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Intensity of Russia’s soft power efforts increasing, says security chief

Feb 12, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

Russia's policies towards the Baltics shows the country is increasing its intensity of its ''soft power'' efforts in the region, Latvian security Police Chief Janis Reiniks has told the Neatkariga newspaper.

Reiniks points out that Russia is attempting to enforce its ''soft power'' in Latvia through information campaigns, as well as through cultural, educational and other similar instruments, so to promote a positive attitude towards Russia, which later will be used by Russia for its "geopolitical interests."

The Security Police chief added that "it may not seem all that negative when, for example, books are presented as gifts to Latvian schools, but that the contents of these books, especially ones that include historical information, must be evaluated very critically."

According to the Security Police chief, two so-called ''Russian world cabinets'' have been opened in Valmiera and Rezekne, and it is possible others may be established in Latvia as well.

He said that there have been increasing attempts to emphasize within the Latvian information space interpretations of historical events that are favorable to Russia, idealizing the processes taking place in Russia, while at the same time well as criticizing processes taking place in Latvia, as well as doubting the legitimacy of Latvia's independence and democratic system.

''Due to these soft power tactics, Russia wishes to achieve a change in public opinion, where residents believe everything in Latvia is bad, while everything in Russia is perfect. Of course we must cooperate with our neighbor, but this cooperation must be constructive and mutually beneficial. We must also cooperate with Russia in areas such as education and culture, but this cooperation cannot become a threat to Latvia's national interests,'' Reiniks believes.

The Security Police chief also dispelled concern about a possible increase in terrorist threat levels in Latvia. ''The terrorist threat level in Latvia remains relatively low, but this can change at any moment,'' he said. Reiniks said that one of the main risks in this area is the Internet, where anyone can access terrorist propaganda materials and establish contacts with radical individual or organizations through social networking web-sites. He added that major terrorist attacks have in recent years taken place in countries bordering Latvia, as well as in the Nordic region.

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