Install Puppet Government in Latvia, Stalin Hails Himself as Liberator
|October 31, 1939
USSR Supreme Council calls fears of
Baltic sovietization "all nonsense"
|The general tone and contents of Molotov's official
declarations now underwent a marked change. If prior to the Soviet-Finnish war
the Russian Foreign Commissar still hoped for a compliant attitude of Finland
and, on October 31, 1939, at a meeting of the USSR Supreme Council declared
that "all nonsense about sovietizing the Baltic countries is only in the
interest of our common enemies and of all anti-Soviet provocateurs", he,
after peace with Finland, did not hesitate to allude, in his speech of March
25, 1940, the Kremlin's intention of annexing the Baltic States. Among other
things he stated that ". . . the execution of the pacts progressed
satisfactorily and created conditions favourable for a further improvement of
the relations between Soviet Russia and these States."
||Molotov was right. In the few months, during which the land,
air and naval forces of the Red Army had Installed themselves in their new
bases in Latvia, circumstances took a favourable turn for the realization of
the further plans of the Kremlin. The ports of Liepaja and Ventspils were in
the hands of the Soviets. The outlet of the Gulf of Riga was within the compass
of their long-range guns at Pitrags. Each Russian military unit in Latvia
had a NKVD section attached to it which was taking up contact with the illegal
communist party in the country and beginning to put into effect the Serov
Instruction No. 001223. With a view to extending the net of agents, USSR
requested and received permission for the admission to Latvia of 300
"technicians", allegedly for construction work of the Soviet bases. No doubts
ever existed about the real nature of these men.
||Immediately after Molotov's above-mentioned speech, the Soviet
press started attacks, in March and April, on the Latvian Government and there
appeared floods of proclamations inviting to overthrow the Government. The next
phase was marked by a series of strikes in Riga and Liepaja, inspired by the
NKVD, which however failed to develop into a general strike. Thereupon the
Soviet Legation officially rebuked the "irresponsible element which spoils the
good neighbourly relations".
Stalin/Molotov concoct and provoke
incidents which they use to justify Baltic invasion under "mutual assistance
|However, seeing the successful advance of the German army in
Belgium and France where it moved from victory to victory, Stalin decided to
wait no longer and to show his hand. On May 28, 1940, the Lithuanian
Minister in Moscow received a note from Molotov which dealt with the alleged
kidnapping of two Soviet soldiers in Vilna. Referring to its pacts, the
Lithuanian Government suggested to clear up this matter by a mixed
Soviet-Lithuanian commission. Moscow rejected this proposal and, on the day
after the fall of Paris, on June 14 delivered an ultimatum to Lithuania, in
which the Baltic States were accused of conspiracy against the USSR. As early
as June 15, the Red Army occupied Lithuania, and shot, on the same day, some
Latvian frontier guards in order to provoke an incident.
Estonia and Latvia receive ultimatums and
|On June 16, similar ultimata, demanding the establishment of
Soviet-approved governments and the right of passage for troops from the USSR,
were received by Latvia and Estonia. The answer had to be given within six
hours. These ultimata were an act of brutal violation, being an infringement of
the stipulations of the mutual assistance pact and non-aggression treaties.
However, being aware of their complete isolation and inability to fight against
the predominance of the Red Army, both Latvia and Estonia accepted the
dictation of the Kremlin.
Red Army invades Latvia
|What followed was a political farce staged by Moscow. On June
17, motorized units of the Red Army invaded Latvian territory, coming from the
east and south (Lithuania), occupied bridges, post, telegraph and broadcasting
offices. Not provided for in the ultimatum was the arrival, in Riga, of Deputy
Commissar Vishinski who introduced himself to State President Ulmanis as a
special envoy of the Soviet Government. On June 19, he once more called on the
President, handing over an enumeration of the members of the new Cabinet which,
he assured, had been approved by Moscow and which was unalterable. Actually,
this list had been drawn up by Vetrov, second secretary at the Soviet Legation
in Riga, who was Vishinski's political advisor.
||To conceal for a while the true designs, the new "People's
Government" consisted of politically naive and insignificant pressmen, with A.
Kirchensteins, an ambitious veterinary surgeon and professor of microbiology,
who had for several years been in Vetrov's "influence sphere", as Premier.
Kremlin installs puppet government in Latvia, Stalin honors
himself as liberator
Opposition candidates deported to Russia
|When the new pro-Soviet Government took over office on June
20, "processions of thanksgiving" were organized in honour of Stalin, the
"liberator", and the "victims of the plutocrats terror" - members of the
illegal communist party, arrested for subversive activity - were released from
prison. They totalled in Latvia to some 300. On July 5 a decree was issued,
announcing new parliament elections according to the Latvian Constitution of
1922 which provided that every 100 voters could put up a list of their
candidates. In order to participate in the elections with a list of their own,
the Latvian democratic parties joined into the block of the National Committee,
worked out their programme and duly informed Vishinski about it. But already
on July 9, by order of V. Lacis, Minister of Internal Affairs, the electoral
board of the National Committee was closed by the police while its most
conspicuous candidates were arrested and deported to Russia.
Elections staged and rigged
|Moscow had decided that the election of the puppet parliament,
in all three Baltic States should take place simultaneously, on July 14-15,
1940, and with only one, the "Working People's Union's" list, approved Moscow.
There were only bolsheviks and their left fellow-travellers on that list.
Although a considerable number of Baltic citizens boycotted the elections by
abstaining from voting or dropping invalidated voting cards at the polls, the
TASS news agency announced that in each of the three republics 95-97% of the
electorates had voted.
||According to documents and the material of the electoral
commissions, found after the Red Army was repulsed, the outcome of the
voting proved to be a simple falsification by the Moscow emissaries. Also
Paleckis, President of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, made the statement at a
secret meeting that only 16 to 18 percent of valid voting cards were submitted
at the polls.
||One proof of the staging by the Kremlin of the Baltic
parliamentary elections and "legislative" activity is the complete
synchronization of these procedures. Another is provided by the fact that the
first parliamentary sessions were arranged in theatres and initiated by slogans
and resolutions which were passed in chorus. Every single part, performed by
the "people's representatives", was prearranged and elaborated on the programme
which was worked out by the Soviet Legations and no delegate was given
permission to speak outside the order laid down in advance. The votes were not
scrutinized and not only did the official deputies vote, but the whole
assembly, among which were a great many specially invited Soviet citizens, took
part in the voting by a raising of hands. The deputies had been warned that any
member withholding his vote or counter-voting would be taken charge of by the
Latvian puppet government petitions Stalin to join the
|The three single-list Diets had to meet on July 21 and to vote
on a multitude of sovietization and nationalization decrees. Not the least
modifications or amendments were allowed to be made by the three puppet
parliaments. Although the new Premier Kirchensteins, the legalized central
organ of the Latvian Bolshevik party "Cina" and the rest of the
communist-controlled press had been unanimous in assuring during the election
period that all rumours about the incorporation of Latvia were nothing but
provocations and that the "People's Parliament" would strictly observe the
stipulations of the pact of October 5, 1939, one of the first items of the
"Saeima's" agenda, much to the surprise of the voters, was the proclamation of
the Latvian Soviet Republic and the "unanimous" resolution of the assembly to
beg Stalin to include Latvia as a federal republic in the Soviet Union. In
his raptures with these successful performances Vishinski quite forgot that
according to the Latvian Constitution this question could only be decided by a
referendum. Nor did the other two emissaries of the Kremlin, Zhdanov at Tallin
and Dekanozov at Kaunas, keep this fact in mind either.