Repše quits defense post in protest

Einars Repše, leader of the conservative Jaunais laiks (New Era) party, has resigned as Latvia’s defense minister to protest the prime minister’s Dec. 21 announcement that the state anti-corruption bureau has begun a criminal investigation of Repše personal finances.

Despite an attempt by Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga to soothe Repše, the former Bank of Latvia governor announced Dec. 22 that he is stepping down from the Ministry of Defense, the LETA news service reported.

His decision follows the announcement by Prime Minsiter Aigars Kalvītis that the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas birojs) is investigating Repše’s finances, a topic of much speculation over the past year.

In news reports, Repše said Kalvītis’ decision to go public with the information is motivated by politics. Kalvītis, a member of the Tautas partija (People’s Party), heads a coalition government.

Speaking on state television Dec. 21, Repše said the investigation by the anti-corruption bureau is merely a formality.

Aleksejs Loskutovs, head of the anti-corruption bureau, said he was disappointed that elected officials are publicizing information without the approval of the bureau, LETA reported. However, Kalvītis said that in the interest of openness in government he would have done so for any other minister under investigation.

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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