Members of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation strongly condemn the actions by the authorities of the Republic of Latvia related to unceasing politically motivated repressions against Russian-speaking journalists and public figures working in the country.
Systemic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Latvia have recently become more often and massive. The policy of the Latvian authorities aimed at infringement upon interests of so-called non-citizens and national minorities, de-facto annihilation of Russian-language education space, cynical rewriting of history for the sake of current political environment, glorification of Nazi criminals and their accomplices from among local collaborationists, cultural and linguistic discrimination are accompanied by overt violation of the right to freedom of expression and hindering journalists from exercising their professional activity.
Detention on 3 December 2020 of seven employees of news portals “Sputnik Latvia” and “Baltnews” by the Latvian State Security Service (VDD) became yet another provocative action by the Latvian authorities aimed at illegally squeezing representatives of Russian-language media out of the Latvian information space. Following eight-hour interrogations and searches the detained Russian-speaking journalists were charged under Part 1 of Section 84 of the Latvian Criminal Law (violation of the EU sanctions regime) which provides for a punishment of deprivation of liberty.
Justification by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs of the national security services’ repressive actions by the need to implement the European Union sanctions policy is a cynical attempt to legitimise political censorship fueled by overt Russophobia and revanchism that has become an integral part of today’s political environment in that Baltic country whose authorities unscrupulously shield their xenophobic policy by protection provided by the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Members of the State Duma regard as absolutely unacceptable undertaking punitive operations against disliked public figures and journalists in the Republic of Latvia. Judging such steps as part of an aggressive campaign of suppressing dissent that undermines the foundations of existence of any democratic society, members of the State Duma believe that actions of the Latvian authorities directly violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms guaranteeing everyone the right to freedom of expression, to receive and distribute information and ideas without any interference on the part of public authority and regardless of state frontiers.
Members of the State Duma urge parliaments of European states to condemn gross violations by the Republic of Latvia of its international obligations to uphold freedom of speech, as well as to support unimpeded functioning of the media, to oppose the use of coercive methods and censorship as tools of political struggle and informational confrontation.
Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly
of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin