Maiden’s strength

More than two years ago, September 23rd 2019 г. in Riga, Latvian journalist Igor Maiden was brutally beaten at a concert of the Russian rock band Alisa and became disabled

 

The perpetrators have not yet been found and punished. How Igor Maiden lives today and what has changed two years later.

 

What do those who learned about the tragedy think about the situation? Who turned away, did not notice, did not give a damn, and who decided to support?

 

“The cruelty of man is disgusting.” These words belong to the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev. It is about cruelty, indifference and injustice that will be discussed in this article. But not only.

 

For more than two years, having survived a terrible tragedy, having lost the opportunity to work fully, having lost his family, journalist Igor Maiden did not break from the treacherous blow of fate.

 

Every day and every hour he overcomes not only the physical difficulties of a new and in many ways nightmarish life for a once healthy person. He continues to show his power to the world. The strength to remain human and master.

 

Before the tragedy , Igor worked a lot. He was known and respected not only in Latvia, but also far beyond its borders as a talented photographer and journalist. He never clashed with anyone, he loved to travel and take amazing pictures.

 

It is Igor’s photographs that can be seen in the book of phytotherapist Artur Tereshko. Maiden has been published in newspapers: Land of the Baltics, SM, Vesti , Vesti Today, Panorama Latvia , Ekra N ” , other publications.

 

“At one time, we worked together for many years in the Latvian Russian newspaper Vesti Segodnya, the largest Russian-language daily in the European Union, and later the only one , ” says Igor’s colleague Maria Dubinskaya . – Igor is a brilliant professional and a wonderful person, his publications have helped many people and initiated the solution of many acute social and environmental problems. Igor was our main editorial traveler who traveled half the world, visited the most exotic corners of the planet; I have, of course, also visited Russia, from where I invariably brought the most interesting reports and interviews .

 

Igor loved his work, loved life, people, his family.

 

could only admire his rich , beautiful life and creativity .

 

After that terrible day, a new reality of an almost dead person came. From the heaviest blows to the head, Igor became a disabled person of the 1st group. It is now impossible for him to work as before. The wife is gone.

 

fatal concert

 

On September 23, 2019, the fatal concert of “Alisa” in Riga became fatal for Maiden .

Igor loved rock. He even took a pseudonym in honor of the British band Iron Maiden. Therefore, when the musicians of Alisa , led by the permanent leader Konstantin Kinchev , arrived on tour in Riga, the journalist received an editorial assignment with great pleasure and went to work at the concert. Previously, he agreed to shoot the show with the director of the concert and theater agency Art Ritmi Olga Dain.

 

As it often happens at the performances of well-known and not so well-known groups, program organizers negotiate with journalists the conditions for their work during the performance of artists. This time, too, the organizers set the condition – it is allowed to shoot only three songs near the stage, and then you can shoot wherever you want. Igor did just that.

 

“With” Art Ritmi agreed that I could, standing at the stage, shoot during the first three songs, the journalist recalls. – From the very beginning there was an inexplicable conflict. When the third song started, a security guard began to pester me to stop filming, since only the first two songs are allowed to be filmed. This conflict has been resolved.”

 

What was this guard? And here is an interesting question. The Alisa group brought their guards from St. Petersburg, the organizers of the concert took guards from the Riga security company DEFENDER , and the guests were placed at the disposal of the Riga company. During the concert, it was impossible to distinguish one from the other.

 

“ I photographed the first three songs near the stage, and then began to move deeper into the hall, changed the lens and stood near the sound console, from where I continued to shoot what was happening on the stage. I stand, I take pictures, I don’t touch anyone , – Igor Maiden tells his colleague, correspondent Novye Izvesti by Maria Dubinskaya , who spoke on the pages of this publication in support of the injured journalist. – It would seem that all agreements have been observed and are being implemented , but then “ real madness” occurs .

