Former diplomat denies ties to Russian intelligence

A former senior diplomat in the Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C., is fighting an accusation that he has had ties to Russian intelligence services.

Pēteris Viņķelis, 36, and his brother are expected to ask the Latvian state prosecutor to investigate who this week sent an anonymous letter to members of the Latvian parliament. The letter alleges that Viņķelis and members of his family have worked for Russian intelligence services for years.

Viņķelis denied the allegation, according to Latvian media reports, and said he believes the letters are a politcally motivated provocation.

The anonymous letter also suggests that Viņķelis’ wife, who remains in the United States with their children, also has had ties to Russian intelligence.

Although the security office of the Latvian Parliament has been asked to investigate the allegation, several government officials told Latvian media they doubt the charges.

Since leaving his post in Washington, Viņķelis has worked with the Jaunais laiks political party of Prime Minister Einars Repše. After Repše became prime minister in November, Viņķelis served as a top adviser, but stepped down from that post Feb. 12 to pursue a career in the private sector.

He told Latvian media that his resignation was spurred neither by the allegations in the letter nor by recent disputes within the party.

Viņķelis served in the Latvian embassy in Washington from 1998 to 2002. Among other functions, he was an active supporter of Latvia’s drive for membership in the NATO defense alliance.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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