Saeima sacks Loskutovs, keeps 2 ministers

The head of Latvia’s anti-corruption bureau has been fired by the Saeima, while two government ministers survived votes of no confidence June 29.

Aleksejs Loskutovs, under investigation by the government for alleged mismanagement of funds in the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas birojs, KNAB), was sacked on a 52-40 vote.

Earlier in the day, during a special meeting, the Saeima rejected calls of no confidence in Defense Minister Vinets Veldre and Agriculture Minister Mārtiņš Roze. Veldre survived on a 47-41 vote, with three abstentions, while Roze survived on a 49-41 vote, with two abstentions, according to the Saeima’s Web site.

Loskutovs, who according to media reports saw several hundred supporters rally outside the Saeima building, was held responsible for the disappearance of at least LVL 135,000 from the KNAB. However, his supporters argued that Loskutovs has been targeted by the ruling coalition because of his bureau’s success in exposing corruption in the government.

Attempts to removed Loskutovs late last year helped lead to November’s “umbrella revolution” demonstration in Rīga and was a factor in former Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis being forced from power.

The bureau’s assistant director, Juta Strīķe, is expected to fill the director’s job for the time being, the Baltic News Service reported.

The calls for votes of no confidence in Roze and Veldre were initiated by opposition members of parliament. Opposition party New Era (Jaunais laiks) pushed for Roze’s removal, blaming the agriculture minister for problems in Latvia’s dairy and fishing industries. The new party Civil Union (Pilsoniskā sabiedrība) asked for Veldre’s head, saying he has shamed Latvia with his pronouncement and actions. The strangest of these, the party said in a June 13 press release, was the defense minister’s wish to created a mounted honor guard.

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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