 

“ Suddenly, Kinchev’s wife emerges from the darkness, literally jumps on me, trying to snatch the camera. I tell her wait, wait, it’s all right, and put the camera away. But she does not seem to hear me, she starts waving her hands at the guards. Like , run here, run, and these bullies immediately rushed at me from all sides , ” Igor shares his memory .

 

“ The journalist tried to explain to the woman that he had an agreement, but an immediate and eloquent answer followed: “ Yes, I don’t care who and what you agreed with there, ” exclaimed the wife of the rock star, ”writes Maria Dubinskaya.

 

Then Igor Maiden is led along the corridor of the Palladium concert hall, and then beaten. One of the guards even bit the journalist on the neck. Igor falls to the floor and receives a heavy blow to the head.

 

“At some point, I fell. He lay on the floor, bleeding. There was a pool of blood. Blood flowed from everywhere: from the ears, eyes, nose … I really felt and understood that I was dying. I saw everything that those who “returned” describe: the corridor, how I leave along it … ”, – Igor told me the details of the state of emergency, from which it’s just chill on the skin ,” continues Maria Dubinskaya .

 

Igor’s friends, who conducted their own investigation, describe the events as follows:

“Having worked at the stage, Igor and his friends continued to watch the concert. He took some pictures from the hall. The wife of the leader and soloist of the Alisa group, Konstantin Kinchev, ran up to him and began to demand that the journalist leave. Maiden could not understand what was the matter.

 

Then she called the guard for help, the director of the group appeared, and other guards also came. Then the head of security approached him and called him into his room. There were no witnesses to the conversation, but Igor returned to the hall again. It became clear that it was better to leave. When Igor Maiden was about to leave, he was pushed aside by a group of people in dark clothes, he was dragged into the corridor, and there an employee of a security company … bit Igor on the neck. They tried to take away his bag with a camera, pushed and shoved him. A few minutes later, someone unknown from behind hit the journalist on the head. Maiden lost consciousness and fell. He did not see the attacker’s face . Then he came to his senses.”

 

Friends took Igor Maiden to the police station, where a statement was made in accordance with all the rules, the police saw a bite mark. Friends also called an ambulance. But the doctors could not understand whether it was necessary to take the victim to the hospital. We decided it would work.

 

At about half past one at night, when friends brought Igor home, he could hardly speak. And he couldn’t explain what happened. But friends reassured him: the ambulance doctors examined him and said that there was nothing to worry about. An hour later he became very ill, his wife called the second ambulance, which, fortunately, arrived in five minutes.

 

Then the journalist was finally taken to the Gailezers hospital. If the first ambulance had taken him there, then, most likely, he would not have had to do a very complicated operation and suck out an extensive hematoma. And if the second ambulance had brought him to Gailezers half an hour later, medicine would have been powerless … “.

 

Two years have passed. We emphasize again, we repeat again! Today, almost all questions of this tragedy, which deprived a talented person of a full-fledged life, remain unresolved: have the culprits been found? Who will be held accountable? How did Konstantin Kinchev and his entourage react to the fate of the journalist who suffered while working at the Alisa concert? How did your colleagues and authorities behave? How does Igor Maiden live now? Who shared his misfortune, and who passed by or spat frankly?

 

And perhaps the most important question. Who will help Igor Maiden?

 

Latvian “Pinkertons” are fooling their heads

 

About the “efforts” of the Riga detectives to solve the “most difficult” case, as they say, “neither in a fairy tale … nor with a pen” to describe. After talking with Igor’s friends and the acting lawyer, one cannot avoid a simple version: by hook or by crook they are trying to “bury” the case, which means that the perpetrators are not punished.

 

“ We began to work actively in the interests of the investigation, but , unfortunately, we did not see, to put it mildly, a special mutual interest,” says Mikhail Chernousov , the victim’s lawyer who joined the case . – Initially, the investigation was completely closed from us and did not provide any information at all.

