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Cablegate: Opposition Nominates Aivars Endzins for President in Last

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRA #0402 1451544
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251544Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4060
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RIGA 000402

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL LG
SUBJECT: Opposition nominates Aivars Endzins for President in last
minute move


1. (U) Summary: On May 24, the last day allowed for the nomination
of presidential candidates, opposition party "Harmony Centre"
(Saskanas Centrs, SC) unexpectedly nominated as its presidential
candidate Aivars Endzins, former Chair of the Constitutional Court.
Though his name has been surfacing as a strong potential
presidential candidate long before official nominations, none of the
ruling coalition parties had publicly considered him. Harmony
Centre Chairman Nils Usakovs stated that his party decided to
nominate Endzins because during the 10 years of his chairmanship
over the Constitutional Court he has demonstrated the ability to
take politically independent and difficult decisions, proved his
ability to stand above all political passions and fights, and has
very high trust ratings in various circles, including among
academics and civil society, and in the public at large. After
Endzins' nomination, Sandra Kalniete (opposition party New Era's
(JL) candidate) officially removed her candidacy and called on MPs
to cast their vote for Endzins, although New Era has not formally
endorsed Endzins. Two parties of the ruling coalition - the People's
Party (TP) and the Unions of Greens and Farmers - commented that
Endzins' nomination has not changed anything and the coalition
parties strongly support their candidate, Valdis Zatlers. Some in
the coalition may try to use Endzins' background in the communist
party to suggest he is a poor choice, but his record of supporting
Latvian Independence at the end of the 1980's will likely make that
a tough sell. End summary.

2. (U) BIOGRAPHY: Aivars Endzins was born in Riga on December 8,
1940. In 1968, he graduated from the Law Department of the State
University of Latvia, later pursued a doctoral degree in Moscow and
in 1972, was awarded a Dr.Jur. by the Law Department of the
University of Moscow. From 1963-1990 he was a member of the
Communist Party and for some time served as a secretary of the
Communist Party at the Latvian State University. From the very
beginning of Latvia's attempts to become independent, Aivars Endzins
was actively involved in the restoration of Latvia's sovereignty and
statehood: in 1988 he became a member of the Popular Front (Tautas
Fronte), from 1990-1991 he was a member of the Latvian Democratic
Labor Party, and also was a member of the Latvian National Movement
for Independence (LNNK). Endzins was elected in 1990 to the Supreme
Council as a member of the Popular Front and was among those who
voted for Latvia's independence. In 1993, Endzins was among the
founders of the political party Latvia's Way and was elected to the
5th and 6th Saeimas as a candidate of that party. During his years
in the Saeima, he actively participated in the Saeima Legal Affairs
Committee and was a member of the Parliamentarian Delegation to the
OSCE. In October 1996, he was elected as a judge on the
Constitutional Court and resigned his seat in the Saeima. In
December 1996, he was chosen acting Chair of the Constitutional
Court and in 2000, was elected Chairperson of the Constitutional
Court, being then re-elected in 2003. In December 2006 his term in
office expired. Additionally, he was an associate member of the EC
commission "Democracy through Law" and since 2000, has served on the
editorial board of the journal "Administrative and Criminal
Justice." Currently he is a law professor and dean of the Law
Department at "Turiba", a private university. He speaks Russian and
English fluently.
3. (U) Since Endzins' nomination by Harmony Centre, he has received
praise as a qualified candidate from several well-known public
figures and political experts, and his candidacy appears to have
broad public support (in 24 May's political TV talk show "What is
Going On in Latvia?", he received 4-5 times more support than the
other two candidates in an unscientific presidential candidate poll
among viewers). He has earned a favorable reputation during his ten
years of chairmanship of the Constitutional Court, during which the
Court made a number of politically-difficult decisions, many of them
not favored by the ruling parties. Among those decisions were the
removal of restrictions on broadcasting in minority languages by
public broadcasters, ruling as illegitimate provisions which
prohibited mothers of new-born babies to receive full child care
allowances and work at the same time, and removal of a number of
provisions restricting rights to freedom of assembly. Since leaving
the Constitutional Court, he has continued to be an active opponent
and critic of the ruling coalition. Endzins has publicly stated
that there are oligarchs in Latvia and stated which individuals
qualified as an oligarch (thus losing any possibility of official
support from the ruling coalition, as all three names he mentioned
are closely connected to ruling coalition parties).
4. (U) One of consequences of Endzins' candidacy is the withdrawal
of New Era's (JL) candidate Sandra Kalniete and her support for
Endzins. JL has not made an official statement about supporting
Endzins and stated that Kalniete's removal of her candidature and
call to vote for Endzins was her individual decision. However, JL
Chair Krisjanis Karins stated that New Era will most likely vote for
Endzins.

Waser

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