Belarus and Russia have strongly condemned the significant political protest seen in Latvia.
On Monday, Riga Mayor Martins Stakis was described as lowering the official red-green flag of Belarus and raising the white-red-white flag of the Belarusian opposition.
The flag was raised as a show of solidarity after the arrest of opposition activist Raman Pratasevich, 26.
Pratasevich was on his way from Greece to Lithuania on Sunday when a passenger plane carrying him made an emergency landing in Minsk, Belarus, due to an alleged bomb threat.
Pratasevitsh was arrested after the emergency landing.
- The flag of Belarus was replaced by a flag other than the flag of Belarus.
It is a rather outrageous act, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian Sport-Express.
Dmitry Baskov, President of the Belarusian Hockey Association, strongly condemned the actions of the Latvians.
He has already had time to send a letter to René Fasel, President of the International Hockey Federation IIHF.
- The Belarusian Hockey Association considers the activities seen in Riga to be very disrespectful and unprecedented towards the athletes who play in the World Cup.
We have repeatedly stressed in the past that the team went to the Games to show their athletic level, not as a political tool.
Attempts have been made to harness them in that (political game) in every way in preparation for the Games, Baskov uploaded.
Fasel also wrote a strict letter to Stakis in which he demanded either the removal of the white-red-white flag in front of the race hotel or the removal of the IIHF emblems and the flag from the same place.
Stakis responded by removing the IIHF flag and emblems from the area.
- We must choose our side - a people or a dictator who seeks freedom.
We’re removing IIHF tickets, Stakis wrote in response on Twitter.
The flag protest also led to tough diplomatic action between Latvia and Belarus.
First, Belarus deported the entire population of the Latvian embassy, and soon Latvia responded by doing the same to Belarus.