On November 5, several buildings in the center of Riga placed the advertising billboards (agency VISUAL MEDIA) containing propaganda of violence and war. One image featured a map of Azerbaijan painted in the state flag with the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh included in Azerbaijan with the title “Karabakh is Azerbaijan”. Another poster showed injured children with the caption “Armenia, stop targeting civilians”.
The billboards were spotted by locals early in the morning. With the help of Armenian community of Latvia, they were taken down in a few hours.
Advertising agency stated that they were not responsible for the content of the billboards. However, they confirmed the images before placing them all over the city.
The case took another level when the Armenian Ambassador in Baltic States, Tigran Mkrtchyan, contacted various officials and deputies to start investigation considering the law of Latvia that prohibits advertisements containing discrimination and incitement to hatred against representatives of the Armenian people.
However, Azerbaijani media released a video coverage to show the posters hanging in the center of Riga. There was nothing about the fact that these ads was taken down.
Another step forward in this case – a collective letter from Armenian Diaspora in Latvia addressed to all official institutions:
The current situation has shown that by paying a certain amount I can shape public opinion in my favor, while using the false information that has no evidence. The opinion of a small group of representatives of Azerbaijan in Latvia, who do not adhere to the official position of Latvia – neutrality, and publicly present aggressive, insulting and false statements, has been posted on a public display.
How can such an open incitement of interethnic hatred, which can lead to riots and ethnic bullying, be allowed in a democratic society? Why can I be publicly defamed while being in my homeland (which is also a violation of the advertising law)? Why does someone have the right, by paying money, to slander my historical roots and misinform the Latvian public by releasing false information? And who will be responsible for this?
While the Armenian people are demanding peace and expressing their position within the framework of Latvian law, black propaganda is being conducted in Riga with the aim of defiling the reputation of my people. I find this extremely unacceptable in a country that adheres to democratic views and has never been seen to infringe on human rights. However, today my rights, as a citizen of Latvia and as an Armenian, have been violated both according to the laws of the state and according to the ethical principles.
We demand justice, and that all the guilty parties who were involved in this crime were brought to justice in accordance with the law of Latvia. “
In accordance with Article 10 of the Advertising Law, the advertiser is responsible for the content of the advertisement – the person who produces and distributes the advertisement, or the person on behalf and in whose interests the advertisement is created and distributed by another person.” Although initially the company saw no controversy in the content of the broadcasts, after the public uproar the company changed its mind. However, as soon as the public drew attention to the ambiguous content of the advertising materials, only then the agency stopped broadcasting them.
This case is currently under the investigation and will be continued.