Relations between Latvia and Russia went into the deep freeze following an incident on March 3 in which Latvian police dispersed a protest by more than 1,000 persons — mostly retired Russians — outside Riga’s city hall. The demonstrators, who blocked traffic in the city center for several hours, were protesting against rising living costs and were calling for higher pensions. They also carried "Long Live Socialism" placards.

Latvian authorities pointed out afterward that the protesters had failed to request a permit for their action. Following an investigation of the incident, they also noted that none of the protesters had been hurt or arrested during the dispersal of the demonstration, and they made clear that the Riga police had acted in accordance with the law. The