The law's the law

  • 2002-08-29
  • Aaron Eglitis
Deputy Janis Adamsons from the Social Democratic Workers Party was barred from standing in the next parliamentary elections in a decision handed down on Aug. 20 by the Latvian Supreme Court. He joins Juris Bojars, the head of the party, as members of the Social Democrats banned due to connections with the KGB. The Center for the Documentation of Totalitarian Regimes had established a link between the Soviet border guard, and the KGB, making Adamsons, a former officer in the border guard, ineligible to stand in Parliament under Latvian law. Latvian law proscribes former members of the Soviet security services, or foreign intelligence services, in addition to members of the Communist Party after January 13, 1991, from holding government office.

A former Minister of the Interior and once a deputy with rival party Latvia's Way, Adamsons didn't see the relationship between the border guards and the KGB. He believed he had the right to continue to stand for election because he had done so in the past, or since he had been above the law before, he was above the law now, an argument that did not sway the court.

In an editorial in Diena on Aug. 19, Aivars Ozolins quoted the former head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, who said in 1973 that "the border control is primarily under Chekist forces."

As the list of people prohibited to hold office in Latvia continues to grow, one of the most infamous politicians in the country, Tatjana Zhdanoka, a member of the left-wing PCTVL (For Human Rights and Harmony in a United Latvia) who also cannot stand for office because of past ties to the Communist Party, is currently challenging the law in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. No one can predict how the European Court of Human Rights will rule on Zhdanoka's case.

Zhdanoka openly worked against an independent Latvia in 1991 as a leader of the Communist Party.

Adamson's time as a politician is best remembered for falsely claiming that then Prime Minister Andris Skele was involved in a pedophile scandal. Skele's government fell two months later. Some members of Parliament moved to start criminal proceedings against Adamsons but could not gain enough support to remove his immunity from prosecution.

A gun-toting law professor and former KGB major, Juris Bojars believes the proceedings against Adamsons were motivated by revenge, retribution carried out by political enemies that Adamsons has accumulated by calling members of government pedophiles.

The law forbidding former KGB members from participating in government recognized the difference between a member of the Communist Party before the independence movement and the people who were actually carrying out the repressive acts against people in Latvia. Border control agents played a role in the repressive KGB structure.

Adamsons has been rightly barred from participation in the next elections, and Latvia has the right to domestically decide whether to allow people who worked for a repressive security apparatus stand for election in a democratic country.