Controversial march commemorates Latvian Waffen SS legionnaires

2017-03-16 16:59:42 GMT2017-03-17 00:59:42(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

RIGA, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Around 2,000 people joined a controversial annual procession that held here Thursday to remember the Latvian soldiers who were drafted to fight on the side of German forces in World War II.

Participants of the procession carried national flags of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as flowers.

The procession, which each year causes serious controversy both in Latvia and abroad, was joined by several parliamentarians from the right-wing National Alliance.

Artis Velss, chief of the public order police, told reporters after the event that in comparison with previous years the number of participants of the controversial march had increased this year, but at the same time the crowd of onlookers had shrunk.

Five arrests were made during the march. Two persons were detained for resisting police orders and three others were held for breaching regulations on meetings, demonstrations and pickets.

Velss noted that the annual demonstration ended peacefully because "people have learned to respect others' rights to express their opinion".

An anti-fascist counter demonstration was called off by organizers.