RIGA - The State Security Service has detained Ruslans Pankratovs, a former member of Riga City Council, on suspicions of publicly supporting Russia's crimes against Ukraine and its people and breaching international sanctions, LETA was told at the State Security Service.
Last weekend the State Security Service raided three locations in Riga and its vicinity. The suspect was detained on Saturday, July 30.
The arrest follows a criminal probe that was launched on July 29 over crimes against peace and public glorification and justification of war crimes, as well as violation of sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU).
Evidence obtained by investigators suggest that the suspect had been using Russian propaganda websites to justify Russia's war in Ukraine and war crimes committed by Russian troops. The person had also been spreading disinformation about Latvia and its allies in order to discredit them.
Pankratovs is also suspected of collaborating with a person sanctioned by the EU.
During the searches, the State Security Service seized a large amount of data carriers and documents, the content of which is now being analyzed.
The suspect has been remanded in custody. As LETA has learned, a district court in Riga on Monday ruled to leave Pankratovs in detention. Pankratovs has seven days to appeal his detention before Riga Regional Court.
Pankratovs, 53, was elected to Riga City Council in 2009 from the electoral list of Harmony Center and served as a councilor for several years. In 2018 he ran in the 13th Saeima elections on the Alternative ticket and in 2019 he ran for a seat in the European Parliament on the Action Party ticket.
According to information available at Firmas.lv, Pankratovs together with Vera Pankratova is a member of the nongovernmental organization the Russian World of Latvia. Several years ago they were members of the Association against Nazism.
According to information from LETA Archive, as a Riga councilor, Pankratovs in 2015 made business trips to Moscow where he met with high-ranked Russian officials to discuss cooperation between Riga City Council and the Moscow government. Opposition councilors questioned the usefulness of Pankratovs' numerous trips to Moscow, noting that they were financed with taxpayers' money. The opposition councilors were also surprised that a rank-and-file councilor and not some leading politician was traveling to Moscow on a regular basis.