Zatlers to promulgate dead security law amendments

President Valdis Zatlers will promulgate controversial amendments to two national security laws, which a July 7 referendum failed to revoke, but their power will be short-lived, the president’s press office announced July 16.

Zatlers will promulgate the amendments after his return from a July 17 visit to Brussels.

However, the following day both laws will return to their previous versions, because the parliament had already rescinded the amendments before the referendum.

“The Saeima understood and corrected its mistake,” Zatlers said in a press release, “rescinding the amendments that allowed third parties access to information held by security services that contain state secrets.”

The amendments, which in part would have broadened access to the information to include several ministers, were added in January by an emergency decree from the Cabinet of Ministers. The Saeima subsequently approved the amendments, but former President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga vetoed them. When the Saeima overrode her veto, Vīķe-Freiberga suspended implementation of the amendments to allow time for a referendum on the issue. On April 3, just days before a petition drive for the referendum was due to start, the parliament rescinded the amendments. However, the referendum had to continue but ultimately failed when not enough citizens voted July 7.

The referendum was viewed by some critics as a test of popular support for the parliament and the government of Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis. Although only 338,765 voters cast ballots, more than 95 percent were in favor of striking the amendments.

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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