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Five people detained at Legionnaires' Day events

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The State Police detained five persons during a procession in Riga on March 16 that commemorated the World War II Latvian Legion, as Artis Velss, head of the State Police's Civil Police, told reporters.

Two persons were detained for resisting the police, and the other three for violating the regulations on meetings, processions, and pickets.

Overall, the March 16 events this year have passed remarkably peacefully, said Velss. "The public have learned that people's right to express their opinion has to be respected," he explained.

No such violations that could pose threat to public security occurred today, added Velss.

March 16 - sometimes dubbed "Legionnaires' Day" - is a date that always causes controversy and sparks a wave of negative press in international media.

Though March 16 is not included on the nation's official calendar of events several hundred people always turn out to parade through the center of Riga and pay tribute to Latvian soldiers who served in the Latvian Waffen SS Legion and fought on the side of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Controversy inevitably follows with participants saying they are honoring freedom fighters and opponents accusing the event of rehabilitating and glorifying fascism.

A less controversial commemoration of those who fought in the Latvian Legion also takes place on March 16 at the regimental cemetery in Lestene.

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