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University professor detained for destabilizing financial system

  • 2008-11-21
  • TBT Staff in cooperation with BNS

People rushed to change their money to euros en masse following a rumor that the lat was unstable.

VENTSPILS 's The rector of Ventspils University College has expressed his surprise over the detention of a lecturer for attempts todestabilize the Latvian financial system.

University College Rector Janis Vucans told the Baltic News Service that he did not know the exactreasons for the detention of lecturer Dmitrijs Smirnovs, but that he expectedto receive a written explanation.

The rector said that the discussion that led to the lecturers detention wasan ordinary talk in which each participant voiced his own opinion and vision.

Asked whether Smirnovs' detention should be taken as interference with a person's freedom of speech, Vucans said that Smirnovs is a lecturer at the Ventspils University College,delivering lectures on banks and monetary systems. "On what basis shouldwe lecture? Not on examples of some Switzerland or the US, thesituation in Latviais more important to us," he said.

"The question is whether we are teaching something abstract, what doesnot refer to us, or we are trying to educate our students on issues that aretopical," said the rector. "As far as I understand, his statementsare not populist, but based on analysis," said the rector.

Smirnovs' detention was one in a string of detentions allegedlyfollowing a rumor that the lat was on the verge of devaluation. Parliament madeit a crime to spread such rumors after a previous incident saw hundreds of thousandsof lats sold over the course of a few days.

Smirnovs said in the discussion: "The only thing I can advise: first,not to keep money in banks, second, not to accumulate savings in lats as it isvery dangerous now. Convert them to the US dollars. The euro is an artificialcurrency, and what is achieved by the euro in a year, can be lost in a month.These are real threats to the value of the euro. Maybe some people do notunderstand it, but the main oppositionist and competitor to the USis the European Union (EU). The main goal of the USis to destroy the EU as it does not benefit from a strong and united Europe,strong currency -- the euro."