Russia's request for Kononov rejected

  • 2000-04-13
RIGA (BNS) - The request to allow Russian medics and the ambassador to meet with former Soviet partisan Vassiliy Kononov, who was convicted for war crimes in Latvia, was turned down by the Riga Regional Court, not the Latvian Foreign Ministry, the ministry spokesman said April 11.

Commenting on the earlier statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry over the alleged refusal by the Latvian Foreign Ministry to grant the meeting with Kononov, Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins said that Russia's request was turned down by the court.

The court decided to reject the application, requesting permission for Russian doctors to examine the war crime convict, because such action is not provided for under procedural rules effective in Latvia.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry had merely informed their Russian colleagues about the court ruling, Riekstins explained.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said April 11 it was displeased over refusal by Latvia to grant Russian medics and the Russian ambassador a meeting with Kononov.

Russia said in its statement a few days ago the Latvian Foreign Ministry had turned down the request by the Russian government to allow Russian doctors to examine Kononov, 77, and provide medical assistance, if needed.

"This approach indicates that Latvian authorities fully ignore generally accepted principles of humanism," the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed.

The statement by Russia coincides with a publication in Newsweek magazine, questioning fair trial of Kononov, and the criticism by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, that reproached Latvia for politicizing such cases.

Riekstins stressed that Latvia's position in the matter had been reiterated over and over again -in a democratic state cases like this are in the exclusive domain of the court and other branches do not interfere with judicial authorities.

In late January, Kononov was sentenced to six years in jail for killing Latvian civilians during World War II. The appellate claim in his case will be examined in April.

Russian officials, acting president Vladimir Putin included, have several times spoken in defense of Kononov, claiming that Latvia convicted Kononov just because he had fought on the Soviet side in the war.