 Padomju okupācija
    Soviet occupation
    • 17 June 1940
      USSR occupies Latvia.
    • 20 June 1940
      A new government, created by Moscow and led by Augusts Kirhenšteins, is installed in Latvia.
    • 14-15 July 1940
      Rigged, non-democratic elections, which contravene Latvian election laws and the Latvian Constitution, take place; only one party participates – Latvijas Darba Tautas bloks [Latvian Workers’ Bloc].
    • 21 July 1940
      The illegally elected Parliament declares Latvia a Soviet Socialist Republic and requests that the USSR admit it to its Union. Kārlis Ulmanis steps down as president; he is arrested and deported to Russia the following day.
    • 5 August 1940
      Latvia is admitted to the USSR.
    • 13 August 1940
      The All-Union Communist Party (bolshevik) (AUCP(b)) Central Committee ratifies the constitution of the Latvian SSR.
    • November 1940
      The Soviet Russian Criminal Code officially becomes law in Latvia.
    • 14 May 1941
      The Soviet government and the AUCP(b) begins planning mass deportations and repressions of Latvian citizens by adopting the secret decision "On the deportation of foreign elements from the Baltic republics, Western Ukraine, and Moldavia ".
    • 13-14 June 1941
      The Soviet Union deports 15 443 inhabitants of Latvia.
  • 1941-1944/45 Nacionālsociālistiskās Vācijas okupācija
    Nazi German occupation
    • 22 June 1941
      Nazi Germany attacks the Soviet Union. Hostilities begin on Latvian territory along with Nazi occupation.
    • 16 July 1941
      Berlin creates the administrative region Ostland – Latvia is one of the four regions that make up Ostland.
    • July 1941
      The first mass annihilation of Jews begins – the largest actions take place in Riga, Daugavpils, and Liepāja, as well as in other smaller towns.
    • 30 November 1941
      Killing of Jews in the Riga Ghetto begins. In total, 70 000 Latvian Jews were killed. Thanks to the efforts of local citizens, 400 Latvian Jews were saved.
    • 5 December 1941
      The German army is defeated at Moscow.
    • 7 March 1942
      Nazi occupiers create the Landesselbstverwaltung – local administrative rule.
    • 29 января 1943 года
      Nazi occupiers adopt regulations for the arrest of Latvia’s Roma population and their incarceration in concentration camps.
    • 11 February 1943
      Orders are passed for the creation of a “voluntary” Latvian legion under the auspices of the SS; mobilization is often involuntary.
    • 13 August 1943
      Representatives of the four largest parties from the last Latvian Parliament found the Latvian Central Council (Latvijas Centrālā Padome – LCP) in Riga, which calls for the renewal of Latvian independence. Konstantīns Čakste is named head of the LCP.
    • 28 November 1943
      USA president Franklin Roosevelt, Great Britain’s prime minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meet at the Teheran Conference. Stalin succeeds in gaining permission to have a free hand in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe after the war.
    • 22 March 1944
      189 Latvian politicians submit a resolution to the Nazi occupiers for the renewal of Latvian independence, which is denied.
    • 18 July 1944
      The Soviet army defeats German troops and crosses the Latvian border at Šķaune in Ludza county. The second Soviet occupation begins.
    • End of July – beginning of August 1944
      German occupiers allow General Jānis Kurelis and the chief of his headquarters, Captain Kristaps Upelnieks, to create a separate military unit. It cooperates with the LCP in the hopes of becoming the nucleus of the army of independent Latvia.
    • 8 September 1944
      The last LCP meeting to occur on Latvian soil takes place at which a declaration for the renewal of Latvian independence is adopted.
    • 20 November 1944
      Unable to control troops under the command of Kurelis, German SD units arrest all military personal at his headquarters. Eight officers are convicted and shot. The remaining military personnel are imprisoned in concentration camps.
    • 5 February 1945
      Leaders of the USA, GB, and the USSR meet at Yalta. During discussions, Soviet demands are met, and the Soviets occupy Latvia once again.
  • 1944/45-1953 Staļinisma terors. Padomju okupācija.
    Soviet occupation
    Stalinist terror
    • 8 May 1945
      WWII ends on Latvian territory; German forces in Kurzeme surrender, including the 19th Latvian Legionnaire division.
    • 3 October 1945
      The first meeting of members of the LCP who have escaped to Germany takes place in Lustenau, Austria. Latvian citizens in exile continue the struggle for Latvian statehood.
    • 6 October 1945
      Latvian SSR Supreme Council members accept Moscow’s decision to annex the city of Abrene and six neighbouring townships to the Russian SSR.
    • 10 February 1946
      Latvian SSR Supreme Council elections take place.
    • 17 February 1947
      In order to weaken communist rule in Eastern Europe, the USA begins transmission of the Voice of America, which is listened to in Latvian territory illegally.
    • 29 January 1949
      USSR Council of Ministers decide to deport members of the National Partisans and their supporters, as well as wealthy farmers (kulaks) from Latvia to Siberia.
    • 25 March 1949
      Soviet occupiers carry out the second mass deportation of Latvian inhabitants to Siberia – in total 42 322 people.
    • July 1949
      As a result of repressive Soviet occupation politics, the number of collective farms (kolkhozes) triples, creating 3857 kolkhozes.
    • 17 January 1953
      Latvian SSR Supreme Council adopts the decree creating a new Latvian SSR flag.
