RIGA - Inese Vaidere (New Unity), Member of the European Parliament (MEP), calls for an investigation into the influence of Russian agents in European Union (EU) structures.
The politician's office told LETA that MEPs reacted immediately to the news about MEP Tatjana Zdanoka's (Latvian Russian Union) cooperation with Russian special services - it was proposed to discuss the issue within the EP and this was done at this week's plenary session.
"Then, immediately after this information was made public, EP President Roberta Metsola also referred the matter to the Ethics Committee. I should say right away that the EP cannot deprive Zdanoka of her mandate, it cannot expel her, but it can deprive her of her daily allowance, it can possibly deny her access to the EP buildings," said Vaidere.
The EP adopted a resolution on the alleged Russian interference in the EU's democratic processes, known as Russiagate. The main focus of the resolution is that MEP Zdanoka may have acted as an informant for the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation between 2004 and 2017. The resolution was supported by 433 of the 507 MEPs who voted.
In the adopted resolution, the EP commits to fully support and cooperate with the Latvian authorities in their investigation into Zdanoka's activities and calls on the competent authorities to investigate whether she should be prosecuted under the criminal law.
Vaidere explains that for years Zdanoka has been conducting anti-Latvian acts in the EP and discrediting Latvia. The MEP noted that the true situation in Latvia has always been explained to her colleagues, both about non-citizens and the use of the Russian language, but when Russia started the war in Ukraine, it was time to act more forcefully and address the EP Vice-President Heidi Hautala about Zdanoka's presence in her political group, the Greens/European Free Alliance, which was givoing her disinformation a big platform and discrediting the group. Two weeks after this conversation, Zdanoka had to leave the group. She is now an independent MEP, she points out.
In the resolution, MEPs express their outrage and grave concern at Russia's continued efforts to undermine European democracy, to foster division among European citizens, sometimes by bribing individual MEPs and making them dependent through European political parties that act as Kremlin propaganda amplifiers.
"I believe that Zdanoka is not the only Kremlin agent in the EP, there are others who serve Russian interests, thus endangering the security of the EU. I therefore believe that it is urgent and imperative for the EP to conduct a thorough internal investigation to assess all possible cases of Russian interference," Vaidere stressed.
She points out that there is reason to believe that there are a large number of Russian agents of influence in almost all EU bodies and that this is a matter that needs to be thoroughly investigated and resources invested in.
As reported, according to an investigation by the Russian independent investigative journalism organisation The Insider, in cooperation with Estonian, Latvian and Swedish journalists, Zdanoka has been in active correspondence with Russian citizens who may be officers of the Russian Federal Security Service. Among other things, she sent them reports on her activities. The investigation is based on Zdanoka's hacked emails.