STALKER ZONE— On September 8, the Riga District Court confirmed the decision of the Vidzeme District Court that human rights activist and scientist Aleksandr Gaponenko committed a criminal offence by spreading anti-fascist statements. For these “crimes”, the court punished the scientist with 10 months in prison. He was awarded a suspended sentence and two years of probation.
This is a landmark decision, since previously anti-fascists in Latvia were persecuted only by the secret police and they did it surreptitiously. The decision of the Riga Court of September 8 means that the state has resorted to institutional means of reprisals against anti-fascists. Indirectly, the court’s decision recognised that fascism is a key element of the state ideology, an element that cannot be criticised under the threat of criminal punishment.