RIGA - China's interest in our region - its political and economic presence - are becoming increasingly visible, representatives of the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) told LETA, commenting on several lawmakers' trip to China.
Within the framework of its competence, SAB regularly informs and advises Latvia's public officials, including lawmakers, on risks that can arise from visits to countries outside the European Union (EU) and NATO.
In general, SAB recommends that not only politicians, business people and researchers, but also anyone planning a trip to a non-EU or non-NATO country should assess the potential risks of visiting the particular country.
"China's interests - its political and economic presence - are becoming increasingly visible in our region. One should bear in mind that cooperation with third countries can involve risks that tend to jeopardize not only the security of the parties involved, but also national security," SAB warned.
It is important to be aware that trips sponsored by the host country may not only be aimed at friendly cooperation and presenting opportunities, but may also include targeted attempts to build long-term contacts with specific individuals who have knowledge, influence or access to information, SAB noted.
As reported, the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) will look into several Saeima members' trip to China, Latvian Television reported on Monday.
Several Latvian lawmakers who are members of a friendship group for cooperation with the Chinese parliament ar currently visiting China. The group's leader Ainars Slesers (Latvia First) has publicly stated that the trip is financed by the Chinese government.
"All expenses of the Latvian delegation are covered by the Chinese government. This visit has cost EUR 0 to Latvian taxpayers!" Slesers wrote in his Facebook account, which also features pictures of the Saeima members posing alongside representatives of the National People's Congress of China and going on excursions. A video posted on Slesers' account even shows a scene of foot massage.
The Latvian MPs traveling China for the Chinese government's money are Slesers, his son Ricards Slesers (Latvia First), Kristaps Kristopans (Latvia First), Ramona Petravica (Latvia First), Linda Liepina (Latvia First), Viktorija Pleskane (Stability) and two lawmakers from the National Alliance - Aleksandrs Kirsteins and Edmunds Teirumnieks.
Latvian Television found out that, contrary to what Slesers has publicly stated, the trip to China is not an official visit authorized by the Saeima Presidium.
KNAB said that "in response to the publicly available information about the visit of several Saeima members to China, KNAB will carry out an in-depth assessment of the information in accordance with its competence".