Left-wing targets MP Kirsteins

  • 2005-03-16
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - Left-wing deputies called for the removal of Alexandrs Kirsteins, head of Parlia-ment's foreign affairs committee, on March 15. The move was spurred by Kirsteins' "unacceptable" description of Russian residents in the nationalist paper Latvijas Avize.

Kirsteins, who is also a member of the People's Party, drew the ire of minority party representatives after he called for the repatriation of some Russians during an interview with Latvijas Avize.

"This is his [Kirsteins'] view on integration. But it is unacceptable for us. This is not about integration, this is about assimilation and repatriation," Alexandrs Bartasevics of the National Harmony Party told the Baltic News Service.

Bartasevics claimed that Kirsteins viewed only three types of Russians, those who can assimilate, those who should return to Russia, and those who will move to the West.

In his defense, Kirsteins said that Latvia and Russia should sign a "civilized contract" so that those who desired to live under Russian laws and had been invited to sabotage the state could leave if they wished.

In the interview with Latvijas Avize, Kirsteins suggested that the state should sign an agreement similar to the one Nazi Germany signed repatriating Baltic Germans during the late 1930s, despite having lived in Latvia for 700 years.

The statements by Kirsteins caught a number of people off guard. Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, who is also from the People's Party, said that Kirsteins should take responsibility for his own words.

The proposal was signed by 10 MPs from the National Harmony Party and the Socialist Party.

Despite outrage from minority MPs, it is highly unlikely that Kirsteins will be removed from his post when the vote takes place on March 17.

Kirsteins has a history of igniting controversy, particularly when he appointed a woman as a committee secretary who worked for the ultra-nationalist Aivars Garda.