Ex-Israeli lawmaker dies in Latvia hours after anti-Nazi rally

(JTA) — Marina Solodkin, a former Israeli lawmaker, died of what appeared to be natural causes in Latvia, hours after attending a protest rally against a large neo-Nazi gathering.

Solodkin was found dead Saturday night in her hotel room at the FG Royal Hotel in central Riga. She was 60.

Solodkin, a Kadima lawmaker whose Knesset term ended in January, arrived in Latvia over the weekend to attend a roundtable discussion with European Union representatives and nongovernmental agencies fighting xenophobia. The meeting coincided with the annual Waffen SS March on Saturday by hundreds of neo-Nazis through the streets of Riga.

Joel Rubinfeld, co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, also attended the roundtable discussions and staged a counter demonstration with Solodkin and approximately 30 others in the area where approximately 1,500 neo-Nazis were marching.

“There was some violence by neo-Nazis and it was a stressful time, but she seemed fine," Rubinfeld told JTA. "It appears her death was of natural causes.

"It is a sad day. Marina was committed to the cause of the Jewish people right until her last breath."

Solodkin, a Moscow native with a doctorate in economics, immigrated to Israel in 1991. She began her political career in the former Yisrael B’Aliyah party and moved to Likud before joining Kadima. Several of the many bills she introduced that became laws promoted the status of women, immigrants and Holocaust survivors.

On her Facebook page in a post about her Riga trip, Solodkin wrote, “Lately, neo-Nazism is raising its ugly head in Eastern Europe, in the post-Soviet states. We must remain vigilant.”

Solodkin was protesting a march that featured veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS and their supporters on Legionnaire’s Day, which commemorates Latvians who fought for the Germans during World War II. Among the marchers was Raivis Dzintars, a Latvian lawmaker for the National Alliance, a rightist party with 14 of the Latvian parliament’s 100 seats.

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