[OPE] Latvia and the Financial Crises

From: Martin Kragh <Martin.Kragh@hhs.se>
Date: Tue Nov 25 2008 - 17:19:09 EST

Dear all,

Thought it would be interesting for you to know, that Latvian security
police recently arrested and detained a lecturer in economics who
questioned the stability of the country's currency during the current
financial turmoil on global markets. Being a EU country, it is
surprising to note that no other members of the union have reacted
against this blatant attack on free speech. It should also be
interesting for you to know, that it was Russian speaking media in
Latvia who began reporting on this issue, before other national journals
caught on. In the Baltic countries, one needs to remember that political
divisions between the major ethnic groups, also tend to reemerge in what
is actually reported in their respective media outlets. One should
therefore always try to look at both, before drawing any conclusions
about an issue. Now all Latvian media is reporting on the issue, even
though many seem to have forgotten about 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1998, when
they had major financial and / or banking crisis, and hundreds of
thousands of people lost their savings.

An English language source (blog) is attached below.

All the best


"The Latvian Security Police have reverted to the same kind of
harassment and intimidation of free speech as practiced by the Soviet
KGB in the 1980s. KGB tactics at that time involved detention,
questioning and "prophylatic work" against dissidents exercising their
freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Helsinki Accords and
international human rights conventions.
A university lecturer was arrested for two days for making comments at a
public discussion of the economy, while a musician was questioned for
joking about taking money out of a bank during a concert. Criminal
proceedings have been started against both. In addition, the Security
Police warned that they could act against anyone making comments on the
internet that agreed with Ventspils University College lecturer Dmitrijs
Smirnovs (he suggested that it was unwise to keep funds in Latvian banks
or in Latvian lats) or that asserted that the Security Police were
returning Latvia to totalitarianism by repressing free speech.
What has happened in the last few days in Latvia, to my mind, amounts to
a serious free speech emergency in a purportedly democratic European
Union. The tone of statements, as reported by the Latvian press (this
repression has been front page news in Latvian newspapers) by the
Security Police indicates that they may be preparing for more detentions
and interrogations."
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Received on Tue Nov 25 17:27:18 2008

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