RIGA - Former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga has voiced surprise over Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis' decision to suspend the chief of the anti-corruption bureau, KNAB, on grounds of alleged financial violations.
The ex-president believes the decision may put national security at risk.
In an interview with Latvia's Diena daily the former head of state states that during her term in office she did not receive any documents outlining violations in KNAB, although she repeatedly requested information from the State Auditor's Office about audits at various institutions. "But I never heard... that KNAB was among the serious problems Latvia was facing," she said.
However, she admitted that Kalvitis told her that it would be necessary to look deeper into the anti-corruption watchdog's bookkeeping, as the money allocated for investigations was not properly controlled.
Asked whether the suspension of KNAB head Aleksejs Loskutovs might pose a threat to national security, Vike-Freiberga said: "I think that there are threats, especially to certain inquiries."
"I know that progress has been achieved in recent years in a number of politically sensitive probes, very broad probes, that have been dragging on for years. In recent months, Latvia has received documents that were very difficult to get from foreign countries. Now it has happened, so there is a possibility to access information and bring charges against people that had safeguarded themselves with certain firewalls against eventual exposure of their actions," Vike-Freiberga said, cryptically, before revelaing that was indeed talking about the well-known corruption case involving Ventspils officials, among other cases.
Vike-Freiberga also voiced concern over the election of Ventspils doctor Gunars Daudze to the post of parliamentary speaker, suggesting that it could harm Latvia's reputation.
"First of all, I am talking about political cynicism. I find the parliament's choice of its new chairman provocative."
"I have got an impression that the parliament in its omnipotence is putting forward such a candidate defiantly, and the coalition accepts it, because their concern is to pass a desirable budget," Vike-Freiberga said, adding that the budget concerns "cannot justify actions that undermine the reputation of the state".
The ex-president said she found it very provocative that a member of a party, whose leader, Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, is facing serious criminal charges and has spent several months in jail, has been appointed the new parliament speaker.
Gundars Daudze, a candidate nominated by the Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS), was elected the new speaker of the Latvian parliament following the resignation of previous speaker Indulis Emsis. Emsis, faces a criminal case against him over false testimony he is alleged to have provided to police.