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«Oligarch talks» publication law put on hold; will fabricated «risks» impact UGF?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Tuesday, 25 April, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee decided against putting up for a vote the legislative draft for the digitization and publication of the declassified portion of materials from the so-called oligarch talks criminal case.

At the same time, the committee decided to ask Justice Ministry’s work group to evaluate and offer solutions that would permit society, including mass media representatives to access materials from the criminal case.

With that, the majority of members of the Legal Affairs Committee decided not to vote on the legislative draft that would have allowed journalists to access materials of the scandalous criminal case and publish them for all to read. The legislative draft was submitted for discussion in the parliament was submitted by Unity’s Saeima faction and Latvian Association of Regions.

Unity faction deputy Andrejs Judins proposed voting on the legislative draft today. The majority of members of the committee, however, did not support his proposal.

Judins wrote on his Twitter account: ‘The real goal is not ‘slowing it’ – the goal is preventing amendments from being adopted’.

He added: ‘[Gundars] Daudze was visibly nervous during the meeting. He was worried publication of oligarch talks could affect the election process. He is well aware that if truth comes to light, UGF’s image would suffer.’

As it is known, representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and other institutions mentioned during the last meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee that publication of oligarch talks would breach presumption of innocence and private life protected by the Constitution.

Prosecutor Sandra Kerno had previously explained that relevant materials are already accessible to a specific range of people, including scientific personnel and people whose interests are impacted. She emphasized that it would be worth listening to the opinion of the Data State Inspectorate, considering that amendments proposed by the Saeima provide for disclosure of names and surnames. Kerno reminds that soon Latvia will have to adopt the EU regulation on privacy protection.

She said declassification of talks of the criminal case in question could potentially impact other people’s decision when testifying.

Deputy Chief of CPCB Ilze Jurča mentioned during the 14 March meeting that if the decision to publish materials of the case is made, it would be necessary to ensure legal protection for heads of different institutions. Jurča mentioned that heads of investigative institutions would be under constant risk of litigation for disclosure of details of people’s private lives.

As it is known, conversations held by infamous Latvian oligarchs and businessmen in Ridzene Hotel was one of the main pieces of evidence used in the so-called oligarchs case launched in 2011.

CPCB performed searches in several locations around Latvia, including in properties owned by influential politicians – Aivars Lembergs, Andris Šķēle and others. A search was also planned to be performed in the home of ex-politician Ainārs Šlesers.

CPCB spend several years investigating this case. In the end, however, it turned out that recorded conversations are not enough to raise charges. It was decided to end the criminal case.

This case, however, received second wind when Ir magazine published transcripts from talks recorded in Ridzene Hotel.


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