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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 17.04.2024, 19:17

Riga mayor: Protest meetings should be banned in order to prevent spread of Covid-19

BC, Riga, 15.12.2020.Print version
Protest meetings should be banned in other to prevent Covid-19 from spreading at such events, Riga mayor Martins Stakis (For Development/For/Progressives) said at a news conference on December 14th, cites LETA.

Photo: Eugene Safraneka, Facebook

The Riga mayor agreed that freedom of speech is essential but said that last Saturday's protests in the capital city showed that the protesters were not only unable but also unwilling to follow Covid-19 rules.

Stakis said that the December 12 protests and law enforcement authorities' response to them was today analyzed at a meeting of the Riga cooperation territory's civil defense committee. Stakis said that the police worked professionally and fulfilled their main task, which was to prevent aggression and provocations.

Stakis believes that as far as similar events are concerned, one of the most realistic solutions would be to ask the government to ban such pickets altogether.

Since the organizers of some events intentionally ignore restrictions on gatherings and effective epidemiological requirements, thus posing serious threats to public health and security, the city council will ask the central government to impose additional restrictions on holding pickets, meetings and demonstrations during the state of emergency. 

"Last Saturday everyone saw that the organizers were not only unable but also unwilling to restrict the pickets in any way. They were well aware of their risks and committed the violations on purpose. This happened on a weekend when Latvia recorded its highest number of [Covid-19] deaths yet," Stakis said.

The Riga mayor praises the state and municipal police who worked accord according to the plan and kept the situation from escalating, avoiding aggression and provocations. "In our opinion, one of the most realistic solutions, as far as future pickets are concerned, would be to ask the government to ban meetings, demonstrations and pickets, just like it was the case in the spring," Stakis said.

If the government refuses to impose the ban, the Riga local government will demand that organizers of the protests ensure compliance with the Covid-19 rules and restrictions and if the demand is ignored, the local authority can refuse to authorize the protests, Stakis warned.

A new protest over Covid-19 restrictions has been announced in Riga this Sunday, December 20, Riga mayor Martins Stakis (For Development/For/Progressives) said at a news conference Monday. 

The Riga mayor said that protesters had initially planned two events - one on Wednesday and one on Sunday, but the organizers eventually called the Wednesday's protest off. 

Riga city acting executive director Elina Trautmane said that the protest is being organized by the People's Power Front and that it will take place by the Freedom Monument from 11:00 till 14:00.

The aim of the meeting is to "inform people about the fascism of the state and Covid-19 dictatorship", according to the organizers. 

As reported, two rallies in Riga gathered several hundreds of people on Saturday, violating Covid-19 restrictions, LETA observed.

A meeting organized by the Environment Protection Club president Arvids Ulme was held at the November 11th Embankment, standing in support of "human ecology and Covid-19 substantiation" at noon. The event ended at 4:30 p.m. The organizers promised twice as large protest later if the government does not meet their demands.

A different meeting was held later on Saturday afternoon by the Freedom Monument, organized by society Yes to Stabilization. The aim of the meeting was to attract attention to insufficient support to businessmen and employees during the state of emergency. One of the event's organizers, Aleksejs Roslinkovs, called on the public to end the event and not provoke law enforcement who are doing their job. The public started to disperse soon after that.

Some of the people attending the events were wearing face masks, but most of them were not. Many people did not observe the distance. The police were using loudspeakers, calling on people to disperse.

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