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Latvian parliament rejected idea of criminal punishment for denial of “Soviet occupation”

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The Latvian Saeima decided today, on January 18, not to hand over to parliamentary commissions a bill that introduces criminal punishment for denial of the fact of “Soviet occupation,” a REGNUM correspondent informs. According to amendments to the criminal law prepared by MPs from TB/LNNK, for such “action” one should be punished by imprisonment for the sentence of up to three years or a fine worth up to 60 minimal wages (about $13,600).

Introducing the bill, TB/LNNK MP Juris Dobelis expressed his bewilderment: there is a punishment for slander, moral damage of certain persons etc., but when it comes to the country and period of history significant for the Latvian people, everyone can to say what one wants. The MP believes that a person that denies the “Soviet occupation” is “either a villain or a demented person” and “either a good doctor or a good warder” are needed to deal with them.

In his turn, ZaPCheL (For Human Rights in the United Latvia) MP Vladimir Buzayev speaking against the bill, said that the proposal to try a person for public expression of ones opinion is a sign of totalitarian thinking. Reminding that chair of TB/LNNK faction Maris Grinblats in his time taught Marxism-Leninism, Buzayev cited such argument: “Not everyone believes that in 1940 Latvia was occupied. Some people are still sure that it was a socialist revolution. Its just like today many people in this hall are sure that Latvian Armed Forces are now in Iraq fulfilling a liberation mission.” As a result, only 30 MPs voted for submitting the bill to parliamentary commissions, 22 voted against and 32 abstained from voting.

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