Case dropped against anti-Semitic article

  • 2001-01-18
  • Jorgen Johansson
RIGA - A storm in the Latvian media that exploded last year may now be buried after Riga's chief prosecutor told reporters on Jan. 15 that there is no evidence to go on and that the case would probably be closed.

The chief prosecutor of the Riga Regional Court, Janis Drobisevskis,

was presenting the results of an investigation by the Riga prosecutor's office into racial remarks in an infamous cover article entitled "Jews Rule the World" that was published in the popular Latvian business magazine Kapitals last August.

The publication cannot be regarded as being geared toward inciting racial or ethnic hatred, he told reporters.

Grigorijs Krupnikovs, Co-chair of Riga's Jewish Community, has not forgotten how the Jewish community in Latvia reacted to the article. "I am still very upset," he said after the ruling.

"I believe that the prosecutors are dramatically wrong," Krupnikovs said, adding that the discussion that followed was only related to the usage of the outdated and insulting word 'zhids.' Few more constructive issues, such as the current relationship between Latvians and Jews, were approached.

The magazine's cover featured a grotesque stereotype of a Jewish man covered in gold jewelry holding the world in his hands.

The article was written by journalist Normunds Lisovskis. It suggests that Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by behaving badly throughout history.

Lisovskis has not been under investigation, even though the article was condemned by top government officials and the embassies of the United States and Israel.

Criticism fell on the editor of Kapitals, Guntis Rozenbergs, who resigned his position shortly after the article was published but who still works at the magazine as 'macro- economics editor.'

He told The Baltic Times in August that he did not expect anything like the kind of reaction that followed the article's publication. The disturbing cover illustration was, as he put it, "not a caricature, but a montage."

Prominent Latvian Jewish businessmen were interviewed for the article. Their words were skewed to support the prejudice of the author.

Sol Bukingolts was one of those people. He was interviewed for the article, he said, under the pretext that he was a businessman and nothing else.

"It was very, very disturbing when the article came out," he said. "I have dealt with Kapitals before, and it came as a shock to me, like snow in summer, to see such an article in the magazine."

The Constitutional Protection Bureau, which conducted the investigation into the article, ruled that criminal charges must be brought against Rozenbergs.

"I did not plan for this article to be offensive at all," Rozenbergs told The Baltic Times after the chief prosecutor's announcement. "I was trying to show some of the ways of Jewish life and business."

He did not say he regretted running the article, but he did admit he would think twice before printing it if he knew beforehand the reaction it would cause.

"I think we learned an important lesson when it comes to printing this kind of article in Latvia," he said.