Latvian Parliament declares Russia a “terrorist state” and calls for an end to visas

Riga, Aug 11 The Latvian Parliament on Thursday adopted a declaration calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and encouraging other countries to adopt similar initiatives, and also called on the European Union (EU) to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian and Belarusian citizens.

The declaration was approved by the deputies of the Saeima by 67 votes in favor and none against, while the parliamentarians of the opposition social democratic party Harmony (S) abstained in the vote.

The statement cites the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the actions of the Russian armed forces in that country as the main reason for condemning Russia as a “terrorist state.”

The text also underlines Russia’s “prolonged support for terrorist regimes and organizations, as well as their financing.” Russia is the largest arms supplier to the Assad regime in Syria and has carried out attacks on sovereign countries, including the poisoning of the Skripal family in the UK and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 that killed 298 people.

Latvian lawmakers recall “the constant targeting of civilians by Russian troops, including the deliberate attack on a theater in Mariupol that killed around 600 people, missile strikes on a residential area near Odessa that killed at least 21 and an attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk that killed 19 civilians.”

The statement also cites a missile attack on port facilities in Odessa a day after an agreement to allow the export of grain from that Ukrainian town came into force.

Regarding tourist visas, the Latvian Embassy in Moscow has already stopped issuing them to Russian citizens except for people attending funerals of a close relative.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Twitter on August 9 that Russian tourism to the EU should end.

“Let’s stop issuing tourist visas for Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” wrote Kallas, who said that once air traffic to and from Russia is suspended, closest neighbors like Estonia, Finland and Latvia , which have border crossings, are the ones who see an increase in visa requests from Russians who want to travel to the Schengen zone.

Latvia has also seen an influx of Russians, including media workers, fleeing repression and persecution, and have moved their operations to the Baltic country.

The critical channel TV Rain recently started broadcasting from Riga and has already been accused by some Latvians on social media for showing insensitivity to how Latvians perceived the occupation of their country between 1940 and 1991. EFE


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