MOSCOW, November 21 (R-Sport) – A Russia-based hockey league is investigating whether a Latvian military ensemble displayed a swastika-shaped ornament during a recent pregame show in Riga, the league’s vice president said Thursday.
The show, dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Latvian Republic, preceded Dinamo Riga’s 4-3 victory over Russian team Yugra Khanty-Mansiisk on Sunday.
“We didn’t get any complaints from the security department. ... Nevertheless, the league requested the event’s script to make sure there was no subtext there,” Kontintental Hockey League vice president Vladimir Shalaev told R-Sport on Thursday.
While Russia believes that it freed Latvia from the Nazis, many Latvians view the end of the World War II as the start of Soviet occupation. Riga even hosts an annual march to commemorate soldiers who fought on the side of Nazi Germany.
The Russian team’s director said he was not at all pleased to see the “swastika-like” image at the hockey game.
“I’m a Soviet man and my relatives fought and died in the Second World War, so of course any swastika-like image evokes only negative emotions,” Andrei Belmach told R-Sport. “But it’s beyond our competence to look into what this symbol really means. I can’t say for 100 percent what it means in Latvia.”
A Russian football fan was sentenced to seven days in prison on Wednesday for waving a swastika flag at a game last month.