Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 36

A six-month-old Latvian parliamentary investigation into a sex scandal turned explosive on February 17 through public statements made by the special commission’s chairman, Janis Adamsons. From the parliament’s rostrum, Adamsons claimed that witnesses had implicated Prime Minister Andris Skele, Justice Minister Valdis Birkavs, State Revenue Service Director General Andrejs Sonciks and senior staff in the Prosecutor General’s Office as suspects in a homosexual pedophilic ring. Adamsons further claimed by way of deduction that Finance Minister Edmunds Krastins and Privatization Agency Director General Janis Naglis had tried to “pressure” and “blackmail” some commission members.

Adamsons presented no evidence to substantiate his claims. The commission had not authorized his statement, and no member seconded the allegations. Initial reactions from parliamentary party leaders underscored the legal and procedural impropriety of the deputy’s action. Birkavs applied to the General Prosecutor’s Office to open a criminal case against Adamsons for deliberate slander. Birkavs acted, he said, in his dual capacity as a libeled individual and as Justice Minister responsible for “defending the legal order against a methodical attempt at ruining it.” A legal scholar by profession, Birkavs is a former prime minister and long-serving foreign minister. Sonciks, terming Adamsons’ apparent expectation of impunity “idiotic,” has also announced that he is suing for libel. Skele, while pondering a similar step, described Adamsons’ statement as a carefully planned attempt at destabilizing the government. In several statements, Skele urged all state officials, including parliamentarians, to follow due process of law and turn any evidence to the law enforcement authorities. National Human Rights Office Director Olafs Bruvers commented that the allegations violated Latvia’s laws and the human rights of the officials by impugning their honor and right to privacy.

Adamsons represents the Social-Democrat Party (SDP), a leftist-nationalist organization which holds fourteen seats in the 100-seat parliament. He and SDP leader Juris Bojars are legally barred from holding state office in the executive branch because of their past affiliation with the USSR KGB. Bojars is a self-confessed former KGB officer who left that agency before the collapse of Soviet rule. Adamsons was an officer of the USSR Border Troops, which were a branch of the KGB. An investigation has been underway for some time against Adamsons on that account. Adamsons and Bojars have a reputation for inflammatory statements. In the current situation, Adamsons claims to be fighting against “the gay brotherhood which has such a great and deep influence in this country.” Bojars is similarly saying that he “does not want to be governed by gays.” Latvia’s leading political columnist, Aivars Ozolins of the daily Diena, commented that “having not found any credible criminal evidence, they are playing on people’s prejudices.”

In a special televised address to the country, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga termed February 17–the date of Adamsons’ speech–“a black day for Latvia and her image” because of the unsubstantiated accusations, “slander and name-calling.” Yet Vike-Freiberga noted that merely dismissing Adamsons’ allegations by referring to his past KGB ties is not a solution. She urged a serious, professional and expeditious investigation into the case, so as to avoid any internal political destabilization or adverse impact on foreign policy, particularly on negotiations with the European Union (LETA, BNS, AFP, February 17-20).

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