Hundreds took the streets in Riga protesting against giving asylum to migrants from Africa and Middle East. The protest organizers were local nationalist unions, “Justice” and “Defenders of the Fatherland.” The goal of the protests was to draw attention to the “problem of immigration threatening Latvia and demand the ruling coalition to protect the national interests and prevent enforcement of compulsory refugee quotas.” More than 500 people marched through the capital of Latvia, an EADaily correspondent reports.
The organizers did not expect such big number of participants in the protests. The protesters marched through Riga singing patriotic songs and carrying banners “Against Migrants!” “Why don’t the government and EU say that migrants will return home after war?”, “Giving asylum to migrants is not a decision, but escalation!”, “How many immigrants will the prime minister give shelter to personally?”
The march closed near the Liberty Monument with a concert “The Baltic is Ours” featuring the choir "Vilki", Ainars Virga, Dzintars Beitans, Valdis Atals, Uldis Kakulis, Juris Kulakovs, Guntars Mucenieks and other musicians.
Some activists delivered speeches demanding dismissal of the Saeima and the government as well as calling for withdrawal from the Schengen Treaty. The musicians performing at the concert called on the people to rise up for the interests of Latvia like twenty-five years ago when they fought to exit the Soviet Union.
Aleksandr Gaponenko, a prominent Latvian human rights activist and public figure, shared his impressions from what he witnessed in Riga in social media. “There were overwhelmingly young and middle-aged people. They were demanding that the ‘Unity’ Party is kicked out. They were carrying posters of EU President Juncker in company with Stalin and Hitler. Later at home, I found out that the events were organized by the ‘Defenders of the Fatherland’ and ‘Justice,’ two national-radical Latvian organizations. The Latvians have finally understood that the ruling group just exploits the nationalist slogans, in fact, waging a policy of denationalization. Security services were everywhere. They used to snub Russians, now they will learn what it means to fight one’s own ‘liberasts’. The authorities have actually deported two hundred thousand of Latvians to Europe. Now they are going to replace them with the same number of Arabs. I have finally realized why they expelled the titular nation. Now it is clear that for Washington there is no difference between Russians and Latvians. All they are foreigners,” he said.
It is already the second protest organized by the “Defenders of the Fatherland.” The first was on August 4 outside the government building that brought together several hundreds, EADaily reported then. On September 12, about 80 people organized a picket in support of the asylum seekers in Esplanāde, Riga.
According to the EU refugee quota, Latvia is to give asylum to 776 refugees. The quota may be increased.