Latvian–Baltic MailerVolume XI Nr. 8March 17, 2017


Sveiki, all!

A busy week in the news, including Latvians observing Latvian Legion Commemoration Day. Uninformed ahistorical denunciations of Nazi support by Latvians continue while the Latvians themselves grow weary—instead of chagrined.

If you are truly interested in the Latvian Legion and the verity of allegations it was a criminal Nazi organization, we recommend our project site, featuring reviews of press coverage and conspiracy theorists' tomes. Most importantly, we would direct you to its detailed examination of the INS/DOJ deportation case against Vilis Hāzners, the epicenter of the Soviet-propaganda inspired "hunt for Latvian Nazis" in the United States

Other items include the usual Russian hacking, finance, and incluence intrigue involving the Baltics, news that the Baltics lead other countries in entrepreneurship, and lighter items including a real-life "Rapunzel" and a Latvian artist inspiring other with her philosophy and use of color.

In this issue:

Ar visu labu,

Silvija  Peters

Baltic Link(s)

Our first link is to general background on the Baltic states. While dated regarding current events (1995), this book (PDF) offers and excellent historical overview.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania country studies

As we review in this week's news, the history and controversy over the Latvian Legion features prominently every March 16th, Latvian Legion Commemoration Day. Materials are available on the Latvian Foreign Ministry site regarding its history:

The "Volunteer SS Legion" in Latvia

including a fact sheet:

16 March Explained


Russian Espionage Piggybacks on a Cybercriminal’s Hacking

The tale of a breathtaking span of cyber-hacking by the F.B.I.'s most wanted cyber-criminal in the world, Evgeniy M. Bogachev, of Russian authorities surfing Bogachev's hacks, and of FSB and other hackers targeted by U.S. authorities, including an ethnic Russian from Latvia named Alexsey Belan.

Essential reading for anyone remotely concerned about the security of their personal and financial information.

The story notes that there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and Russian authorities have indicated they have no cause to act if Bogachev has not committed a crime in Russia. However, we must add that this is superfluous, as the Russian constitution expressly forbids the extradition of any Russian citizen from Russia for any reason, per Article 61 Paragraph 1:

The citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Moldova: Russia Intimidating Officials Over Corruption Probe

Moldova's parliament has accused Russian intelligence operatives of abusing and humiliating some 25 Moldovan lawmakers and other officials and politicians, as well as abusive treatment at Moscow's airport. Unsurprisingly, this Russian conduct coincides with the probe of a $22 billion money laundering scheme and scandal involving judges and judicial officials—the funds having been moved from Russian shell companies into EU banks through Latvia.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Gazprom Makes Concessions in E.U. Gas Deal, but Trouble Looms for Russian Giant

Gazprom recently came to an agreement with the EU over its essential monopoly gouging central and eastern European countries. The New York Times published an extensive article dealing with the status of Gazprom in Europe and condition domestically in Russia. Important reading for anyone following Russian energy in Europe.

"In its statement, the European Commission said Gazprom had pledged to remove restrictions on reselling gas; ensure that prices in Central and Eastern Europe were competitive; and not act on any advantages regarding gas infrastructure that it had obtained because of its dominant selling position."

You can read the full story at the link, above.

WEF: Estonia is Europe’s most entrepreneurial country

The World Economic Forum has identified Estonia as the most entrepreneurial country in Europe, with Italy, Greece, and Spain bringing up the rear. (We expect the Catalans would vociferously separate themselves from the rest of Spain in that regard.)

The top ten, note all three Baltic states appear in the rankings:

Europe's entrepreneurial hotspots

  1. Estonia
  2. Sweden
  3. Latvia
  4. Netherlands
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Slovak Republic
  7. Lithuania
  8. Denmark
  9. Austria
  10. Romania

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Four thousand ethnic Russians in Estonia now consider Estonian their native language

We have long maintained that language is culture, that once a language dies out, so does the culture. Yet, highly respected geopolitical analyst Paul Goble writes of a new phenomenon budding in Estonia, that of non-Russian-speaking Russians.

Goble considers the implications of non-Estonians identifying Estonian as their native language, as well as the 24,000 ethnic Estonians who speak no Estonian at all.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

ON TARGET: Nazis and Canada’s Latvian love-in

It is unsurprising that fatigue is setting in over the observance of Latvian Legion commemoration day in Latvia. Journalist Scott Taylor paints an axis of Nazi evil connecting Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, her grandfather Michael Chomiak who was an editor on a Nazi-published newspaper, and Canadian NATO deployment supporting, lastly, Nazi-celebrating Latvians.

From editors working under the Nazis in Latvia, to Estonians broadcasting news to the occupied Baltics from a German radio station, and, we suspect, the case of Freeland's grandfather, there is a difference between supporting the Nazi cause and the Holocaust and not saying "no" when the Nazis came knocking at your door. All of the Baltics and the majority of Polish territory was occupied first by the Soviets, then by the Germans. Stalin had already taught the lesson, cooperate or die.