 

When we repeatedly began to ask verbally and in writing why the case was dragging on , why there was no suspect , we were simply answered that an investigation was underway .

 

For example, despite our repeated requests, a confrontation with the head of security was completely denied to us without explanation. Even when we installed it ourselves and named it to the investigator and prosecutor. Those. There was no confrontation with the head of security, who had bitten the victim and must know the attackers.

 

We found witnesses who were at this concert, who saw something and filmed on their phones. They asked the investigators to interview witnesses in the presence of the victim’s lawyer. Two witnesses were interrogated, but without a lawyer.

 

The investigation was not interested in other witnesses of the incident, whom we established ourselves. And already well-known witnesses were really interrogated again without the victim’s lawyer (and we asked for a second interrogation in the presence of a lawyer), which also raises suspicions about the pressure exerted on these witnesses.

 

One of the key issues is related to the qualification of this criminal case.

At our request, the investigator held a confrontation with Olga Dain ( the administrator of the company that organized the concert of this group), but her questioning was conducted one-sidedly and we were not allowed to ask the necessary questions. The impression was that Olga was pressured to deny the fact that Igor was present at the concert as a journalist.

 

Causing grievous bodily harm to a person performing professional duties, incl. journalist, qualify as a more serious crime with more serious responsibility for the perpetrator.

 

Igor informed the administrator, Olga Dine, in advance that he would be at the concert as a journalist, agreeing this verbally, by SMS and making an announcement in the media.

 

The administrator let Igor into the concert with photo equipment , without entrance tickets, with two assistants. However, later the administrator began to testify to the police that Igor was at the concert as a private person, and not as a journalist. And the investigator refuses our demand to reclassify the act to the second part, as committed against a journalist. Obviously, to mitigate responsibility for the culprit.

 

For a long time, the qualification was in accordance with Article 125 of Part 1 of the Criminal Law of Latvia. We demanded to retrain for part 2. item 1 (associated with professional activities). We were denied by both the police and the prosecutor’s office. However, as a result of our constant demands, they recently retrained, but only for part 2. p. 5 (the crime was committed by a group). This is already something, but the identity of the suspects has not been identified and the investigation stubbornly rejects the professional activities of a journalist, and these are important aggravating signs. When it comes to court, we will prove it!

 

We insist that we are talking about infliction of grievous bodily harm. We believe that the crimes were committed at the moment when the victim was performing his professional duties, which means that the actions of the offender fall under Part 2, Art. 125 of the Criminal Code of Latvia.

 

There are many examples from which the impression arises, indeed, heavy. Taken together, this raises doubts about the objectivity of the investigation and suspicion of deliberate red tape.

 

There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are not giving up.”

 

What are the motives of such “zeal” of the Latvian “Pinkertons” – it is still difficult to say. A version was put forward that the police did not even act on purpose, but were inactive slowly . The suspicion is this: perhaps the police themselves work in a security company. It’s not a secret for anyone that often police officers, since their salaries are low, after duty work part-time in security firms. This is a known practice. This is a question for the leadership of the police. There is no answer yet, just as there are no culprits.

 

There were other versions.

 

Someone unequivocally “reminded” that Maiden was a Russian-speaking journalist and saw in this the reason not only for the investigative red tape, but also, in fact, for the tragedy itself.

Indeed, what is the motive of the villains? Why was it necessary “for no reason, for nothing” to brutally beat a completely harmless person? The question is still unanswered.

 

Maybe, indeed, Maiden was beaten because he spoke Russian, wrote in Russian? We believe that today it is impossible to completely exclude such a version.

 

But even if they were beaten for some other reason, then nothing prevents us from admitting the version that the case of “some Russian journalist” should be investigated, which means that a person in Latvia should be punished because of “some Russian paparazzi”, perhaps someone, well, very much out of hand. Is this not the reason for the sluggish “disease” of the investigation, stubbornly striving for a lethal outcome of the case?

