Gang of former KGB agents operating in Latvia
A criminal group composed of Soviet-era KGB agents and former and present special service agents are operating in Latvia, the country’s prime minister said Thursday. “We know people, their names, concrete crimes, we have testimonies, but we haven’t detained anyone yet,” Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said.
The criminal gang – allegedly linked to certain politicians – is believed to be involved in extortion and drug trafficking in the small Baltic EU country, he said. Kalvitis did not disclose any names, but called on President Valdis Zatlers to hold a special national security council meeting “as soon as possible.” Theoretically Kalvitis’ allegations could be true, said Lolita Cigane, a corruption expert at Providus Center.
While one former KGB employee tries to be elected Russia’s next PM, others have taken a different path that is usually the plot of a James Bond film.
Latvia extends peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan
Latvia has decided to extend its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan for another year, allocating $14 million in funds, the governmental press service said Tuesday. The ex-Soviet Baltic state plans to send a total of 260 troops into the country in two alternating troop contingents, the press service said. At the moment, 100 Latvian troops are deployed in northern Afghanistan as part of the UN peacekeeping mission. A NATO and European Union member, Latvia withdrew from Iraq in June.
This year has been the bloodiest period in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led campaign to overthrow the Taliban movement in 2001, as radical Islamist forces step up attacks in an attempt to topple the government and drive foreign troops out of the country.
Latvia is certainly a country of contradictions with the World Bank ranking it as the 22nd best country for business, while it also has the most expensive chicken meat, sausages, milk, eggs, bread and sugar in the Baltic States and is facing increasing accusations of corruption.
Russian Parliament’s Upper House Ratifies Latvia Border Pact
The upper house of Russia’s parliament Wednesday ratified a border treaty with Latvia that allows Russia to retain a swathe of land contested by Latvian nationalists. The treaty gives Russia control of an area known as the Pytalovo district to Russians and Abrene to Latvians that was seized by the Soviet Union after World War II.
Latvian nationalists protested the agreement as a sellout when the Latvian parliament signed it earlier this year, but supporters hope the agreement will help improve often-chilly relations with Russia. Moscow frequently complains that Latvia discriminates against its large ethnic-Russian population and regards Latvia’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union as Western encroachment on Russia’s border.
The 117-1 vote by the Federation Council sends the measure to President Vladimir Putin for signing. Latvia already has ratified and signed the measure. The situations sounds similar to that of some Finns and their belief that Karelia should be returned to Finland, which was also an area taken by Russia at the end of World War Two and has caused extensive diplomatic problems recently after some officials made claims regarding a secret buy-out offer made by Russia in the 1950s.