A protest against anti-Semitism in Vienna
A protest against anti-Semitism in Vienna Reuters

A nursery school in Latvia posted a sign last week stating it was “Judenfrei” (free of Jews).

Russian and Latvian media reported that the Pucite School, owned by parliamentarian Imants Paradnieks who has in the past made anti-Semitic statements, posted the sign on the gate at the front entrance of the school on May 6.

The school was in the news in 2012 when it brought in men dressed in Waffen SS uniforms to show the kindergarten class what they called a patriotic lesson, reported the Latvian news website Vesti Segodniya.

According to the Russian news site Regnum, bystanders who saw the sign notified the local police. The sign was reportedly put up on the eve of a visit to Riga by the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was in the area to participate in a march commemorating 70,000 Jews who lived in Latvia and who were murdered before World War II.

Paradnieks reportedly denies any involvement in the incident, and claimed he was sleeping when the sign was put up. He further argued that journalists from a Russian television network were behind the incident in an attempt to stir up a provocation against him.

In March, Latvia’s environment minister was dismissed for defying Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma's ban on ministers attending an annual march by veterans who sided with the Nazis against the Soviets in World War II.

Two years ago, Riga banned the annual March 16 demonstrations, saying said it received applications from eight different organizations wanting to stage demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on the date, but rejected them all.

The Riga city council noted at the time that the restrictions had been imposed to "avoid possible provocations and threats to public security."

Last year, Latvian President Andris Berzins avoided attending a Holocaust memorial ceremony together with visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres.

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