 

One way or another, but the result of the “titanic” work of some “valiant” representatives of the state police of Latvia is evident. He is not. And it’s been gone for two years.

The prospects for a long and tedious struggle with a confidently slipping law enforcement machine are depressing, first of all, because the material aspect of the life of a person who suddenly became disabled depends on the outcome of this unequal battle, first of all.

The culprit will not be found, and there will be no opportunity to receive monetary compensation.

And it is extremely important. First of all, to save the life, health and treatment of the victim. Money is needed for medicines, for rehabilitation measures, and so on and so forth.

 

The treatment of Igor Maiden has already cost a tidy sum, more money will be required. If the culprit is named, he will have to pay all expenses. Perhaps this explains the position of the security company, and the position of the organizers of the concert, and the position of “Alice”.

 

There is no help from the state, albeit a Russian-speaking, but still a citizen of Latvia, but what about the public?

 

Initially, in this matter, the eyes of many who sympathize with the fate of the victim, of course, turned to a very significant and not yet faded star in the sky of Russian rock. The hope that Kostya Kinchev, a musician and a person, will not pass by the tragedy of Igor Maiden sincerely seemed to many the most promising. Let’s talk right away. It wasn’t so much about money.

 

Who are you now, Kostya Kinchev?

 

And here in general Kostya Kinchev? What about “Alice”? And here is the faithful wife of the “mega star”, Mrs. Alexandra Panfilova? Indeed, what about? Did they even know what happened?

 

Anything can happen at rockstar concerts. No one is immune from the actions of hooligans in ordinary life. It’s like that.

 

Nevertheless, Maiden’s friends decided to try their luck and disturb the gentlemen of the musicians and their entourage. There were several reasons.

 

Firstly, Igor Maiden loved the work of Konstantin Kinchev.

 

“I have been a fan of Alisa since 1985, from the first album Energy. I must be one of the oldest alisomans in Latvia! More precisely, he was , ”recalls the journalist.

Secondly, but perhaps in reality, firstly, an appeal to Kinchev and his entourage could help the investigation.

 

A huge number of spectators, including the notorious “Army of Alice”, the fans accompanying the group on tour, filmed the concert on their phones. The records, which could have been accessed by the participants in the conflict, were of great value to the investigation.

Without a doubt, if Konstantin Kinchev needed to call for help to his loyal subjects, the response would not be long in coming.

 

Alisa is a Soviet and Russian rock band formed in 1983 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). I started with songs that clearly reflected the turning point of the late eighties. The times were stormy.

 

“Alice” at that time was at the peak of popularity. It was under her wing that the phenomenon of a “fan club” first arose in Russia, and a spontaneous and huge one at that. But it did not arise on its own.

 

The idea of creating a fan club “Army” Alice ” officially belongs to Konstantin Kinchev himself. He announced in the media that a club of fans of “Alisa” was being created.

 

The idea fell on prepared soil. There were a lot of fans all over the country, they communicated with each other and had long been ready to unite, as football, hockey and other sports fans unite.

 

First – young people, hungry for change. Then, when the main change happened, and the Soviet Union collapsed, I had to look for new topics.

 

For almost thirty years of his creative path, Kinchev tried a seemingly too diverse theme of his works.

From dense pagan motifs, tunes of pseudo-Russian patriotism bordering on nationalism and sliding anti-Semitic themes to the image of a kind of almost canonical Orthodox “rock regent”.

 

It is not surprising that the most diverse audience has nailed to the “Alice’s Army”: from idealists and aesthetes to punks, skinheads, Nazis and other controversial but determined admirers.

 

That is why the version about the participation of any of the fans in the attack on the journalist was not initially excluded. Representatives of the “Army of Alice” have long become famous for their far from peaceful actions. Suffice it to recall at least the Cherepovets scandal. It happened on October 19, 2019. Some completely distraught fans thought of lighting fires in the hall. The place to put on a fire show! The OMON had to intervene. A skirmish began, the performance had to be interrupted, more than 20 people were dragged out of the hall.

