Sunday, February 14, 2010

Latvian State Chancellery asks Security Police to hound news agency reporter

The Latvian State Chancellery has reportedly asked the notorious Latvian Security Police to start surveillance on a senior reporter with the news agency LETA after she obtained details of how European Union (EU) funds were to be spent for "increasing the administrative capacity" of the agency.
Emilija Kozule, a reporter covering the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, told this blogger she was informed by a Saeima deputy that Gunta Veismane, the head of the State Chancellery, had threatened to have the Security Police wiretap Kozule' s phone calls and otherwise put her under surveillance on suspicion of disclosing confidential government information.
It is not clear whether a budget for spending EU funds can be considered confidential.
Kozule obtained the budget details during a meeting of the Saeima European Affairs committee on February 8 and published a story detailing the planned spending of LVL 6.39 million (almost USD 13 million). Members of the committee, who also had access to the budget, had expressed skepticism about some of the spending projects, including sums for various ill-defined "evaluations" and " assessments" .
One item proposes spending LVL 20 000 (USD 40 000) "evaluation of the possibility of centralization of support functions for the requirements of a functional audit." The budget, as reported by Kozule in her LETA story, contains many other items with similar phrasing.
The Latvian Security Police (Drošības Policija) gained notoriety in November, 2008, when they detained an economics instructor for public remarks made about the Latvian banking system and the currency, the lat.

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