Marchers honor German combat unit from World War II

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RIGA, Latvia: Thousands of people marched through this capital Sunday under heavy police protection to honor countrymen who fought in a German combat unit during World War II.

Protesters jeered as the procession of about 3,000 people - a few surviving members of the Waffen SS unit, known as the Latvian Legion, among them - arrived at the Freedom Monument in central Riga.

Participants in the march sang patriotic songs and waved Latvian flags before laying roses at the base of the monument as protesters chanted "Disgrace!" and "Hitler is dead!" in Russian and blew whistles to drown out the singing....

Veterans who fought on the side of Nazi Germany say they were simply fighting for their freedom against the Soviet menace. But many ethnic Russians, who make up approximately one-third of the country's 2.3 million people, claim that the Soviet army liberated the Baltic state from fascism.

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