Advertisement

Latvia starts criminal proceedings against an EU Parliament lawmaker suspected of spying for Russia

HELSINKI (AP) — Latvia´s state security service has started criminal proceedings against an European Parliament lawmaker and a citizen of the Baltic country who is suspected of cooperating with Russian intelligence and security services, according to Latvian media reports Saturday.

Latvian media outlets reported that the security service, known by the abbreviation VDD, has been investigating the activities of Tatjana Ždanoka, 73, and her alleged Russia ties over the past several weeks since reports were published in January by Russian, Nordic and Baltic news sites saying that she has been an agent for the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, since at least 2004.

According to news agency LETA, the Latvian security service decided to start a criminal process against Ždanoka on Feb. 22. The security service couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Ždanoka has denied all the allegations against her.

The European Parliament said late January that it had opened an investigation into news reports that a Latvian member of the assembly — Ždanoka — has been working as a Russian agent for several years. The European Union’s legislative body, based in Strasbourg, France, said it was taking the allegations very seriously.

Following a joint investigation, the independent Russian investigative journalism site The Insider, its Latvian equivalent Re:Baltica, news portal Delfi Estonia, and Swedish newspaper Expressen published on Jan. 29 a number of emails that they said were leaked and showed Ždanoka's interactions with her handler.

Expressen claimed that Ždanoka has been spreading propaganda about alleged violations of the rights of Russians living in Baltic countries and arguing for a pro-Kremlin policy, among other things. She has also refused to condemn Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the paper said.

Latvia, a Baltic nation of 1.9 million people, and neighboring Estonia, are both home to a sizable ethnic Russian minority of about 25% of the population. Both countries are ex-Soviet republics.

Over the past few years, Moscow has routinely accused Latvia and Estonia of discriminating against their Russian-speaking populations.

Ždanoka's resume, which is posted on the European Parliament website, lists her as the president of the EU Russian-Speakers’ Alliance, a nongovernmental organization, since 2007. She was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004.