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.

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