Slesers: Anticorruption bureau is tapping my phone

  • 2005-11-30
  • By Aaron Eglitis
RIGA - Transport Minister Ainars Slesers dropped a bombshell on Nov. 24 when, during a televised interview, he accused the country's anticorruption bureau of tapping his phone and distributing the information to journalists.
Slesers later called on the general prosecutor's office to investigate the allegation.
The leader of the religion-oriented Latvia's First Party said that he was surprised to find a number of journalists waiting for him when he went to Jurmala for a meeting with a local prosecutor.

The prosecutor, however, denied informing the media of his visit.

"After this meeting, I met with the journalists and answered the questions they were interested in. After the conversation with them, I asked where they learned about this meeting, if the prosecutor did not inform anyone?" the transport minister told Latvian Independent Television.

"The journalists clearly said that this information did not come from the prosecutor, but from KNAB [Bureau for Corruption Prevention and Control 'sed.]," he added.

Slesers then claimed that the anticorruption bureau learned of his meeting by listening to his mobile phone conversations.

The anticorruption bureau has a number of employees that are aligned with political forces in the country, the transport minister said, though he declined to name any names.

"The question is, am I the only one in the country or are other politicians also being listened to?" he asked.

When LNT asked Aleksejs Loskutovs, head of the anticorruption bureau, the following day if his institution was listening to Slesers' phone calls, he replied laconically, "The answer to the question is a state secret."

However a day later, Loskutovs told the daily Diena that he doubted if anyone in his organization would have known about Slesers' visit to the prosecutor's office.

He also claimed that Slesers was attempting to cast a shadow over the bureau's work.

The transport minister has sent letters to the heads of the Interior Ministry, the Constitutional Protection Bureau, the Security Police, Parliament's national security committee and the prime minister.

Slesers said his meeting with the Jurmala prosecutor was connected with a criminal case involving his party. The case reportedly involves alleged bribes made to buy the mayoral seat in the city council of Jurmala. Due to vote-buying allegations in Jurmala, the city's elections were temporarilly nullified. The Supreme Court ruled on Nov. 29 that the Jurmala City elections in March were legitimate and allowed the results to stand.

The anticorruption bureau detained both Gvido Harijs Volbrugs and Leonids Lasmanis for allegedly offering bribes and land to Ilmars Ancans, a member of the Jurmala City Council, to throw his vote for Juris Hlevickis, the Latvia's First Party candidate for mayor.