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02.02.2006   Latvian Parliament punished opposition MP for Anti-Nazi activity.

Communication by the FHRUL Group in the Saiema (Parliament of Latvia)


February 2, 2006


On February 2, 2006 the Parliament of Latvia has taken an appalling decision on MP Nikolaj Kabanov's expulsion from the Foreign Affairs Committee. The decision contradicts elementary norms of parliamentary democracy and freedom of speech.


Nationalistic groups of the Parliament accused Mr. Kabanov of what they call "crimes incompatible with the status of the member of the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as with the status of an MP".


Here is the list of these alleged crimes:

- Nikolaj Kabanov organized presentation of the documentary "Baltic-style Nacism" for a group of journalists on the premises of the Parliament. Right-wing politicians do not like that in the documentary the Latvian SS Legion of the WW2 was portrayed in the context of the Nurnberg process, and the annual celebration of the foundation of the Legion was qualified as a sign of neo-Nazism arising in modern Latvia.

-   For the past three years in his newspaper articles Mr. Kabanov has being publishing alleged state secrets taken from the debates of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Before the presentation of the documentary his opponents attracted no special attention to this kind of "criminal" activity.

-   Mr. Kabanov has caused irrecoverable damage to the national interests by asking a question in Russian language during the meeting of a Parliamentary committee.  

- Mr. Kabanov has come to such a suspicious proximity to the State President's Banner, which was misunderstood by some MPs as Mr. Kabanov wiping off his sweat with the Banner.


Our group opinions that, taking into account the Latvian Constitution and the Regulation of the Parliament, none of these unproven allegations can constitute a fair ground for punishment of an MP. Expulsion of Mr. Kabanov from the Foreign Affairs Committee amounts to persecution for presenting the anti-Nazi documentary. This impression was strengthened by an immediate step of the Parliament, which voted in favour of assigning of Mr. Kabanov to the Budgetary Committee.


The punishment of Nikolaj Kabanov was made under the pressure of the influential nationalistic daily "Latvijas avize", which regularly express its sympathy to the Latvian SS Legion and organizes denunciations and hunting down of Russian minority politicians in Latvia.      


The shameful vote of the Parliament is not only a clear expression of the totalitarian nature of the Latvian main-stream political elite, but also the evidence of growing anxiety of neo-Nazi supporters. March 16 is approaching. It is the anniversary of the Latvian SS Legion. On this day many right-wing nationalistic MPs will be enormously frustrated: who can afford walking the streets of Riga alongside the former SS militia and young chauvinistic radicals without being subjected to international criticism. In these circumstances Latvian nationalists seek to avoid international publicity of this questionable tribute. This year the commemoration may be held under the slogan "Latvia for Latvians", recently proclaimed by the radical nationalistic party "All for Latvia". Kabanov posed an obstacle by drawing public attention to the issue. 


The case of Kabanov is not unprecedented. In 2004 another oppositional MP - Martijan Becasov was punished by the Latvian Parliament for excessive criticism of the discrimination of Russian-speaking minority in Latvia. The Saeima vindicated by withdrawing him from the position of the EP observer. The European Parliament disagreed with this repressive logic and refused to adopt the decision of the national Parliament.


The FHRUL group of the Saeima calls upon the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the Parliaments of democratic countries to join us in the struggle for protection of the fundamental rights, freedom of speech, and democratic values in the Republic of Latvia threatened by the recent attack of totalitarian and revanchist forces.


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