Kristovskis survives no-confidence vote; party ousts Latvian-American

Latvia’s newly installed foreign minister has escaped losing his job after the Saeima defeated a Nov. 9 no-confidence vote.

Opposition politicians wanted Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis removed as foreign minister because of an e-mail exchange he had with Aivars Slucis, a nationalist Latvian-American critic of the ethnic Russian presence in Latvia.

The motion to oust Kristovskis failed on a 51-36 vote, with 12 members of parliament abstaining.

Kristovskis became the country’s foreign minister Nov. 3 when the parliament confirmed the new government led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis. Kristovskis is head of Pilsoniskā savienība (Civic Union, or PS), which is one of the political parties that make up the centrist Vienotība (Unity) bloc.

Members of the center-left and pro-Russian Saskaņas Centrs (Harmony Centre), as well as of the conservative Par labu Latviju! (For a Good Latvia!), pushed for the no-confidence vote after the independent journalistic website Pietiek published fragments of an e-mail exchange between Kristovskis and Slucis. The website is led by the controversial investigative journalist Lato Lapsa.

Slucis, a doctor in Minnesota, in October 2009 addressed an e-mail to PS members in which he expressed his opinion about ethnic Russians and their influence in his homeland. The e-mail’s subject line read “Vai latvieši padodas?” (Are Latvians surrendering?).

“I travel to Latvia only routinely because, as a doctor, I could not treat Russians the same as Latvians in Latvia and that is not allowed and that is why I am waiting,” Slucis wrote in Latvian, according to a print-out of the exchange published by Pietiek.

Kristovsksis replied to Slucis and other PS members, noting that he agrees with Slucis’ observations. However, he also wrote that hysteria does not help and that PS politicians are defending ethnic Latvian interests. The response was copied to other PS members.

Defending his position, Kristovskis in a Nov. 5 announcement published on his party’s website said that he has never judged people based on their nationality and that he respects and tolerates people of all ethnicities. Kristovskis also noted that his e-mail response was not meant as an expression of support for Slucis, but a plea for PS members to end a discussion that was not in agreement with party goals.

Meanwhile, according to Latvian media reports, the board of directors of Pilsoniskā savienība on Nov. 8 voted to oust Slucis from the party and to return LVL 11,665 in donations the doctor made in 2009 and 2010. Slucis could not be reached for comment.

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

2 thoughts on “Kristovskis survives no-confidence vote; party ousts Latvian-American

  1. I’m an American whose grandfather was prominent in Latvia before leaving in WWII. I’ve seen the extreme racism of Latvians abroad at home and abroad and Russians as well, so neither group of people is going to win a ‘most-tolerant’ award. I’ve seen Russians act like human beings in Latvia, and others act like monsters. I don’t blame Russians for not wanting to go back to the brutal, dictatorial disaster that is their own country, although a man with an education who isn’t a drunk could make a decent living. However, Latvia is a very small nation with a very small group of people to keep an ancient tradition alive, and why Russians feel they have a right to interfere is incomprehesible. If Russians had any pride or consideration, they would either go to their own country or completely assimilate in Latvia. It’s just bad luck that Latvia isn’t Lithuania or Estonia and that Stalin moved Russians in. Russia is one of the largest countries on earth and yet they still need Latvia? Why is this exactly?

  2. Very simple Mr. Glukis. Latvia just like Lithuania and Estonia are next to the Baltic Sea. As for Latvias sea port Liepaja, it does not have any complications with it’s seaport freezing up which most of Russias seaports do. If you remember reading about the Russio-Finnish War (1939-40) Stalin attacked Finland bacause Finland did not bow to Stalins demands of giving free acces to the Baltic Sea through one of it’s ports. The other reason (of many reasons) why there are so many Russians in Latvia is that if one has a plan to take over an area as broad as the Baltic coast then the enemy usually attacks the center and then moves it’s troops to the north, Estonia and south Lithuania. Last reason why Russins demand that the Baltic area belongs to them is because of Peter The Great. Russian expanssionism.

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