Demonstration to press for Saeima’s dissolution

A demonstration to demand that President Valdis Zatlers dissolve Latvia’s parliament is scheduled Jan. 13 in Rīga’s Dome Square, while the nation’s Security Police is investigating an Internet-based call for the violent overthrow of the government.

The demonstration is being organized by Sabiedrība citai politikai, a political party led by Aigars Štokenbergs and Artis Pabriks, as well as other groups.

“We ask all of Latvia’s patriots to come to the Dome Square on Jan. 13 to show that we are concerned about our nation’s future, justice and democracy,” organizers state on a Web site promoting the demonstration, The two-hour demonstration is to start at 17:30 hours local time.

The call for the demonstration, reminiscent of the “umbrella revolution” protests of late 2007, comes as the public’s unhappiness with the Latvian government has risen with the country’s deepening economic crisis.

It is not the first time Zatlers has been asked to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. Under Latvia’s constitution, the president may call for the dissolution of the Saeima. A national referendum must then be held. If the referendum succeeds then the parliament is dissolved, but if it fails then the president must step down.

In August, voters failed to pass a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would have allowed citizens the right to call for a dismissal of the parliament. Although turnout fell short of what was needed, those who did vote were overwhelmingly in favor of the amendment. That led Zatlers to call on the Saeima to approve such an amendment on its own, but the parliament has yet to consider a bill.

Amid efforts to promote the Jan. 13 demonstration, an unnamed individual or individuals have suggested that a violent overthrow of the government is needed, too. Under a headline of “4.atmoda ir klāt” (The Fourth Awakening Has Arrived!), a call to action posted last week on several Web sites explains how to make a Molotov cocktail and tells readers to throw them at the Saeima building.

The State Security Police is investigating the Web postings, the Apollo portal reported Jan. 9. At least two of three Web sites carrying the message had been blocked by the morning of Jan. 12.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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