 

In the case of Maiden, there was only hope for Kinchev . More precisely, to their own investigation of the leadership of “Alisa”, which the leader of the group could, if desired, initiate, as well as he could make an appeal to help the official investigation in finding the perpetrators.

 

There was another completely harmless and, as it may seem to someone, completely useless topic.

 

“It would be great,” Igor’s comrades-in-arms dreamed, “if Kinchev personally would at least morally support the journalist who did not just come to take pictures from the Alisa concert, but masterfully and, more importantly, work with love on the reportage, and his almost killed and made disabled. And they weren’t wrong. Once Igor lamented in his hearts:

 

And, of course, I think that he could have supported me a hundred times already: hold on, guy, it happens, hold on! »

 

With all these ideas-requests, Maiden’s friends and journalists turned to Konstantin Kinchev, his wife, the band’s management and the fan club members who were present at the concert.

 

Do not believe it, but the result of all calls is more than zero. The result is strongly negative.

 

“Mega-rock star” Kostya Kinchev, together with his leadership of “Alisa”, preferred to simply remain silent. Not even a couple of words of support followed.

 

“ The director of the Alisa group, of course, knows about what happened. As soon as I came out of the coma and returned home, they called him in front of me and told me about what had happened to me. But there was no reaction. Into the bushes, into the bushes!” the journalist shared.

 

Indeed, it is one thing to throw high-flown Orthodox maxims in public space, and another thing to do things. It is one thing to earnestly chant the famous “We are together” in front of the crowd, it is another thing in real life to confirm the words uttered from the stage with deeds. Feel the difference.

 

Meanwhile, the wife of Konstantin Kinchev, Mrs. Alexandra Panfilova, together with the representatives of the fan club, literally went on the offensive.

 

Fans to appeal through the social. networks responded. And in response, a deliberate lie was received. Allegedly, the journalist was wandering around the hall drunk and under the influence of drugs.

 

Let’s think: why do these people lie together? Each individual “fighter” could avoid a direct answer: I don’t know, I didn’t see it, I didn’t pay attention.

 

Their version: anyone in a fit of noble indignation could hit a journalist who behaved inappropriately.

 

The fact that this looks like a conspiracy, the “fighters” obviously do not think. They also don’t think about the fact that the doctors who took Maiden in the Gailezers know for sure that there was no alcohol and drugs in his blood.

 

Alexandra Panfilova generally answered very specifically. So that no one has any thoughts, thoughts about sympathy or support for a journalist.

 

Officially commenting on the article by Maria Dubinskaya in Novye Izvestia, the wife, noting that the author of the material should look deeper into the situation, said:

 

“After studying the publication dated 13.04. 2021 г. in the Novye Izvestia newspaper under the loud title “Riga journalist, brutally beaten at the Alisa concert became disabled”, we can give only one official comment: everything voiced by the victims is an absolute lie. Starting with the attribution of strange statements to Konstantin Kinchev. And further in the text. I can only add that if “a Riga journalist was bitten by a security guard”, and a Riga journalist, despite his grave condition, remembers what happened in such detail, he has a great opportunity to make a claim against the biter.”

 

Maiden’s strength

 

We talked to Igor Maiden and asked him a few simple questions:

 

In these two years after the tragedy, who helped and who passed by?

 

– Wife , Svetlana Markova, turned away – still in the hospital. P after I had another operation – getting up and putting a plate in my head to give the skull a natural look, it seems, the third one. My wife just said that she “didn’t sign up to be a nurse”, got up and left the room while I was unconscious . After the operation, my wife pulled out my keys to the apartment from my bag: they say, that’s it, figure it out, how you can or can’t – don’t care … although even then, sorry, I could only go to the toilet and learned to walk later…

 

–– How did the Union of Journalists of Latvia react?

