Vilnitis behind crackdown on CPB staff

  • 2010-11-03
  • From wire reports

Department heads claim Normunds Vilnitis is incompetent.

RIGA - Following Corruption Prevention Bureau deputy chief Alvis Vilks’ interview with the news agency LETA, an official investigation was opened against him, and the Bureau’s chief, Normunds Vilnitis, ordered a search of Vilk’s office in search of a dictaphone which held the recorded interview. The interview took place in mid-September, when Vilks was standing in for Vilnitis for a few days while Vilnitis was away, reports LETA.

Vilks on Nov. 1 said that he had already provided his explanations in the case, however, the investigation continues. Vilnitis was apparently dissatisfied with several of the statements Vilks made during the interview, which is why he asked the Bureau’s press office to give him the recording of the interview. The press office refused to do so, explaining that this required Vilks’ consent. The search followed soon after.

Members of the CPB’s Internal Security Bureau searched Vilks’ office, trying to find the recorder, Vilks confirmed. However, the interview was already deleted as, it was claimed, LETA had reported the interview correctly, and no corrections were necessary.

Vilnitis ordered the investigation because, in his opinion, Vilks’ statements about relations within the Corruption Prevention Bureau contradicted decisions of the National Security Council. LETA has not been able to find out what exactly was decided at the said National Security Council’s meeting, but, according to unofficial information, no employees of the CPB may talk to the media about what is going on at the bureau.

This sounds believable to LETA because, in trying to arrange an interview with Vilks, they received vague and unmotivated rejections until Vilnitis was away for several days and Vilks became acting head of the Bureau, when the interview could finally take place.

Vilks believes that a new official investigation will be opened against him and the other Corruption Prevention Bureau deputy chief, Juta Strike, because he and Strike have lately made many statements to the media regarding tension in the bureau, which started when Vilnitis took the job as chief, and has now reached its climax.

Vilks believes that the current investigation may have been called in the wake of Vilks’ statements about Ainars Slesers (Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way) who, in turn, had threatened that Corruption Prevention Bureau officials should not meddle politics, or else they would get into trouble.

The National Security Council decided that Vilnitis’ plans to reorganize the CPB did not exceed his authority, however, both deputies of Vilnitis - Strike and Vilks - as well as heads of the bureau’s six departments, released a statement to the media, questioning Vilnitis’ ability to efficiently run the Bureau.

Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis’ (New Era) press secretary, Liga Krapane, said that Vilnitis was requested to improve his reorganization plan for CPB, keeping in mind that in setting up a regional division within CPB’s structure, any overlapping of functions must be avoided, as well as expansion in management. The multi-institution task force that evaluated Vilnitis’ plan points out the same. According to Krapane, Vilnitis has agreed, and has already submitted another reorganization plan - one that meets the prime minister’s stipulation.

Aleksejs Loskutovs, former chief at the CPB, on Oct. 29 called reforms for CPB planned by Vilnitis, “slapdash,” noting that Vilnitis’ reorganization plans were not discussed internally at CPB, something that should have been done. The reform package, which he referred to as Vilnitis’ “amateur hour,” is debatable from a legal standpoint and as to its usefulness. Actually, CPB’s capability would be curbed, Loskutovs added.

A number of top-level officials at CPB, in an open letter, urged Dombrovskis to refuse authorization for the reorganization plan drawn up by Vilnitis. The letter states that by using the heightening of the fight against corruption in regions as a cover, major changes are in the works within CPB which would result in having an effectively-functioning office transformed into a meek, merely formal anti-corruption unit.

The open letter points out that Vilnitis’ actions and decisions lead one to believe that his “true goal” is lessening CPB’s capability, ultimately bringing about its demise.