RIGA - U.S. lobbyists for the high-profile bribery suspects - lawyer Inara Vilkaste and her divorced husband, former State Revenue Service official Vladimirs Vaskevics - have been paid between $30,000 and $50,000, says the TV3 broadcast show ‘Neka personiga’ (Nothing Personal), based on information received from the Latvian community in Chicago, reports LETA.
A year ago the lobbyists attempted to forestall Latvian President Andris Berzins’ visit to the United States to attend the NATO summit in Chicago. The lobbyists tried to sling mud at Latvia by organizing protests against alleged violations of Vaskevics and Vilkaste’s human rights by the Latvian authorities.
The lobbyists were tasked with staging various activities in places that were to be visited by Berzins, accusing Latvia of human rights violations. Already on the first day of the U.S. visit, two out of three U.S. television channels that interviewed Berzins also inquired about the human rights of Vilkaste and Vaskevics. “This was a surprise to me, and not a very nice one,” admitted Berzins.
Berzins said that the concerns about the violation of human rights in Latvia were unfounded.
Chicago attorney Thomas Kanepa, who demanded that the Latvian government discontinue the “injustice” in the cases against Vilkaste and Vaskevics while NATO was spending millions of dollars on the protection of Latvia, suggested that Latvia had no place in the alliance at all. The organizers and participants in various events organized during the NATO summit were sent e-mails demanding that any activities involving Latvia not be supported. As a result, the opening of a contemporary Latvian art exhibition at the Driehaus Museum in Chicago was almost derailed.
The lobbyists also tried to use former U.S. President Bill Clinton, husband of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in their campaign, distributing photographs showing Vilkaste together with Clinton.
Vilkaste herself says that she was surprised to find out about all this. She insists that an organization, to which her family turned for assistance, organized the protests. Vilkaste says she did not know that Berzins’ visit to the NATO summit would be used to generate publicity for her experience.
Vilkaste says that the lobbyists were not hired by her or Vaskevics. She says such questions should be forwarded to the ‘Justice for Inara’ committee, headed by the former Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer.