Baltic States – CIS, Belarus, Forum, Latvia, Legislation

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 20.01.2021, 12:09

Latvia blacklists head of Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation

BC, Riga, 17.11.2020.Print version
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) has included Dmitry Baskov, chairman of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, and Belarusian kickboxer Dmitry Shakuta in the list of persons undesirable in Latvia over they role in the ruling regime's crackdown on peaceful mass protesters in Belarus, reports LETA.

The minister said on Twitter that Latvia, along with Lithuania and Estonia, will soon expand their "black lists" by including those who continue to violently suppress the peaceful protests in Belarus. "We don't need such hockey," Rinkevics added, quoting a famous phrase by a Soviet-era sports commentator.

According to media reports, Baskov and Shakuta were involved in an attack on opposition activist Raman Bandarenko who later died in hospital. 

The reports about Baskov's involvement in the attack come only days before the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is due to decide whether to allow Minsk to co-host the upcoming 2021 World Ice Hockey Championship. The other host of the tournament would be Riga. The IIHF is expected to take the decision on Wednesday, November 18. 

The chairman of the Saeima's Sports Sub-committee Sandis Riekstins (New Conservative Party) told LETA that Latvia must make it clear that it will not co-host next year's Ice Hockey World Championships together with Belarus.

This was the politician's answer to the question whether Latvia should withdraw from co-hosting the tournament, given the killings and violent beatings of the Belarussian regime and the fact that the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) continues to support the organization of the tournament in Belarus.

The head of the sports sub-committee stressed that "we cannot flirt" on this issue and it must be made clear that we will not organize the hockey championship together with Belarus. ''A date by which we are waiting for the IIHF response must be set, and if it continues to insist on organizing the championship in Belarus, then Latvia must announce that it will not co-host the tournament,'' Riekstins emphasized.

It would also be a signal to the Belarusian people that we support it at a time when the Belarusian authorities are using violence against its own people, Riekstins said. He also pointed out that the leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has already spoken rather unflatteringly about the European Union (EU), that the EU's reaction to what was happening in Belarus has been too slow.

The EU's slow reaction to what is happening in Belarus is unacceptable, and Riekstins emphasizes that Latvia must make a timely decision on whether or not it will co-host the tournament.

Asked whether the government has the legal capability and whether the Saeima should decide on this issue instead, Riekstins pointed out that the IIHF's view on this issue, which is expected in the coming days, should first be awaited. After that, the Sports Sub-committee could also decide what to do, he said.

Riekstins expressed hope that the IIHF would not ignore the skepticism expressed by Finland and other countries about hosting the World Championships in Belarus.

Search site