Israeli former lawmaker dies in Latvia after anti-Nazi rally

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

MERS Goodwill ad

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

Solodkin, whose term in the Knesset as a lawmaker for Kadima ended in January, arrived in Latvia over the weekend to attend roundtable discussion with European Union representatives and nongovernmental agencies fighting xenophobia. The meeting coincided with the annual Waffen SS March on March 16 by hundreds of neo-Nazis through the streets of Riga.

“It has been a stressful day for all of us here in Riga,” said Joel Rubinfeld, co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, who also attended the roundtable discussions and staged a counter demonstration with Solodkin and approximately 30 other people in the same area as 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. It appears her death was of natural causes,” Rubinfeld told JTA. “It is a sad day. Marina was committed to the cause of the Jewish people right until her last breath.”

Born in Moscow, Solodkin, who had a PhD in economics, immigrated to Israel in 1991. She began her political career in the former Yisrael BaAliyah party, moved to the Likud party and then joined the Kadima party. Several of the many bills introduced by Solodkin became laws for promoting the status of women, immigrants and Holocaust survivors. She is survived by her husband, with whom she lived in Ashkelon, and two children.

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

The neo-Nazi march Solodkin protested 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 seats of the Latvian parliament’s 100.

ADVERTISEMENT: Visit to find a Jewish camp and see if your child qualifies for a $1,000 grant.

Click to write a letter to the editor.