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Vandals hit Latvian synagogue

MOSCOW, Dec. 23 (JTA) — Vandals have painted a swastika and anti-Semitic slogans on a synagogue in the Latvian capital of Riga. The desecration last Friday came after a neo-Nazi group known as Lightning and Cross distributed leaflets in Riga calling Jews and Russians enemies of the Latvian people. The slogans in the leaflets were the same as those painted at the synagogue entrance, according to a Latvian Jewish official. A Latvian prosecutor said the neo-Nazi group is illegal, adding that it incites racial hatred and calls for the overthrow of the Latvian government. The group’s leaflets called on Latvians to defend themselves by fighting Jews and the Latvian authorities. “Political and economic power in Latvia is in the hands of international Jewry,” whom the leaflet went on to describe as “racially inferior degenerates who strive to exterminate Latvians as a nation and to completely ruin Latvia’s industry and agriculture.” Four members of the neo-Nazi group have been arrested for alleged participation in several bombings in Riga, including one last summer that seriously damaged a monument commemorating Latvia’s liberation from the Nazi occupation.