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Cablegate: Government Moves to Dismiss Anti-Corruption Chief

VZCZCXRO1974
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRA #0771 2901417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171417Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4428
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RIGA 000771

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KCOR KCRM LG
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT MOVES TO DISMISS ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF

Ref: A) RIGA 723 B) RIGA 731 C) RIGA 741

1. Summary: In a closed meeting on October 16, the Latvian
government supported the dismissal of Aleksejs Loskutovs, the chief
of the Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) on
the grounds of his unsuitability to continue to hold his position.
They made the decision after an ad hoc committee, headed by
Prosecutor General Janis Maizitis, made no recommendation on action
and after Maizitis separately announced that he found no evidence of
criminal activity by Loskotovs. Maizitis publicly criticized the
dismissal, as did former president Vike-Freiberga. Current President
Valdis Zatlers said October 17 that Prime Minister Kalvitis' steps
against Loskutovs are excessive given on the allegations presented,
and that a reprimand may have been more appropriate. The parliament
will make the final decision about whether to dismiss Loskutovs, and
this October 18 vote is increasingly seen as a barometer of
confidence in the government. End summary.

2. In an unsurprising move, the GOL supported the dismissal of KNAB
Chief Aleksejs Loskutovs. News services state that the GOL evaluated
violations at the KNAB that the State Audit Office identified,
Loskutovs' previous job performance, and his conduct after Kalvitis
suspended him pursuant to Audit Office's report.

3. After Kalvitis suspended Loskutovs in late September 2007 the GOL
tasked an ad hoc committee, headed by Maizitis, with studying the
necessity of dismissing Loskutovs. The report was submitted on
October 15, but made no recommendations, as Maizitis said the group
was created without making clear how it should carry out its
function. Separately, Maizitis stated that his office's
investigation showed no grounds for opening a criminal probe against
Loskutovs because there were no criminal offences. Maizitis
continues to be a vocal opponent of the dismissal and characterizes
the government's decision as "political."

4. President Zatlers met with Kalvitis October 17 to hear the PM's
rationale for removing Loskutovs from office. The president
officially remains neutral about the dismissal, but stated following
the meeting that the actions against Loskutovs to date have been
excessive, and said a reprimand may have sufficed. Zatlers also
urged members of parliament to approach this issue responsibly and
said that the vote would indicate the body's confidence in the
government.

5. The Saeima will now make the final decision as to whether to
dismiss Loskutovs. The October 18 vote requires a simple majority.
Although opposition parties in the Saeima vow to do everything they
can to keep Loskutovs in office, previous voting on such
controversial issues has demonstrated strong coalition discipline.


6. Comment: The process that Kalvitis launched last month is
continuing on course. Along the way, though, the political dynamic
has changed. Loskotovs has not gone quietly and Maizitis has spoken
out. Now the President has weighed in. As the ground has shifted,
Kalvitis may find he has overplayed his hand.

BAILEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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