Russia irked that Latvia does not detain Berezovsky

  • 2005-02-23
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strong criticism of Latvia for not detaining billionaire exile Boris Berezovsky after he entered the country.

By allowing Berezovsky to enter the country, Latvia has ignored its obligations as a member of Interpol and shown that it is an unreliable partner in the fight against organized crime, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in statement. "Despite warning Latvia and reminding that Russia's Prosecutor General's Office has charged Berezovsky with large-scale fraud and he is on Interpol's international list of wanted persons, he has been given an auditorium to use for gross attacks on Russia's leadership," the statement read.

"By not taking measures to detain Berezovsky, Riga has ignored the obligations of a member of Interpol and shown its unreliability as a partner in fight against organized crime," the statement said. "Latvia should count with it that such an action will not be without consequences."

In defending his decision not to detain Berezovsky, who lives in London, where U.K. authorities have given him refugee status, Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons said he had acted on the basis of the Interpol Constitution. He referred to Article 3, which strictly forbids the organization to undertaken any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.

Jekabsons told the Baltic News Service that Berezovsky had arrived in Latvia under a different name, which is not on Interpol's list of internationally wanted persons. While waiting for the reply from Russia, the minister decided not to detain Berezovsky as the U.K. had given him status of a political refugee and issued travel documents.

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Normans Penke said the issue was in the police and border guard competence. The National Police, meanwhile, refused any comments on the subject, but Border Guard Chief Gunars Dabolins said they had not had any legal grounds for detaining anyone as "according to the documents, the individual named Boris Berezovsky and wanted by Russia has not crossed the border into Latvia."

Berezovsky arrived in Latvia Thursday evening by a plane from Tel Aviv in Israel. He said he was travelling with a refugee's document in the name of Platon Yelenin. "I don't have any problems to enter Latvia because Latvia has joined the Geneva convention on refugee's status," he said.