 

Yes, it’s just a joke. They quickly turned away. They said something like this: we are doing other things. We will not support you, sorry. We have neither the strength nor the means for this. Indeed, they have other things to do. When it comes to supporting some Russian or Belarusian oppositionist who opposes Putin or Lukashenko, against the notorious “dictatorship” – this is where our Union of Journalists is in the forefront. They will immediately start talking about democracy, about supporting the truth-seekers, but they don’t give a damn about their colleagues who really suffered. They just don’t pay attention.

 

Who is supporting you?

 

– I am supported by my friends and fellow journalists, with whom I have worked for many years in a variety of publications, supported by caring people who have learned about my story. Often support came and comes from people from whom I didn’t expect it at all , and not just from close friends .

 

I was also very surprised by the attitude of Konstantin Kinchev himself to what happened at the concert: he knew perfectly well what had happened . Ye mu about it different people told, for example , journalists. But for him, it was as if nothing had happened, because, in his opinion, no one could do anything terrible during the sound of his songs. Since , as he may think, during the sound of his songs , almost grace descends from heaven for everyone … Alas, apparently, it does not always descend and not for everyone …

 

It’s been more than two years, how do you feel now? How do you live?

 

“Of course, it’s better than before. Now I am learning to walk without a stick. I work writing articles. But I write with one hand. The left hand hasn’t worked yet. Previously, of course, he worked with two. I write with my right hand, but every day. I work all the time.

 

And I can’t take pictures yet, because my left hand hasn’t “turned on” yet, and professional equipment can’t be handled with one hand.

 

Have you been prescribed any course of rehabilitation, procedures?

 

– This is not so simple. Doctors say it is necessary to move, engage in rehabilitation, but, unfortunately, there are few specifics. They say that my case is rare, and therefore they still do not understand everything. I myself go to physiotherapists. I have been involved in a variety of sports since the age of eight, and therefore I decided to turn to those specialists who work with athletes. That’s what I’m doing with them for now.

 

Your treatment today is probably very expensive?

 

– True. The costs of treatment and procedures are very high. And I am sincerely grateful to everyone who supports me. Both morally and financially. It helps me a lot. Thanks to such help, I find the strength to work and recover.

 

We told about the tragedy of Igor Maiden to a variety of people. We decided to share the opinions and appeals to Igor Maiden of some of our interlocutors with readers:

 

Roman Zhukov, Soviet and Russian musician, singer, composer, music producer, ex-member of the Mirage group: “ I was struck by this story. Unfortunately, this can happen anywhere. Even at a concert, even on the street … What then? Life, almost after death, requires incredible efforts. Igor is young. And I, first of all, wish him good health and a speedy recovery. I wish you to remain the same strong spirit, not to give up and continue to work, write, live. Hold on, Igor!

 

Igor Levin, author and performer, soloist of the Vladimir group and the Butyrka group, working in the Russian chanson genre: “ Igor, you survived! And this, I think, is the main thing. Thank God! You are a strong guy and you were able to prove your strength. Looking at you makes us stronger too. I am very glad that there are those next to you who did not pass by. I am sure that there will be more of them, and each will give you a piece of their warmth, support you, and will not let you become limp when it is difficult. I’m sure you can handle it. Go boldly towards your goal. I wish you great creative success, joy and a speedy recovery.”

 

Valentin Evkin, photojournalist, participant in the liquidation of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant: “ In my half-century that I hold a camera in my hands, of course, I had to shoot hundreds of various mass events both in Russia and abroad. Anything happened. Our profession is one of those that involves a high degree of risk. That is why it is very important that a special attitude is formed on the part of the state and society to situations where people have suffered while performing their professional duty. The tragedy of Igor Maiden clearly confirms that in his case it is still very far from the desired result. There is only one thing left – not to pass by a sudden disaster. Help and support each other.”

