Thursday, December 11, 2008

More mention of Dmitrijs Smirnovs detention

Latvia continues to appear in the international press in a negative or mocking light because of the detention of Dmitrijs Smirnovs almost a month ago.
The latest mention is in the political journal The New Statesman, which urges its readers to spend this coming Christmas, otherwise:

Such pessimism endangers the economy and would even be a criminal offence in Latvia, where a university economics lecturer, Dmitrijs Smirnovs, was arrested last month for telling his students, in a Darlingesque kind of way, that things were arguably pretty bad. Happily, Mr Smirnovs was released after two days and, while we do not condone enforcing economic optimism, it would be good to see a little of it here. For, paraphrasing Keynes, it is our gloom about the future that risks bringing about the very result we all hope to avoid.

The full article can be found here.
Meanwhile, Nadeem Walayat, writing in the British-based The Market Oracle financial website echos some of my feelings:

The response of Latvia's state police is reminiscent of the dark days of the USSR when the truth was only uttered in the confines of ones homes and any public announcements that did not tow the state line were met by arrest and a summary one way trips to the goolag(sic).

The whole post can be found here.
The prestigous French newspaper Le Monde has also published a story about the detention of Dmitrijs Smirnov.
Poland's Gazeta Wyborca also has a story, though what exactly it says, I have no idea :).
Meanwhile a Norwegian portal, Hegnar Online, puts it bluntly (loosely translating  its headline about Latvia): Here it is forbidden to ask questions about the economy.
I recently talked to a well-informed source close to Latvia's ruling circles and asked this person whether anyone cared about the disgrace that the Security Police actions had brought upon Latvia. My source essentially said that they were completely clueless and didn't think it mattered. Anyone suspect this country is run by provincial dimwits or worse??


Pierre said...

Sveiks Juri!

I can't help you with the Polish report, but how's your French? I found the article in Le Monde interesting. Morten Hansen of the Riga school of economics (my translation), another victim of DP tactics, claims a devaluation of the lat would be disastrous since many individuals and businesses, who earn their money in lats, have loans in euros.

Juris Kaža said...

I actually can deal with the French, had it in high school and a semester of French Lit in college

Pierre said...

I'm impressed!

We currently have a mortgage on an appartment in Riga (Purvciems). My brother-in-law and his family live there. When we bought 5 years ago, we actually debated in which currency to buy, we were living in Germany at the time so euros were tempting. As it turns out we got the loan in US dollars and shortly thereafter moved to the US.

Getting a bit off-topic a bit here, but the article made me wonder if we had made the right choice. I'm glad we're not living in Latvia right now, but the whole situation saddens me tremendously...