Rīga officials deny permit for anti-government march

Rīga city officials have denied a permit for a demonstration planned just four days after a small riot in the city’s Old Town district near the parliament building.

The demonstration’s organizers, the Action Party (Rīcības party, formerly known as the Eiroskeptiķi), announced on their Web site that they will appeal the Jan. 15 decision of the Rīga City Council’s commission in charge of meetings, parades and pickets.

The permit was denied based on suggestions from law enforcement officials, according to a press release from the city council. Organizers were asked to reschedule the demonstration by a few weeks, but they declined.

Following a peaceful Jan. 13 demonstration in the Dome Square attended by an estimated 10,000 protesters, unrest broke out by the nearby Saeima building and then spread to Smilšu Street. Windows in several businesses and government buildings were smashed by rioters, a liquor store was looted and several police vehicles were damaged. More than 100 people were arrested and several dozen injured.

The large-scale demonstration had been called by the political party Sabiedrība citai politikai to demand that President Valdis Zatlers dismiss the parliament.

The Action Party wanted to organize a Jan. 17 demonstration at the Saeima and then march to the Castle of Rīga, the president’s official residence. The party is calling on the government of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis to step down.

The Rīga city commission also reviewed an application for a Jan. 22 assembly at the Saeima building planned by the Latvian Student Association (Latvijas Studentu apvienība), but the association withdrew its application after meeting with city officials, according to the press release.

Meanwhile, the anticorruption watchdog group Delna, the European Movement-Latvia and other organizations plan to stage a Jan. 16 action by the Freedom Monument in downtown Rīga to condemn the vandalism of Jan. 13 but to press for basic democratic values. Participants are asked to wear white ribbons to symbolize empathy for the action, which is titled “Ieklausies! Es esmu Latvija” (Listen up! I am Latvia!), according to a press release from Delna.

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

One thought on “Rīga officials deny permit for anti-government march

  1. Not sure I understand your political structure but isn’t your president elected by your parliament and the prime minister and cabinet answerable to the parliament? If the referendum to dissolve parliament took place and received voter approval,wouldn’t the president appoint the cabinet himself and be answerable to nobody? A virtual dictator. A repeat of Latvian history from the 30’s? I find your news stories well written,obviously by an English speaker.They are free of the painful syntax used by those who have learned the language but not used it on an every-day bases.

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