The informal, non-violent extra-parliamentary opposition movement known as "The Penguins" will stage a "spontaneous" strolling action near the Latvian parliament or Saeima on Wednesday, February 4 at 3 PM local time. The action will coincide with an emergency meeting of the Saeima to take up a vote of non-confidence in the coalition government of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis. The vote is not expected to succeed.
Internet sites have been urging penguin sympathizers to bring gifts (used clothing, soap, curios, and the like)for parliamentarians or to decorate nearby tree branches with patriotic ribbons.
It remains to be seen whether the police, who have been on high alert in the wake of farmer protests on February 3, will attempt to seal off the area around the Saeima building. On January 17, a few days after rioters stoned the Saeima and broke a number of windows, police sealed off the area with steel barriers ahead of an unsanctioned demonstration by the tiny "Action Party" (Rīcības Partija). Journalists and TV crews outnumbered a few party activists at that gathering.
During the farmers' protest, in which columns of tractors drove into Riga and onto bypass highways near the capital, a large number of police vans, equipped for possible riot duty (windows were covered with screens) and elements of the elite Alpha riot control and special operations unit were seen near one street crossing where highway police stopped a convoy of around 25 tractors.
The Penguin movement takes its name from a remark by the Prime Minister in a New Year's eve address to the nation that in cold times, penguins huddle close together.