Military Coup of January 21, 1927 in Valmiera In the Reports of Soviet Diplomats
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Military Coup of January 21, 1927 in Valmiera In the Reports of Soviet Diplomats
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Yulia Mikhailova 
Institute of World History RAS
State Academic University for the Humanities
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The article discusses the events on the night of January 20—21, 1927 in Valmiera, when Lieutenant Edgars Oliņš, an officer in the Latvian armed forces, attempted a coup d'état. Despite the fact that coup d'état lasted only few hours and the citizens discovered all from the newspapers one must notice the importance of the internal and external political context of the incident and its connection to similar events in Europe — the successful coup of December 17, 1926. in Lithuania, an attempt by the right coup on January 22, 1933 in Czechoslovakia and other similar scenarios. The events in Valmiera had a definite influence on the internal political situation in the country: caused the new round of mutual accusations in the Latvian political environment and in the media, intensified differences between the cabinet and opposition. The sharp criticism of the government intensified in the newspapers of the conservative and right wing after January 21. Public opinion was obviously being prepared for a possible Rightist coup and constitutional alteration. The question of how real the change of power in Latvia is, whether it is by parliamentary or by force, is actualized again. A significant role was played by the policy of Moscow: the Oliņš' action was used by Soviet diplomacy as another stage to stimulate the campaign in Latvian society against the so-called bourgeoisie and reaction and to influence internal politics in Latvia. In this sense, a certain effect was achieved: the Social Democrats, through the press, stated “readiness to fight fascism”, Minister of Foreign Affairs F. Cielēns stated in a public rally about incitement by “Latvian fascists” and the likelihood of a civil war in Latvia, intensified left trade unions whose representatives took the initiative to “create a united front against the fascists”. One must state that the Social Democrats took advantage of the situation to strengthen their position and emphasize the danger of the active position of the leaders of the right-wing spectrum. Permutations were carried out in the army, pressure on the right increased — arrests were made among members of the Latvian Nationalist Club (LNK), a law was passed that allowed the government to create field courts in peacetime and, therefore, a local event was used as an instrument of internal policy. At the same time, Moscow formed a political line in the conditions of negotiations on a political and trade alliance with Latvia. The events in Valmiera were used to support the Social Democratic government as a favorable conjuncture for strengthening mutual relations. The interests of the right-wing opposition were also taken into account. Thus, the events of December 1926 in Kaunas and the attempt of the right putsch in Valmiera in January 1927 defined for Soviet diplomacy both a line of relations with the social democrats and the development of a strategy of interaction with the right opposition in Latvia.

Latvia, USSR, coup d’Etat in Valmiera of January 21, 1927, Edgars Oliņš, Soviet-Latvian relations
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