 

Nikita Dzhigurda, Soviet and Ukrainian theater and film actor, film director, screenwriter, songwriter, People’s Artist of the Chechen Republic, Honored Artist of the Kabardino-Balkarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic: “ Unfortunately, I don’t know this journalist, but, of course, the situation is out of the ordinary . There are tragedies… Alas, the fate of people is programmed so that it is very difficult to get out of it. I want to wish Igor to pray and believe that everything that is done in life is not without reason. Tragedies are given to us in order to rethink life and realize that this is a multi-level game, that the earthly game plan is only a part of the great cosmic game, and one will not become embittered within oneself. Through war, through insight and expansion of consciousness, improving oneself, to improve this world. Good health, faith in your own strength, in the Divine power. Prayer and meditation are salvation .”

 

Harry Moorei, President of the European Center for Human Rights (Austria), lawyer , human rights activist: “ First of all, I would like to note that my colleagues and I have great respect for Igor Maiden. Maiden’s tragedy is not only a human tragedy, Igor’s family, relatives and friends. I am convinced that this is a tragedy of the country, modern Latvia.

For many years, Igor devoted his profession, in which he is in love and in which he achieved a lot. He contributed a lot to the development of civil society in Latvia, including the issues of observance of human rights not only in Latvia, but also in the countries of the European Union. It is very difficult for us, human rights defenders, to perceive what is happening in Latvia today. We remember Latvia 20 years ago and, comparing with today, we come to the conclusion that the country is moving towards a totalitarian state. The indifference of the Latvian state and public structures of Latvia to the fate of Igor Maiden is not the only example when society loses its human appearance.

 

Latvian Journalist Andrei Yakovlev sent a letter to the UN Secretary General in connection with the persecution of Russian-speaking journalists in the republic for their professional activities. Further, the State Security Service of Latvia summons for interrogation five journalists who collaborated with the Russian media. All this happens with the tacit consent of the Latvian society, including the Union of Journalists of the country.

 

However, there are people in the country who are not silent. For example, an international online conference dedicated to the topic of repressions against Russian journalists in Latvia was held on the platform of the Russian Union of Latvia. Various topics were discussed, as well as the work of journalists who give an objective assessment of the processes in the Latvian society.

 

I also remember the speech of Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, who called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to prepare a report on the situation with the criminal prosecution of fourteen Latvian journalists who collaborated with the Russian media. And this is happening in a country that has long been part of the European Union, where they constantly declare the importance of respecting human rights, freedom of speech. This is happening in Latvia.

 

Further, a Latvian court sentenced journalist and defender of the rights of Russian-speaking citizens Yuri Alekseev to one year and two months in prison. We call the conditions in which Latvian independent journalists work today “front-line”.

I recall the story of Andrei Khramtsov, who filmed a story about a neo-Nazi torchlight procession in Latvia, where the slogan “Latvia for Latvians” was chanted.

 

However, this moment was absent in the published material, which suggests the idea of censorship. Commenting on this situation, an activist of the non-citizens Union Union of Non-Citizens, Alexander Gopenko, expressed the opinion that torchlight processions in Latvia are financed from the state budget.

 

In addition, there are media in Latvia that are supported by the state, including financial ones, which work in the “right” direction. For example, “Latvian Radio 4”, broadcasting in the languages of national minorities, including Russian. Various anti-Russian topics are quite openly voiced on this resource.

 

We turned to the head of the radio station, editor-in-chief Elona Modesova with a request to cover the tragedy of Igor Maiden and, we believe, faced open rudeness. We were told that such topics are not interesting and not relevant for this media. At the same time, I want to emphasize that recently this radio station, apparently for “loyalty to the chosen path”, received from the authorities a brand new studio worth 180 thousand euros – taxpayers’ money. By the way, the same radio station regularly airs stories that talk about Germany as a country that is an example for Latvia.

 

Another important topic. In May 2021, a meeting of the Human Rights Council and the working group on the UN Universal Periodic Review was held in Geneva. How did the participants of this forum assess the situation with observance of human rights in Latvia?

