Constitutional Circus or Riga Court

On August 8, 2022, six members of the Workers’ Front of Latvia filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court demanding 1 to cancel the decision to demolish the monument to the Liberators of Riga. To do this, they went through all the lower instances.

We had no illusions about the fairness and impartiality of the court. It was necessary to get a refusal from the Constitutional Court in order to appeal to the international court – the UN Human Rights Committee.

However, the response of the Constitutional Court of Latvia surprised us with its unconcealed bias and legal illiteracy. The text of the response does not look like a court decision, but like a propaganda of the Nazi party.

How the claim is made?

The demolition of the monument to the Liberators from fascism is barbarism and a crime. This is understood by anyone whose mind is not clouded by chauvinistic nonsense. In addition, the Monument is a work of art by Latvian sculptors and architects and a valuable cultural object. Hundreds of thousands of people lay flowers at the foot of the Monument every year. The monument symbolizes the devotion of the people of Latvia to the great feat of the fighters against fascism, who ensured both peace on Earth and the existence of Latvia itself. According to the cruel plan of the Nazi invaders, it was planned to destroy Latvia and the Latvian people, and turn the population into slaves.

The Monument to the Liberators of Riga is the property of all Latvians, regardless of nationality, and victory in the Great Patriotic War is a feat of the multinational Soviet people.

Each of these arguments is sufficient to abandon the barbaric idea of demolishing the Monument. But for a claim to the UN, it is necessary to choose the most suitable argument.

Well-known international lawyer Stanislovas Tomas helped us to draw up the claim. Practice shows that the UNHRC pays special attention to violations that threaten the existence of the culture of national minorities. That is why the following wording of the protection of the Monument was chosen:

“Applicants are active users of the Monument in the sense of paragraph 11 of Part 1 of Art. 17 of the Constitution. They use the monument, observing it, walking near it and laying flowers at the monument. The applicants belong to the Russian ethnic minority and the monument is essential for their ethnic culture within the meaning of Art. 114 of the Constitution 2 and Art. 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”.

“Victory in World War II is an essential part of Russian culture. The Victory Monument is a part of Russian ethnic culture and ethnic identity. In the agreement between Latvia and Russia, the Victory Monument is defined as a cultural object”.

What did the Constitutional Court say?

In its decision, the court began by noting that the Constitution of Latvia does recognize the need to respect the values and rights of national minorities (thank you!), and even to preserve and develop their identity, language and culture.

But then the court pointed out: “It is necessary to distinguish between the historical Russian national minority and "migrants and their descendants who arrived during the Soviet occupation"”. can enjoy the constitutional rights of national minorities in the event that he “identifies himself with a national minority historically residing in the territory of Latvia”.“However, the Applicants did not substantiate their belonging to the historical Russian national minority and that they include any rights included in Article 114 of the Constitution”, the court decision says 3.

That’s all. If you are who you are, that is not enough. You do not have the right to identity and preservation (let alone development) of your identity, language and culture – according to the Constitutional Court, these rights are not unconditional, they are not given to every person by birthright. Thus, the Latvian state officially supports the destruction of the culture and identity of entire peoples living in Latvia, persecutes people for their views and deprives them of basic human rights enshrined in international law.

We will not be surprised if soon, when applying to the Constitutional Court, the applicant will be forced to prove that he is a person.

Let’s see how the UNHRC, a body specifically created to ensure that all states parties to the pact interpret international legislation in the field of civil and political rights in the same way, will react to this fascist obscuration. After all, the response of the Constitutional Court is now part of the case before the Committee.

Please note that, so to speak, the logic of the Constitutional Court is based on the assertion that Russians who associate themselves with their Soviet ancestors are not a national minority and have no rights. In turn, this statement is not supported by anything and is generally formulated rather cryptically:

“Latvia recognized as criteria for an individual belonging to a national minority… the historical connection of a particular national minority with Latvia”.

What is it?! What does “Latvia recognized” mean? When and by whom was it done?

These formulations call into question the competence and sanity of judges. But, apparently, the sanity of a “concrete” judge is not as important as his “historical connection with Latvia”. Even though it hasn’t been proven.

Below are excerpts from the response of the Constitutional Court:

Article 114 of the Constitution provides for the recognition and observance of the values and rights of national minorities. Accordingly, the state, in accordance with Article 114 of the Constitution, is obliged to respect and guarantee the rights of persons belonging to national minorities to preserve and develop their identity, preserving and developing the language of the national minority, as well as its ethnic and cultural identity…

Latvia has recognized as criteria for belonging to a national minority, inter alia, cultural, religious and linguistic differences, citizenship and the historical connection of a particular national minority with Latvia. In addition, it is necessary to distinguish between the historical Russian national minority and the migrants who arrived during the Soviet occupation and their descendants. The possibility of using the right included in Art. 114 of the Constitution, may also be extended to Soviet-era migrants who did not acquire Latvian citizenship. That is, if a person permanently residing in Latvia identifies himself with a minority historically residing in the territory of Latvia, he can use the rights contained in Art. 114 of the Constitution.

The application states that the applicants belong to the Russian ethnic minority and that the monument located in the Victory Park is essential for the preservation of their ethnic culture. According to the Applicants, the victory in the Second World War is an integral part of the identity of Russian culture, in connection with which the monument located in Victory Park represents a part of Russian ethnic culture and ethnic identity.

However, the Applicants did not substantiate their belonging to the historical Russian national minority and the fact that any of the rights included in Art. 114 of the Constitution. That is, the application does not provide a legal justification for the fact that in a particular situation from Art. 114 of the Constitution the Applicants have the right to demand the preservation of the monument located in the Victory Park. At the same time, no confirmation can be extracted from the Application that the Contested Norm would lead to infringement of the Applicants’ fundamental rights contained in Art. 114 of the Constitution.

 1 The demand to cancel the decision of the Riga City Council No. 1511 dated 05/13/2022 and the first part of Art. 4 of the Law “On the prohibition of exhibiting objects glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regimes and their dismantling on the territory of the Republic of Latvia”.

 2 Art. 114 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania states: “Persons belonging to national minorities have the right to preserve and develop their language, ethnic and cultural identity”.

 3 Emphasis in the text is ours.