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Latvian Parliament calls Russia a state sponsor of terrorism

Latvia’s Parliament building in Riga (Alamy/PA)
Latvia’s Parliament building in Riga (Alamy/PA)

Latvia’s Parliament has declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” for attacks on civilians during the war in Ukraine and has urged other countries to follow suit.

MPs adopted a strongly worded statement on Thursday that accuses Moscow of using “suffering and intimidation as tools in its attempts to demoralise the Ukrainian people and armed forces and paralyse the functioning of the state”.

The statement says Latvia’s Parliament “recognises Russia’s violence against civilians in pursuit of political aims as terrorism, recognises Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and calls on other like-minded countries to express the same view”.

It says Russian forces are deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians in the war, including with attacks on a theatre in Mariupol in March, a shopping mall in Kremenchuk in June and a residential area in Odesa in July.

MPs also called on Western countries to reinforce sanctions on Russia and urged fellow members of the European Union to stop issuing tourist visas to citizens of Russia and Belarus.

Sixty-seven members in the 100-seat assembly voted in favour of adopting the statement and 16 abstained, the Parliament said.

Russia Ukraine War Estonia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia Urmas Reinsalu in Kyiv (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP/PA)

Meanwhile, Estonia has decided to bar people from neigbouring Russia with tourist visas from entering the northernmost Baltic country as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.

“Russian citizens’ opportunity to visit Estonia in large numbers or to visit Europe through Estonia is incompatible with the meaning of the sanctions we’ve established,” Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service.

The European Union, of which Estonia is a member, has already banned air travel from Russia after it invaded Ukraine. But Russians can still travel by land to Estonia and take flights to other European destinations.

By imposing the sanction, Estonia wants Russia “to be unable to continue its ordinary international life also at the level of its citizens”, Mr Reinsalu said according to BNS, the region’s main news agency. He added that they had observed “a massive growth in the number of Russian citizens transiting through or arriving in Estonia”.

BNS said exceptions to Thursday’s sanction included Russian citizens with a long-term residence permit; those coming to visit close relatives; workers involved in the international transport of goods and passengers, as well as people entering the country for humanitarian reasons.

The Estonian sanction applies from August 18. Estonia and Russia share a nearly 186-mile long border.