Friday, August 28, 2009

Former banker flips out on democracy??!

Inesis Feiferis, an experienced banker who recently resigned as head of the Latvian Mortgage and Land Bank (Latvijas Hipotēku un zemes banka) told the portal Delfi that "many democratic norms should be restricted" during the present economic crisis.
In the article, the ex-banker, who was involved in the state takover of crisis-ridden Parex Bank (it was formally made a subsidiary of the state-owned Mortgage and Land Bank) does not elaborate on which norms he meant. However, freedom of speech, the press and assembly do come to mind as core democratic norms and values.
Feiferis seems to suggest that a government with emergency powers should be formed to adopt unpopular measures quickly and without needless discussion. Whether this means there would be censorship or punishment of media criticism of such measures is unclear. The apparent lack of aggressive questioning of the ex-banker by Delfi's reporters is yet another example of the spotty reporting on this site.
So I will give Inesis Feiferis the benefit of the doubt. When he resigned, Feiferis seemed to imply that he was tired, perhaps burned out by the demands of his job at the Mortgage and Land Bank, especially after the Parex rescue.
The statement on restricting democratic norms is so batshit on its face that I do suspect it is the careless chatter of a burnout. Take a needed rest.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Security police drop charges against Smirnovs

The Latvian Security Police (Drošības policija/DP) have dropped their case against the economist Dmitrijs Smirnovs, who was jailed for questioning late last year because of critical remarks about the Latvian banking system and the national currency, the lat, according to media reports.
Pending completion of their investigation, the DP banned Smirnovs from foreign travel and, by his own admission, had a chilling effect on his public statements and publications after the arrest. The case brought disgrace on Latvia as a violator of free expression and was the inspiration for this blog.
Smirnovs told journalists he has not changed his pessimistic view of the Latvian economy -- last October, he advised people not to keep their money in Latvian banks or in lats in a panel discussion reported by a Ventspils newspaper, triggering his detention more than a month later.
The DP also called in Valters Fridenbergs, a musician, for questioning because of jokes he cracked to a concert audience about not running off to the nearest cash dispenser (bankomat) because of worries about the Latvian economy and currency. Charges against him were dropped some months ago.