Letter to Councillor Pasternak re pro-Soviet rally

May 5, 2016

it has come to my attention that another large pro-Soviet rally is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 8, at Earl Bales Park. I understand that this event ostensibly is being held to mark the end of World War II, but last year a similar event also displayed deeply troubling aspects.  I was shocked and astonished that any group would come together to celebrate not only the tyranny and oppression of the Soviet Union, but also call for the take-over today of Russia’s independent democratic neighbours, and involve neo-fascist groups. Rhetoric glorifying Soviet oppression, current Russian policy, and Vladimir Putin’s vision of recreating the Soviet Union has no place in Canada. 

A similar rally was held last year.  Large numbers of red Soviet flags were displayed while the stage was decorated with the Soviet era flags of the Baltic countries (among others) which the Soviet Union occupied *illegally* as a result of World War II.   I never thought I would see such an offensive display in Canada!  Western democracies never recognized these occupations as legal and reaffirmed this recognition when the Baltic states were able to restore their independence.  At this rally last year, there were calls to renew the occupation of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, as well as Ukraine and others, These symbols and this speech is entirely unacceptable and represents an affront to the families of Canadians who endured years of terror.

The iron curtain that descended on Europe at the end of the War was a catastrophic tragedy for millions of people. The Soviet Union was responsible for the killing of millions of people and unbearable oppression for many more. The red flags are a symbol of tyranny and should be not on display in our City. Nor should the rhetoric of the Soviet Union or the present regime of Vladimir Putin be given a public podium.

Please act with urgency to rescind this permit and ensure sure this this type of regressive and offensive display is not repeated.  My parents were refugees who fled the brutality and violence of the Soviet army.  My uncle and other relatives were deported to Siberia.  While I do not live in your ward, I am a Torontonian shocked that something like this is possible in our City.  

Dace Veinberga