Latvia out of time for Soviet symbols ban by May 9
RIGA, April 18 (RAPSI) - The Latvian parliament on Thursday upheld a proposal by the Reform Party to nullify a time limit for considering a bill that would prohibit the use of Soviet and Nazi symbols, the parliament's press service said.
The parliament had previously set a time limit on the bill, which provides for reducing the number of hearings from three to two, in order to adopt it by May 9.
The bill was drafted by the Unity liberal conservative party, which proposed banning flags, emblems, anthems and other symbols, including conventionalized ones, of the former Soviet Union, the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and Nazi Germany.
On Thursday the Reform Party proposed lifting the time limit for the bill. The majority of MPs voted in favor of the proposal.
This means that the bill will not be adopted by May 9, which is marked as WWII Victory Day in the former Soviet Union.
The use of Nazi, Soviet Union and Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic symbols is prohibited in Latvia during marches, demonstrations and meetings. But the ban does not cover entertainment, festive and sports events.
Latvia's official position is that it was occupied by the USSR from 1940 through 1991. Russia, as a successor to the USSR, does not recognize the occupation. Russia has long been at odds with the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, as well as Poland, over what it sees as attempts to rewrite the history of World War II and diminish the Soviet role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.
While Russia maintains that the Red Army liberated the Baltic States from German invaders, many residents of the republics put the two occupations on a par, citing mass Stalin-era deportations and murders of the local population by Soviet secret police.
Latvia is still home to a significant proportion of Russians, estimated at about a quarter of the population. Many of them celebrate Victory Day on May 9.