RIGA - Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis signed an order on Nov. 8 to reinstate Latvia's top anti-corruption official Aleksejs Loskutovs, allowing Loskutovs to resume his duties the following day.
Kalvitis also issued the anti-corruption chief an official reprimand over the bookkeeping violations which led to his suspension.
The prime minister told journalist that he would not apologize for suspending and attempting to sack Loskutovs. Kalvitis said that while his decision should have been better explained to the public, it was the right thing to do. "There have been three very serious violations on his [Loskutovs'] part," he said.
Kalvitis' Sept. 24 decision to suspend Loskutovs from duty sparked a government crisis which has ultimately forced the prime minister to announce that he will step down (see story Page 1). The controversial suspension sparked two of the largest protests that the country has seen since independence was re-established in 1991, and led to the loss of three government ministers.
Kalvitis said that his decision was based on bookkeeping errors revealed in an audit of the institutions operations division, but critics allege that the move was politically motivated and that the suspension was illegal. Loskutovs continued to work at the anti-corruption bureau (KNAB) after his suspension, questioning the legitimacy of his suspension but temporarily yielding the top position to Alvis Vilks.
On Oct. 16, the government decided to ask the Saeima (Latvia's parliament) to outright sack the anti-corruption official based on the findings of a committee set up to investigate Loskutovs' work. Parliament returned the issue to the government, which set up another investigative committee to examine the case.
Kalvitis backtracked on his decision to suspend Loskutovs based on the recommendations of that committee, which said that the anti-corruption chief should be reprimanded.
Loskutovs told the Baltic News Service that he plans to appeal the reprimand in court, and that he will continue to press a complaint over his salary 's about 2,500 lats (3,557 euros) 's which had been withheld during his suspension.
The anti-corruption bureau intends to follow recommendations made by the State Auditors Office to correct the bookkeeping irregularities which sparked the controversy. KNAB also expects Parliament to pass amendments that would help the bureau better regulate and supervise its funding.