Following the events in Ukraine and Crimea, pro-Kremlin forces have become active in Latvia as well. At the end of February, a socially-political organization was founded in Moscow called the Russian International (RusIntern). Its target countries include Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia and others.
One of the first actions to be performed by this organization was the formation of self-defence units in Crimea. It was done in order to express support for Crimea’s joining of the Russian Federation. This organization promises to defend Russian schools and rights of non-citizens in Latvia. Among the founders of this organization, there is even a non-citizen of Latvia Sergei Malakhovsky, as reported by De facto programme of LTV.
When violence and death reined the streets of Kyiv, a special socially-political organization was formed with help from high-rank Russian officials in Moscow on February 19th. This organization was named RusIntern. It is said to be close to such Russian politicians as Vice-Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin and the head of the Russian Rodina party Aleksey Zhuravlev.
‘I believe this organization was formed in a way that allows it to have strong political backing. The people who are members of this organization have strong backing from Russian special services,’ – says deputy Chief of Latvian Security Police Juris Leitietis.
The name ‘RusIntern’ resembles the ‘Comintern’ communist organization, which was active in the beginning of the previous century and encouraged communists in the world to unite. RusIntern, on the other hand, encourages Russians in the world to unite.
Leaders of RusIntern regularly come forth with statements expressing their concern for Russians in the world, especially those living in countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. Latvia’s representative – Sergei Malakhovky – was present when this organization was formed. He expressed his deep gratitude to Kremlin politicians for this.
The appearance of this organization at this time is no coincidence. The first headquarters of RusIntern were opened in Crimea, where it started with forming self-defence brigades. The organization later promised to help with the issue of Russian passports.
The dossier of the head of RusIntern – Zhuravlev – states that its goal is the creation of complex socially-political structures. In order for this structure to contribute to the expansion of Russia’s influence, the organization has already found people in specific regions – Ukraine, Moldova and Baltic Countries. ‘We have acquired information that they are likely to try become active in Latvia in matters related to defence of interests of national minorities and Russian schools. What is even more important – they will try to get people to leave their homes and take it out to the streets by means of protest acts. This is why we will keep a close eye on activities of this organization,’ – says the head of Latvian Security Police.
One of the first mass gatherings organized by RusIntern in Latvia took place at the Latvian embassy in Moscow. People had gathered there to protest against Latvia’s decision to punish people who deny the fact Latvia was once occupied by the Soviet Union. Attempts were made to make it seem as though Latvia is ruled by a fascist regime.
‘When we look at what is currently happening in Ukraine and Baltic States, we cannot ignore it. We seek way of unification – this is our mission,’ – said Zhuravlev.
Non-citizen of Latvia Sergei Malakhovsky, who had signed the document regarding the foundation of RusIntern, holds military and journalism education. He currently represents anti-fascist organizations and is the head of baltijalv.lv portal.
Estonia has put Malakhovsky on its black list for his activities. Even though his name is not as popular as that of Yakov Pliner or Tatyana Zhdanok, Latvian Security Police keeps a close eye on him. ‘His resourcefulness, intellect and organizational talents should not be underestimated,’ – as SP refers to Malakhovsky.
The main area of interest of Malakhovsky’s activities in Latvia is the defence of Russian schools in Latvia. After nearly a decade of relative silence, this matter is now returning to the headlines. Even though talks regarding the expansion of Latvian language in Russian schools have only begun in the government, radicals are already saying that this means only Russian language lessons and Russian literature will be allowed to be taught in Russian.
Authorities believe one of the main objectives of RusIntern is the use of defiance of Russian organizations in the ruling government in post-Soviet countries.
SP emphasizes – Latvian politicians should keep in mind that it is much easier to make people come out to the streets to protest than it is to make them obey afterwards. The January 13th riots in Riga serve as a prime example.