In the 1960's and 1970's, the Soviets launched massive propaganda campaigns accusing Baltic and Ukrainian post-war émigré communities of not only harboring, but being led by, Nazis who commanded and executed the extermination of Jews in their homelands. The Canadian Ukrainian community was attacked in the propaganda tome "SS Werewolves", Latvians targeted by multiple publications, the most infamous being "Daugavas Vanagi—Who Are They?" Today's Kremlin and its apparatchiks still lodge the allegations in those materials.

Taylor denounces "Latvia’s annual tribute to fascism,... parade for the SS." As further evidence of evil Latvia:

"A closer look at Latvia’s current parliament reveals that this is not merely a nostalgic commemoration of fallen warriors, as the neo-fascist (ultra nationalist) National Alliance Party holds 17 seats and is a member of the ruling coalition."

The National Alliance is a merger of two prior conservative parties, "For Fatherland and Freeedom" and "All for Latvia!" While right-wing and nationalist, the party is hardly a hotbed of fascism.

Taylor also brings up the issue of "nepilsoņi," non-citizens:

"Then there is the little issue about the non-citizen status of all non-ethnic Latvian residents. Approximately one-eighth of Latvia’s two million inhabitants are effectively considered second-class citizens as they are not allowed to vote and cannot hold certain positions in local and national governments as well as in the civil service. The majority of non-ethnic Latvians are ethnic Russians, whose family history in Latvia dates back to the Second World War."

He is completely mistaken in his characterization. He contends that all non-ethnic Latvian residents are denied citizenship. The great majority of those whose family were imported to Latvia during the USSR's post-WWII Russification program (while conducting mass deportations of Latvians) have long since naturalized. Frankly, anyone still a "non-citizen" twenty-six years after the death of the USSR is so by choice.

Taylor contends "It isn’t [Russian] disinformation if it’s true." Once again, the Kremlin proves that it only need shout "NAZIS!" and journalists bursting with moral indignation will rush to crucify Latvia and anyone who supports it.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Support for March 16 falling

Research and polls show that support for observing Latvian Legion Memorial Day is waning in Latvia, at only a third of those surveyed, if only from exhaustion over the endless controversy and negative press abroad portraying Latvians as fighting "on the side of" the Nazis, language the article itself employs. Whether volunteering or illegally conscripted, Latvians were against Soviet re-invasion, not for Nazism. That they fought alongsideGerman forces does not mean they fought on the side of the Nazis.

The crimes of collaborators are used to tar the entire Latvian Legion, formed after the Holocaust had already taken its toll. Even though prior collaborators were joined to the Legion late in the war as conditions deteriorated on the Eastern Front, no one has ever been accused of any war crime while in the service of the Legion—whose member guarded the most notorious prisoners during the post-war Nuremberg Trials.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Artists in Our Town—Larisa Aukon, Latvian Artist

An long-time admirer, and workshop attendee, of Latvia-trained Arizona-based Larisa Aukon offers a brief biography of the artist and what draws her to Aukon's works. The article features samples of Aukon's artwork, included here:

Click on a thumbnail to view the picture. Mouse over the either side of the picture and click to navigate or use the left/right arrow keys.

Larisa Aukon, In Wonderland

Larisa Aukon, view along an old town street

Larisa Aukon, Timeless

Larisa Aukon, Celebrate

Aukon has her own web site:

You can read the full story at the link, above.

She's a real life Rapunzel!

On the lighter side in the news, Russian now living in Latvia fairy-tale fan Aliia Nasyrova has not cut her hair since she was seven (now 27!) and has hair 90 inches, over 2¼ meters, long. So long that she and her husband Ivan consider her locks another member of the family. Aliia does trim once month to remove split ends. The article includes numerous photos—and is certain to brighten your day albeit in an odd sort of way.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Lithuanian parliament moves to impeach MP over Russian ties

Lithuanian MP Mindaugas Bastys is being impeached and investigated by the parliament for his close personal relationships with representatives of the Russian state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, Russian gas trade monopoly Gazprom and Russian state television, including past lobbying on their behalf. It is worth noting that Lithuania strenuously objects to the nuclear power plant Rosatom is building on the border next door in Belarus.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Conspiracy Theorist Mike Cernovich’s Documentary on Sweden Contains Footage from Lithuania

Lithuania is featured prominently as a stand-in for Sweden in the latest alt-right fake news assault on the fake news. Mike Cernovich, Pizzagate conspiracy theorist and purveyor of "Sick Hillary," freely retouches reality to suit his depravity and present it as the truth. Worth reading just for the numerous before-and-after photos, Cernovich versus actual. One can admire the creativity, even if it is to lie.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Lithuanian Dairy Company Sends Trial Products to Chinese Market

Lithuania's dairy industry has been struggling to recover since the EU imposed sanctions on Russia and the Kremlin retaliated by banning EU and western food imports. A large Lithuanian dairy group has just sent a testing shipment of lactose to China.

Lactose? A major consumer of lactose is the pharmaceutical industry, which uses it as filler for pills. The Chinese pharma industry has been growing on the order of 20% per year—we expect that is the shipment's destination.

You can read the full story at the link, above.

Picture Album

Larisa Aukon's vibrant artwork reminded us of these mushrooms picked on one of our trips to Latvia.

A bucketful of colorful Latvian mushrooms

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