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Saturday 20.04.2019 | Name days: Mirta, Ziedīte
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Latvian television company employee fired after Russia Today incident

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Television employee Harijs Lavkinaitis has been fired from his job because of the interview to Russia Today shown in LTV News Service’s studio, LTV board member Ivars Priede told Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee during a meeting.

Lavkinaitis had violated his duties by lending LTV resources to a news outlet that is considered hostile to Latvia, said Priede.

Chairman of the committee Artuss Kaimiņš stressed again that precedents related to function of the National Electronic Mass Media Council prove that it is necessary to approve the new law of Public Electronic Mass Media Governance Law as soon as possible. Other participants, including Māris Kučinskis and Ināra Mūrniece, stressed that after today’s decision everyone should calm down and then tackle decisions again with cold reason.

LTV representatives had previously explained that letting Russia Today in LTV 3rd studio on 14 March was a personal and one-sided decision made by content production department employee Harijs Lavkinaitis’ personal decision.

LTV also explained that the employee had been approached about the possibility of renting a small studio in LTV two days prior to the incident. This employee agreed to the offer without coordinating the decision with higher-ups. This employee had also prepared an estimate, which was then approved by the director of the department. According to what the director said in relation to this, the employee had submitted the estimate only once the interview had already taken place. Opposite to his duties – asking lawyers to prepare an official document detailing the service – did not do this.

LTV board member Ivars Priede stressed during the meeting that unsanctioned use of equipment does not and cannot possibly affect the content shown during LTV broadcasts: «I would like to stress – this is a matter of equipment use and broadcasting, which is not in any way related to the actual content presented by LTV.»

On Thursday, 21 March, during LTV programme Rīta Panorāma Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš said the parliament will study this incident. LTV board members, representatives of the National Electronic Mass Media Council, as well as the people directly involved in the incident – Harijs Lavkinaitis, Gvido Zilūzis – have been invited to attend next week’s meeting of Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee. Kaimiņš said he was shocked about this situation, adding that someone should take responsibility by not only accepting punishment but also losing their job.

Latvia’s State Security Service has also condemned the use of LTV studio for RT needs. The service called this situation unacceptable and one that creates risks for the security of Latvia’s information space.

SSS representatives confirmed having information about the incident and having plans to investigate it. Cooperation of Latvian public media with Russian propaganda media could impact the image of the public media and Latvia’s international image, the service stresses.


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