Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics announced on Thursday that Russian journalist Vladimir Soloviev was declared persona non grata in the country, and Soloviev noted he would discuss with his lawyers to file a lawsuit over the entry ban.
“I made a decision to add Russian citizen extruding to the list of persons regarded as undesirable by the Republic of Latvia. Latvia does not accept glorification of Nazism in any form,” Rinkevics wrote on Twitter.
Earlier this week, Soloviev was widely criticized by Russian media for calling Adolf Hitler “a very brave man” during his tv show broadcast by Rossiya 1. The journalist claims that his words were taken out of context. Critics quote only part of his speech, which distorts the meaning of his point of view.
Responding to the decision, Soloviev said that now it is necessary to think about whom to sue and which court to choose.
“Now we have to think whom we have to sue. Obviously, the minister has not quite sorted out the situation. As I understand, our channel [Rossiya 1] is not broadcast there. He judges by Twitter accounts of [Russian opposition figure Alexey] Navalny’s supporters, not by the real text of the program, in which the surname of Nazi criminal [Adolf] Hitler was mentioned, alongside others,” Soloviev said, reacting to the decision.
The program indeed centered around a “full condemnation of Nazism,” the journalist stressed, expressing the belief that the foreign minister was misled.
“Now we have to decide which court we shall go to. As accusing me, a Jew and an antifascist, of supporting Nazism is an insult to the memory of all my [relatives] who fell victim to Nazis during the war,” Soloviev added, specifying that he would hold consultations with lawyers.
Timur Shafir, the Executive Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists and Vice President of the International Federation of Journalists, condemned Riga‘s decision, saying that it is aimed at forcing out both the Russian language and Russian journalists out of the Latvian information space.
“This is a deliberate pushing out of both the Russian language and Russian journalists from the information space of this country, regardless of their political views, regardless of the media they work in, regardless of what point of view they express,” Shafir told Sputnik.
“This process will take a long time. After removing journalists, they will clean up the internet space. We have already seen examples of this, that penalties are introduced for the use and viewing of Russian content. This process will continue, apparently, until the Baltic information space is finally cleansed of everything that comes from Russian,” Shafir added.