Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Latvian Nazi unit veterans march

Latvian Legion veterans march in Riga, 16 March 2010
The annual march has become a flashpoint for historical tensions in Latvia

Hundreds of Latvian veterans who fought on the side of Nazi Germany in World War II have held a peaceful march in the capital, Riga.

The veterans laid flowers at Riga's Freedom Monument. Police said about 1,000 people took part.

The annual march is a flashpoint for tension between the veterans and ethnic Russians whose relatives fought against the Nazis.

The veterans fought in a legion commanded by Nazi Germany's Waffen SS.

The city council in Riga had tried to ban this year's march and a counter-demonstration, but protesters from both sides had the ban overturned.

Dozens of people turned out to heckle the veterans during the parade, which was protected by a heavy police presence.

Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. The Nazis took over in 1941 before the Red Army returned in 1944.

The veterans from the Nazi-run units say they were defending their nation against the Soviet invasion, and that they were conscripts, not volunteers.

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