Referring to the opinion by Karlis Streips "June 6: Election or circus act?" (TBT #658) I would like to add some remarks.
In this European Parliament election, of 8 seats for Latvia, 3 were taken by the so-called Russian parties. Besides Zhdanok from PCTVL a seat went to Rubiks from Harmony Center. I have to agree with the author that Rubiks is the only person in Latvian history to have been convicted of treason against the state. Just one detail, Rubiks was convicted retroactively because he could have been tried only after Latvia restored its full sovereignty from the USSR. It was possible only after the military coup staged in Moscow by retrograde communists in August 1991 failed.
Then Latvia de facto reestablished its independence. Although Rubiks was convicted of high treason at that time his actions were not illegal since from May 4, 1990 when the former Supreme Soviet of Latvian SSR passed Declaration on restoring independence of Latvian Republic, until end of August 1991 there was a real diarchy in Latvia which lasted for more than 15 months. There were two parallel state administrations including militia and prosecutor's office, one was loyal to the old Soviet system and the other one supported the renascent Latvian Republic.
Rubiks himself actively participated in the coup staged by the old Communist guard because, since in 1985 Gorbachev started Perestroika, Rubiks radically opposed the initiated reforms and in the days of coup he openly called Gorbachev traitor of state and party ideals. In 1990 's 1991 Rubiks was a Chairman of the so called Committee for the Rescue of Society and Committee of Constitution of Latvian SSR and USSR and Citizen Rights, and in August 1991 Latvian State Committee of Emergency situation. Although Rubiks in August 1991 fought tooth and nail to save the hopeless case, however thank God his actions did not cause human casualties as it was in Barricade Days in January 1991, when there were 7 victims who fell at the hands of OMON (Special purpose militia units). According to un-provable but plausible testimonies of eye witnesses there was a list of VIPs to eliminate [at the] disposal of Rubiks. Surely, such a list never has been found, as well as it was impossible to prove Rubiks' direct involvement in OMON activities and killings.
Now Rubiks is going to take an English language course in Brussels because he doesn't know any foreign tongue, unlike Zhdanok. As real soviet internationalist he speaks almost only Russian in his family as well. Not in vain his son Arturs took Latvian language course to learn his native tongue. As we know, in the coup d'Ã©tat of August 1991, actively participated then Minister of Interior Boriss Pugo who counted as a Latvian but could not speak Latvian. Before Pugo, First secretary of Latvian Communist Party was Voss who was so called Russia's Latvian as well (born in Russia) and never spoke publicly Latvian, though he could, he was at this position from 1966 until 1984 and his end of life spent in Moscow.
Further Streips writes: "â€¦ there was a saying that wherever there are two Latvians, there are 3 Latvian Lutheran congregations. In Latvia this can be amended to political parties." I am sorry I have to agree. Another saying holds that the favorite Latvian dish is another Latvian. We often say Latvians are small and grudging folks. I don't think that it would be good to divide nations into big and small as well as repeatedly stress that we Latvians are a little nation and country. Would it make any sense? As we know, the quality in life is more important than the quantity.
Let's remember that Latvia is not so small a country, it is ranked 124th by territory and 143th by population out of more than 200 countries. It is bigger than the Netherlands and Luxemburg put together, it is more than two hundred times bigger than Malta. Hereforth I'd like to recall the great Latvian poet Rainis: "We are as great as our spirit is". Would anybody say that Luxemburg is a banana republic? The point is, it all depends on quality and standards of life and democracy, not on size. There is one big advantage for Latvia, our pristine nature. Just give a thought how much of high quality nature per resident Latvia has; how many forest hectares, wild life species, nice scenery, etc. per resident Latvians have, besides the fact that Latvia is more than 10 times less populated than the Netherlands.
Speaking about the wish of leader of Latvian First Party (so called Priests' Party) Slesers to be like a mayor of Moscow Luzhkov. Last year on a visit to Moscow I was told that Luzhkov has boasted of having got nothing but his famous jockey cap a la Lenin whilst his wife is Russia's richest woman dollar billionaire. When visiting Riga some 5 years ago Luzhkov declared that there is genocide raging against Russian speakers in Latvia and upon returning home he called for boycott of Latvian exported goods.
I hope this crisis will give a chance to our political system for changing. Now Latvian political parties, which to enormous extent are pocket parties, owned by one oligarch can use Latvia's size to cleanse ones' selves and to get rid of bosses who, in a country governed by rules, would have to sit in prison, and for long. Let's keep in mind that in Europe the small countries are the rich ones and Latvia has every chance to join the club. It all depends on us.