Accusations fly over expelled Russian diplomat

  • 2008-02-13
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - Latvian, Russian and even British media have begun hurling accusations at each other over the reasons behind the recent expulsion of a Russian diplomat from the Riga Embassy.
Latvian authorities stand by their initial statements that the expulsion was completely justified and backed up by irrevocable documentary evidence that the former diplomat was a threat to national security. 
Latvian television, however, painted a slightly different picture of the event.
On Feb. 10, the TV3 news program "Neka Personiga" (Nothing Personal) claimed to have unveiled evidence that the former diplomat, Alexander Rogozhin, was interested in more than accessing the databases of the Interior Ministry.

The news program accused the former diplomat 's along with former Ambassador Viktor Kalyuzhny, albeit to a lesser extent 's of having personal business interests in Latvia.
Neka Personiga reported that Rogozhin's father has extensive business interests in Latvia and currently acts as executive director of the Russian-Latvian cooperation council.
The program said that in addition to traveling to Latvia to meet with businessmen and politicians on a regular basis, the elder Rogozhin would often entrust his son to represent him.
Though the government does not have the right to restrict the elder Rogozhin's business activities in the country, if the younger Rogozhin used his prominent position in the Russian Embassy to influence his business interests it would constitute a significant conflict of interest.
Moreover, the news program indicated that Latvian businessman Juris Sabasovs had made Rogozhin his son's godfather.

One of Sabasovs' business partners, Vladimirs Komogorcevs, helped Pavel and Michael Kalyuzhny become co-owners of Terminala Serviss last March.
To make matters worse for the former ambassador, Neka Personiga concluded that there were business ties between former ambassador Kalyuzhny and Jurmala businessman Germans Miluss.
There is currently an international warrant for Miluss' arrest over his involvement in a 2006 local elections scandal the media dubbed "Jurmalagate."
Both Latvian and Russian officials have gone on the record saying the expulsion 's along with the expulsion of a Latvian diplomat from Moscow in response 's would not seriously affect relations between the two countries.
Despite these assurances, however, some British and Russian media outlets are eager to incorporate the episode into the general deterioration of relations between east and west.
On Feb. 9 the Daily Mail, a British news agency, published a story setting the scene for the incident to develop into a far-reaching scandal.

The article quoted various Russian publications which accused the U.K. of orchestrating the expulsion. The article points out that the head of the Constitution Protection Bureau 's which deals with counterintelligence among other things 's Janis Kazocins, is a former British officer who fought in two wars before going through the Latvian naturalization process.
According to the article, there are mumblings in Russia that the former British officer is still taking orders from MI6, Britain's famous secret service agency, and that "the affair is really part of its ongoing dispute with Britain."
Despite repeated attempts to get in touch with the Russian Embassy in Riga for comments, there were no press representatives available.

Though sources abroad may interpret the event as an act of hostility and manipulation, in Latvia diplomats from both sides of the fence would rather point to the steadily warming relations that the two countries have been experiencing.