Political persecution

Political persecution
The aim of the Soviet repressive agencies was to isolate actual and potential organisers of resistance and the disaffected, as well as to intimidate the population. From the first weeks of occupation, the most prominent members of the Government of Latvia were arrested and deported or killed, including President Kārlis Ulmanis, 22 members of the government, 32 parliamentary deputies, as well as other political leaders and officers of the armed forces. The most common accusation was „counterrevolutionary activities", in accordance to Article 58 of the Russian SFR criminal code. Citizens of Latvia were also accused of „treason against the fatherland", i.e. activities against the Soviet Union in independent Latvia.

Leading positions in the Interior and State Security Commissariats, Public Prosecution office and the Supreme Court were filled with reliable local underground communists or by experienced officials sent from the USSR (including Latvians from Russia). They were skilled at applying the methods of spying and of torture, developed in the USSR during the 1930s. Significant contributions to the repressive system were activities of secret agents and denunciations by the people.

At least 3,354 criminal cases were initiated in Latvia from 17 June 1940 to 22 June 1941. Some of those arrested were sentenced in Latvia and even executed, as evidenced by mass graves in the Riga Central prison, in Dreiliņi, Stopiņi, Baltezers, Katlakalns, and elsewhere. In late June 1941 several thousand political prisoners were deported to the USSR where the court proceedings and sentencing continued which usually resulted in incarceration or execution.

In total some 26,000 inhabitants of Latvia were directly affected by the 1940-41 political persecutions.