About a thousand people have marched in Riga to pay tribute to Latvians who fought in German Waffen SS units against the Soviet Union during World War II.

Jeered by protesters who said the parade glorifies fascism, aging war veterans led Monday's procession to the Latvian capital's freedom monument, where they laid flowers and sang traditional songs.

The annual march has become a public relations headache for Latvian leaders.

Participants say they are simply honoring those who tried to defend Latvia's freedom. But protesters, many of them from Latvia's ethnic Russian minority, call the march an insult to the millions who fought and died in the struggle against Nazi Germany.

Latvia was invaded by both Soviet and German forces during WWII and remained occupied by the Soviet Union until 1991.