 

First of all, it should be noted the great contribution of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus, Venezuela, whose representatives openly expressed their point of view, with which it is very difficult to disagree.

 

For example, the Russian Federation expressed great concern about the organization in Latvia of regular events justifying Nazism, as well as the situation of representatives of linguistic minorities and persons with the status of “non-citizen”. However, in the opinion of the British representative, Latvia’s commitment to supporting media freedom at home and abroad is an indisputable achievement, and there is a free, democratic press in Latvia. However, the representative of the United States disagreed with this opinion, who expressed concern about issues of media independence and discrimination against a number of minorities. We believe that this is a very important statement also because the position of Russia is traditionally “not perceived” by Latvia, which cannot be said about the attitude towards the position of the United States.

 

Moreover, Russia demanded that Latvian legislation be brought into line with international obligations to combat hate speech and incitement to racial hatred. She demanded that an investigation be carried out and that those responsible for the pressure on the Russian-language media and the persecution of public figures and journalists be brought to justice.

 

Thus, the representatives of the two major powers, Russia and the United States, expressed serious concern about the political and social situation in Latvia and the position of journalists who objectively cover the situation in the Republic of Latvia.

 

In addition, the Russian Federation demanded a ban on the annual meetings in Riga held in memory of the fascist legionnaires of the Wafen SS and strongly condemn any attempt to honor the memory of those who collaborated with the Nazis. The position of the Russian Federation was supported by the representative of Belarus and demanded to revise the state social policy in order to ensure effective social protection of the population, especially the elderly. Proposed to immediately implement the recommendations of the treaty bodies to revise the law on the state language in order to remove any discriminatory restrictions against ethnic minorities.

 

The Russian representative stressed that this law discriminates against representatives of linguistic minorities in matters of employment and interaction with the authorities. He demanded that “non-citizens” be given equal access to solving issues of employment, access to educational services, health care and social security. The US representative demanded to expedite the resolution of issues of restitution of the confiscated property of Jewish communities during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, so far the Latvian authorities have not taken any measures in resolving the issues of restitution, as well as on other issues voiced, including the issues of work of independent journalists in Latvia.

 

I would like to draw attention to the position of the representatives of the Republic of Austria, whose opinion we consider authoritative. Austria demanded to continue work on changing the conditions of detention of citizens in prisons in Latvia. It is this problem that Latvian journalists very often write about, for which they are often persecuted by the authorities. The representative of Spain spoke in solidarity with Austria on this issue, who demanded an increase in financial allocations to penitentiary centers to improve nutrition, sanitary and hygienic conditions for prisoners.

 

The representative of Singapore made a very important proposal to take concrete steps to expand cultural dialogue. And the British representative demanded to expand the scope of competence in the Office of the Latvian Ombudsman.

 

What will be the reaction of Latvia? Will she follow the path of correcting the indicated situation?

 

For our part, we hope that the Latvian authorities will nevertheless make a decision and will not interfere with the legal and objective investigation of the crime committed against Igor Maiden, but, on the contrary, will take all necessary measures to find the perpetrators, thereby proving that Latvia can rightfully called a European country where the rule of law and respect for human rights is not an empty phrase.”

 

So, overcoming a lot of difficulties, for two years now, the innocently injured journalist has been courageously continuing to live, work, and receive treatment. Despite the many problems that he has to solve daily and hourly, Igor remained a very bright, kind and strong person, not at all embittered by fate and the people who awarded him a great test.

 

Igor Maiden continues to show the world not only his own, but also the strength of those who are with him. The power of unity and victory. The strength to be human.

 

R.S. _ _ You can provide financial assistance to Igor Maiden by transferring to his personal account: LV85 PARX 000200605 4008 (when transferring, you must indicate the name and surname, as required in Latvia – Igors Meidens )

 

 

 

Igor Maiden’s phone number is available at the editorial office.

Nikolai Kirillov, especially for “Russian Athens”

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