The protests of the Belarusian people against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and the falsified presidential elections are growing. But Lukashenko’s repression of protesters, journalists and ordinary passers-by is becoming increasingly brutal.The Latvian government this week appealed to the International Ice Hockey Federation, threatening to revoke its guarantees as a partner country for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in the spring if the competition is still organized in Belarus.Unlike the government, the Latvian Hockey Federation has a different attitude towards violence and human rights violations in Belarus. Its leader Aigars Kalvītis calls not to confuse politics with sports. By refusing to organize the competition due to political motives, the authority of Latvia in the hockey environment will be destroyed.Protests against the falsification of the presidential election have been stalling in Belarus for almost a month. During this time, thousands of people have been detained by the repressive forces led by Alexander Lukashenko. Around 450 releases testify to brutal torture in solitary confinement. Tear gas, stripping of protesters, prolonged starvation, beatings and rape.Two detainees are dead, relatives continue to search for the six missing. Latvia does not consider the elections in the neighboring country to be legitimate, Lukashenko and those close to him are included in Latvia’s “black list”. The government is also ready to withdraw Riga’s status as a partner country in the World Hockey Championship, which is planned for the end of May next year in Riga and Minsk. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš “The New Unity” (17.08.2020) “Our government supports the desire of the Belarusian people to live in an independent and democratic country. Secondly, in the government today, we made a political decision to support Belarusian civil society with EUR 150 000, and thirdly, given the situation in Belarus, we decided to start negotiations with the International Hockey Federation on the current stage of the championship in Belarus. in another country. ” Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš “New Unity” The text of the letter to the International Ice Hockey Federation was discussed at a closed government meeting this week, and the tone has become even sharper. At the request of “Nekā Personīga”, the letter was declassified. And “Nekā Personīga” knows that Latvia will recall Riga as a partner in the championship, if the competition will also take place in Minsk.(..) The presidential elections held in Belarus on 9 August 2020 were not in line with Belarus’ international obligations and world-renowned democratic principles and the rule of law, and were not free and fair. The actions of the Belarussian authorities in repressing and using violence against members of civil society and the independent media violate internationally recognized human rights and democratic principles and, in the opinion of the Government of the Republic of Latvia, are incompatible with the IIHF values and therefore incompatible with the 2021 IIHF The status of the main organizer of the World Cup.In view of the above, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Latvia, I call on another country to be granted the status of the main organizer of the 2021 IIHF World Championship. If the situation of human rights and freedoms in Belarus does not change and appropriate decisions do not follow from the IIHF, the Government of the Republic of Latvia may decide to withdraw guarantees for the organization of the 2021 IIHF World Championships.The opinion of the Latvian Hockey Federation differs from the position of the government. Aigars Kalvītis, who also has experience as head of government, believes that sports and politics must stand alone. President of the Latvian Hockey Federation, co-owner of Riga “Dinamo” Aigars Kalvītis I could not imagine that Latvia would refuse to hold competitions at the last minute!We haven’t had a championship in 15 years, and we probably won’t have the next 15. This is a very serious event for hockey. And in terms of audience, hockey is number one with us.This is very important for hockey. For the development of hockey. It is quite difficult now to give up what we have undertaken. We will destroy our authority in the eyes of the hockey farm, and we will also abandon the development of hockey.One thing is the political level, the other is the domestic level. We can in no way isolate ourselves from Belarus as a state. From Belarusians as from the people.And these contacts must be maintained and they will be maintained.The government has blacklisted some Belarusian politicians that the country would not want to see with us. The second thing is culture, art, sports.And can we break it? I think most likely- not.And we cannot exclude Belarus from its agenda. It is our neighbor. Maybe we can exclude an African country that is far from us. I can still understand that.Kalvitis does not predict a quick response from the International Ice Hockey Federation. Because the final decision will be made at the end of January. Kalvitis calls to look at the example of Finland, which a year ago also applied for the status of the championship organizer.The Finnish “Jokerit”, which is partly owned by Russian oligarchs, really had to play against Minsk’s “Dinamo” in the continental hockey league KHL this Thursday. Finnish fans threatened to boycott the Helsinki team home game in that case. Athletes also received threats. On the day when the match was to take place, KHL’s unofficial request to transfer the matches was not taken into account. Instead, the team was awarded a technical loss for not attending an away game in Minsk. Riga “Dinamo” shareholders do not talk about the transfer of KHL matches. And in October he will go to play in Minsk. President of the Latvian Hockey Federation, co-owner of Riga “Dinamo” Aigars Kalvītis “Since we have very close human ties to us, and now to say that we no longer know you because you have political problems, I would refrain from doing so. I would like to say that we need to maintain relations with Belarus on a human level. ”Asked whether this means that “Dinamo” will go to Minsk, Kalvītis answered, thinking that yes.The Latvian Hockey Federation, led by Aigars Kalvitis, also receives funding from the state every year. It has already won more than half a million (593,268 euros) for the championship and sent a request for an additional 700,000 taxpayers’ money in the summer. (EUR 756 225) (total EUR 1 349 493). Negotiations with the International Ice Hockey Federation are being conducted on behalf of the government by the Ministry of Education and Science, which is responsible for the sports sector. Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science Edgars Severs We are a government institution, we are in a position to work only with a country that respects human rights and where these freedoms exist, where it does not oppose the media through repression. They must also be the principles and values of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation)!It can’t be that they close their eyes and ears and don’t see anything when they play sports. In our view, it is very closely related! And sport also carries these values, including human rights, democracy and others.Kalvitis hopes that the International Ice Hockey Federation will entrust the part of the championship planned in Belarus to Riga. There are no longer any worries about the readiness of the ice rink for the championship trainings in the Daugava stadium. The hall will be completed in March. It is co-financed by Europe and managed by a company from the Ministry of Education and Science.