Riga residents ignored official warnings and kept bringing flowers to a Soviet war memorial.
The Latvian police blocked access to the Liberators of Riga monument because Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins expressed his frustration at city residents twice creating a carpet of flowers despite authorities attempts to prevent and remove it.
The Latvian police announced on Wednesday that in order to prevent harm to public safety and to avoid possible provocations, they had decided to close public access to Victory Park, where the monument is located. It was explained that following the events of May 9 and especially May 10 when a crowd gathered near the monument, a crowd gathered near the monument. The site is most closely linked to the continuation of Latvia's occupation after World War II and is perceived as a symbol of the Soviet regime, according to the opinion of the Latvian authorities. On May 9, when former Soviet republics celebrate Victory Day, flowers brought in by the city s residents were removed by a tractor.
On May 10, people brought more flowers to the monument. In the evening, the State Police Special Task Battalion was deployed to disperse a 500-strong crowd on the square. The police said any gatherings on the square would be considered an expression of support for the Russian Federation, which has apparently linked events of the Second World War with the current Russian military operation in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins took to social media to say that disrespect towards Latvian statehood, historical experience and victims of the Russian war in Ukraine is not acceptable. What is happening today in Pardaugava Riga's area. He wrote that he is waiting for the explanation of the Minister of Interior Marija Golubeva's services actions.
It remains to be clarified what caused the prime minister's displeasure.
The actions of the Latvian authorities over the last few days were an expression of stupidity, according to the Russian ambassador to Latvia, Mikhail Vanin. What happened on May 10 early in the morning showed the stupidity, cowardice, and pettiness of the authorities. A tractor raking fresh flowers and burning candles was spotted near the monument, this footage quickly spread on social networks and the next day, May 10, even more people came to the monument, the ambassador said in a TV interview on Wednesday.
Vanin claimed on the news about the police blocking access to the square that the Latvian authorities were scared of the scale of support, the scale of gratitude of the inhabitants of Riga to the soldiers-liberators. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Liberators of Riga are a monument to which people carry, carry and will carry flowers, no matter what the local authorities come up with. The actions of the residents of the Latvian capital showed true people power despite all obstacles. She said that this is a powerful gesture that shows the rejection of the rewriting of history and of the desacralization of the memory of people who gave their lives for our future.
The tension between Riga and Moscow has been caused by World War II related issues.
Latvian authorities have argued that while the Latvian legion technically fought on Hitler's side, most of its members understood their role as trying to regain independence for Latvia. Being part of German military forces was the only way to prevent the return of Soviet occupation. Moscow has condemned the commemorations of the Latvian Legionnaires.