KGB methods suspected in eavesdropping affair

  • 2011-05-11
  • Staff and wire reports

Ainars Slesers focuses on bugs.

RIGA - The Prosecutor General’s Office is looking into the information that surfaced last week about the covert bugging of VIP suites and conference rooms at the Radisson Blu Ridzene Hotel in Riga, reports news agency LETA. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that no petitions have been submitted yet on this matter, and that the person making the allegation, Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way leader and MP Ainars Slesers, has not provided any evidence on his claims.
Slesers announced in an interview on the LNT program ‘900 sekundes’ on May 5 that Latvian intelligence services have been bugging rooms at the Ridzene hotel for several years.

Foreign embassies have so far not reacted to or turned to the Foreign Ministry over the accusations about possible covert listening devices in several hotel suites. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis’ (Unity) spokeswoman, Zanda Sadre, said that Dombrovskis was on vacation, and could not comment on the issue.
President Valdis Zatlers, after a meeting with Slesers, agreed that Slesers and the Norwegian owners of the Ridzene would have to officially request the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the suspected bugging of rooms there.
Slesers said that the president clearly stated that “this matter must be pushed forward.” Slesers added that the Norwegians are “disturbed at the developments, and that their reaction will be harsh.”

Employees at the prosecutor’s office have contacted the director general at Ridzene, said Radisson Blu Group spokesperson Aiga Lapina. She pointed out that management at Radisson Blu Group learned about the supposed tapping of VIP suites and a conference room from the mass media, and that no one had ever heard such a thing before. “We are open to all inspections, as such information is bad publicity for the hotel,” she added.
Slesers named several hotel suites that he said were tapped, where foreign and local high-ranking officials used to stay. He said several representatives from Latvia’s intelligence agencies were prepared to testify in the case, but they required political guarantees from the next president of Latvia.

This would certainly “cause major international pressure, and that several Latvian officials might have to step down now,” said Slesers. He went on to say that President Zatlers is the only politically neutral official at the moment, but he will have to prove in the time remaining until the presidential elections whether he is prepared to tackle serious political problems, which most probably means that he will have to “lock horns with several politicians.”
Zatlers will have to find out who ordered foreign officials’ conversations tapped, and foreign intelligence services will have to be involved in investigating the matter, stressed Slesers. “We have a situation where the state is run not by politicians but intelligence services,” said Slesers.

He also claimed that Latvia’s authorities had been tapping VIP suites and the conference hall “for several years.”
This, however, brings into question Slesers’ own motives, and possible previous involvement or knowledge, in the case and in why he’s bringing out this information only now, and not years earlier.

Saeima Deputy Chairman and National Security Commission Chairman Gundars Daudze (Union of Greens and Farmers) said “It is hard to comment on the matter, because I only know what the media have reported. If Mr. Slesers indeed has proof of what he said, he should turn to the authorities, as prescribed in the law,” Daudze said.
“I believe that the matter must be tackled legally, not politically. This means that the Saeima National Security Committee does not have to review it either,” said Daudze.