Car bomb victim hurls accusations

  • 2007-08-08
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - The head of the State Revenue Service's customs criminal board, Vladimirs Vaskevics, has made a series of statements about the identity of attackers involved in a May 21 attempt on his life when assassins planted dynamite in his automobile.
Vaskevics made the accusations in interviews with the Russian daily newspapers Cas and Telegraf. During the interviews, he pointed to a number of individuals and organizations as having played a part in the car bomb attack.

In his Aug. 2 interview with the Russian language daily Cas, Vaskevics accused Latvian businessman Raimonds Stalbergs of organizing the attack. "If the minister is speaking about it, I do not see any need in keeping it secret. I think Stalbergs is involved in the case. Although I doubt that he was alone. I think he could not organize such a contract killing alone," he said.
Vaskevics added, "I would like to underscore that in my opinion it is not a simple murder attempt, but terrorism."
Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis has mentioned Stalbergs as possibly having been involved in the bombing of Vaskevics' car.
The daily noted that Stalbergs is under suspicion for extorting 7 million euros from Inara Vilkaste, Vaskevics' former wife.

In an Aug. 6 interview with Telegraf, Vaskevics vaguely listed a number of other organizations that he believes were involved. He said that he believes that the "criminal world rooted in state officials" are the real culprits behind the attack, adding that "some printed media" assisted in the attack. He went on to accuse the anti-corruption bureau, KNAB, of having a role in the attack, saying that it is possible the criminal circles involved passed rumours of foul play on to KNAB around the time of the attack.
Vaskevics also revealed that he had received threatening messages on his mobile phone sometime before the bombing attempt. "I received threats in an SMS message on my cell phone. I must admit that almost all threats were fulfilled. Professional work," Vaskevics said.

In a reaction to the statements, representatives of the state police service told The Baltic Times that the criminal investigation into the bombing would not be affected by Vaskevics' statements to the media.

"He can say whatever he wants to say, but in this case we have our own investigation. Of course we will listen to whatever he has to say to the police, but what he says to the media is his own business," spokespeople said.
The police refused to provide any further comments due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
The prosecutor general's office, however, is taking Vaskevics' statements very seriously and on Aug. 7 started an investigation into possible corruption on the part of KNAB officials. In a statement to the Baltic News Service, KNAB head Aleksejs Loskutovs said that the accusations were pure slander, and that if Vaskevics had any evidence of wrongdoing he would have turned to law enforcement agencies.
State Revenue Service chief Dzintars Jakans said shortly after the bombing that the motive behind the attack was most likely Vaskevics' professional duties, as large amounts of cigarettes, fuel and drugs were apprehended before the attack. Vaskevics, however, denied that this theory is a possibility in his interview with Cas.

Vaskevics was rushed to the hospital on May 21 after a bomb went off in his Subaru while he was placing documents in the back seat. Approximately 200 grams of TNT were used in the attack, an amount that experts say would have been enough to "blow up a house" if used properly. Experts said that the bomb was probably not intended to kill the customs official.
Immediately following the attack he was in serious condition with numerous fractures and burns, but is now recovering from the injuries. "I was recently discharged from the hospital. I am on rehabilitation at present. I am trying to do everything to regain my shape," he said in the Aug. 2 interview.