    • 5 March 1953
      Stalin dies.
  • 1953-1959 “Atkusnis”. Padomju okupācija.
    Soviet occupation
    • 12 September 1953
      Nikita Khrushchev becomes First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee (CPSU CC).
    • 14 May 1955
      Creation of the Warsaw Pact.
    • 25 February 1956
      At the CPSU 20th Congress, Khrushchev openly speaks of crimes committed by Stalin and condemns the Stalin “personality cult”.
    • 23 August 1956
      The uprising by the people in Hungary is put down by Soviet forces.
  • 1959-1985 “Stagnācija”. Padomju okupācija.
    Soviet occupation
    • 7–8 July 1959
      Latvian CP plenum condemns the national communists.
    • 13 August 1961
      The GDR closes the border to West Berlin; building of the Berlin Wall begins.
    • 10 October 1964
      Khrushchev is forced to resign as First Secretary of the CPSU CK; Leonid Brezhnev takes his place.
    • December 1965
      The Hydroelectric Station at Pļaviņas begins operation.
    • 27 May 1968
      Calls for ending censorship and freeing political prisoners in Czechoslovakia initiates the “Prague Spring” demonstrations.
    • 20 August 1968
      Soviet troops put down the “Prague Spring”.
    • 25 December 1979
      Soviet forces invade Afghanistan.
    • 10 November 1982
      Leonid Brezhnev dies; Yuri Andropov becomes First Secretary of the CPSU CK.
    • 9 February 1984
      Yuri Andropov dies. Konstantin Chernenko becomes First Secretary of the CPSU CK.
    • 10 March 1985
      Konstantin Chernenko dies.
    • 11 March 1985
      Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the leader of the CPSU CK and the Soviet Union.
  • 1985-1990/91 “Perestroika”. Padomju okupācija.
    Soviet occupation
    • 10 July 1986
      The first Latvian human rights organization Helsinki-86 is founded in Liepāja.
    • October 1986
      Widespread public support for the environmental protection of the Daugava River begins.
    • 28 February 1987
      The Environment Protection Club (Vides aizsardzības klubs – VAK) is founded.
    • 14 June 1987
      Helsinki-86 invites people to lay flowers at the Freedom Monument to commemorate the deportations in 1941.
    • 23 August 1987
      A protest takes place by the Freedom Monument to commemorate the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact.
    • 27 April 1988
      VAK organizes protests against the proposed construction of a metro in Riga.
    • 1–2 June 1988
      The Latvian Creative Society organizes a plenum. Journalist, Art Academy professor, and member of the Supreme Council Mavriks Vulfsons publicly declares that Latvia was occupied in 1940.
    • 10 July 1988
      The Latvian National Independence Movement (Latvijas Nacionālās Neatkarības kustība – LNNK) is founded.
    • 16 July 1988
      VAK organizes a protest in Mežaparks at which the Latvian national flag is flown.
    • 8-9 October 1988
      Latvian National Front (Latvijas tautas fronte – LTF) founding congress. Dainis Īvāns is elected leader.
    • February 1989
      The pro-communist supporters of Moscow Interfront organize protests – they oppose proposed policies to stop migration to Latvia from other Soviet republics and to give the Latvian language official national status.
    • 5 May 1989
      Latvian SSR SC adopts a law granting Latvian national language status.
    • 23 August 1989
      The Baltic Way – a human chain over 660 km long is formed through all three Baltic countries to commemorate the 1939 Hitler- Stalin Pact.
    • 9 November 1989
      The Berlin Wall falls.
    • 18 November 1989
      Mass demonstrations for an independent Latvia on the banks of the Daugava with over 500,000 participants.
    • 18 March 1990
      Latvian SSR parliamentary elections.
  • Neatkarīga Latvija
    Independent Latvia
    • 4 May 1990
      Latvian SSR SC adopts the resolution for the restoration of Latvian independence.
    • 2 January 1991
      Soviet special forces OMON occupy the press building in Riga; there are armed attacks by OMON against other strategic government sites.
    • 13–27 January 1991
      Residents of Latvia create barricades in Riga to protect key locations from forces loyal to Moscow.
    • 3 March 1991
      Inhabitants of Latvia participate in a referendum on declaring an independent democratic state – two-thirds vote for restoring independence.
    • 12 June 1991
      Boris Yeltsin is elected president of Russia.
    • 19 August 1991
      Radical communist attempt a coup in Moscow – the August Putsch.
    • 21 August 1991
      Republic of Latvia Supreme Council declares the Republic of Latvia as an independent democratic state.
    • 22 August 1991
      Iceland is the first nation to recognize Latvian independence.
    • 24 August 1991
      The Russian Federation officially recognizes Latvian independence.
    • 17 September 1991
      Latvia joins the United Nations.
    • 30 December 1991
      The Soviet Union officially ceases to exist.
    • 14 February 1994
      Latvia joins the NATO program “Partnership for Peace”.
    • 12 March 1999
      The first post-Soviet nations join NATO – Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary.
    • November 2002
      Prague summit. NATO leaders decide to invite Latvia to begin negotiations for admittance.
    • 20 September 2003
      Referendum on joining the European Union.
    • 29 March 2004
      Latvia becomes a member of NATO.
    • 1 May 2004
      Latvia becomes a member of the European Union along with 10 other nations.