Latvians joined other Eastern European groups in an Aug. 15 demonstration in Washington, D.C., against the Russian invasion of Georgia—and they plan to do it again Aug. 16.
The protesters demanded Russia’s withdrawal from Georgia and asked the International Olympic Committee to strip Russia of the right to host the Olympic Games in 2014. Responding to Georgian military operations in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Russian forces entered Georgia on Aug. 8 as this summer’s Olympic Games were beginning in Beijing, China.
Russia plans to host the 2014 Games in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the same place where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Aug. 16 signed a truce with Georgia. But the ceasefire came among reports of Russian forces continuing to advance within Georgia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili signed the agreement on Aug. 15.
The Washington protest, supported by the American Latvian Association, took place near the White House and at the Russian Embassy, the Joint Baltic American National Committee said in a press release.
Another demonstration is scheduled at 3 p.m. Aug. 16 in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, the ALA said in an e-mail to supporters.
In Latvia, President Valdis Zatlers on Aug. 16 signed a book of condolences at the Georgian Embassy in Rīga. Zatlers said Latvia is working to quickly send international observers to Georgia to oversee the truce, according to president’s press office. Zatlers received some criticism in the media for failing to travel to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in a show of support with the presidents of Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. He remained in Beijing at the Olympic Games, but Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis did join the presidents.
Latvia’s government will contribute LVL 100,000 in humanitarian aid to Georgia.
Gustavs Plato, treasurer of the American Latvian Association, is interviewed during the Aug. 15 demonstration in Washington, D.C., by Rustavi 2, an independent broadcaster in Georgia. (Photo courtesy American Latvian Association)
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