Question: How can you comment upon the statements of President of Latvia А. Berzins in the interview to Latvian television channel LNT that the Latvian ex-legionaries of Waffen-SS are not criminals and we should ‘take off our hats to them’?
Answer: The attempts to justify the crimes of the Latvian Voluntary SS Legion against the civilians of the Novgorod and Pskov Regions, Belarus, and in Riga ghetto are sacrilegious and immoral; they naturally cause strong indignation both in Latvia and abroad.
We see a demonstrative neglect of the resolution of the 66th session of UN General Assembly about inadmissibility of actions promoting the escalation of the modern forms of racism and xenophobia, as well as the recent country report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance in which a grave concern about glorification of the Nazi movement, ex-members of Waffen-SS, and local collaborationists is expressed.
Moreover, such attempts to whitewash Hitler’s accomplices are accompanied by outrageous, refined argumentation that the Soviet government rehabilitated ex-members of SS as far back as in 1955.
In this connection I would like to remind that Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dd. 17 September 1955 refers not to the rehabilitation but amnesty of soviet citizens ‘who due to cowardice or unconscious behaviour were involved in cooperation with the invaders during the Great Patriotic War’ and also specifies that the amnesty does not apply to ‘the punishers convicted of murders and torture of the Soviet citizens’.
I regret but have to note that the deep desire of the official Riga for ‘historical revenge’ does not contribute to the perception of modern Latvia as a democratic state and to the development of its relations with Russia.