Linda Kinstler. A suitcase filled with files implicating Latvian citizens as agents for the KGB, on loan to the former KGB headquarters from Latvia’s Center for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism, Riga, 2015

A few weeks ago, just before the dawn of the new year, I typed my Latvian national identification number into a crisp online database and watched as an index of more than 4,000 crumbling, yellowed index cards appeared on my screen. Some were marked with the telltale script of typewriters, staid and blotted, but most were covered in a sloping Cyrillic scrawl. All of them took the same bureaucratic form: alias, name, date and place of birth, category (“agent”), recruiter, and date of recruitment.

Alongside all these names, there was also a KGB phonebook, a counter-intelligence dictionary, a list of “freelance” personnel, and regulations for agency conduct and record-keeping.…  Seguir leyendo »

The heated exchanges between David Miliband and leading Conservatives over the proposed co-operation between Tory MEPs and the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom party in the European parliament seem, at first sight, to revolve around arcane historical issues. The rightwing, nationalist Latvians, seen by the Tories as partners at Strasbourg, stand accused of supporting the parade of war veterans that takes place each year on 16 March in Riga, the Latvian capital. This would not be a problem were it not for the fact that the parade includes former soldiers who fought in the Latvian Waffen SS. Worse, some of the volunteers who served in the Waffen SS were implicated in the mass murder of Latvia’s Jews.…  Seguir leyendo »

The sight of SS veterans marching down the main avenue of the capital city of a member of Nato and the European Union is hardly a sight to bring joy to the heart of a British political leader. Yet just a few days ago, Conservative chairman Eric Pickles saw fit in an interview on Radio 4 to rush to the defence of the Latvian «For Fatherland and Freedom» party which is among the staunchest supporters of precisely such an event that takes place annually in Riga every 16 March.

The simple explanation is the hackneyed cliche that politics makes strange bedfellows, and that Pickles felt obliged to defend his new partners in the European Conservatives and Reformists group of the European parliament in Strasbourg.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Simon Tisdall (THE GUARDIAN, 28/10/08):

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, spent a couple of days last week reassuring the Baltic republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – that fellow Nato members would stand with them, shoulder to shoulder, should they face Georgia-style aggression from close neighbour Russia. His pledge, undoubtedly sincere, was not entirely convincing.

Mullen does not speak for key European states such as France, Germany and Italy, whose leaders have been notably weak-kneed about punishing Moscow for its August incursions into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, led efforts to block a US-backed Nato membership plan for Georgia and Ukraine earlier this year.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Gyula Hegyi, a Hungarian socialist member of the European parliament (THE GUARDIAN, 24/09/08):

Outside the Soviet Union, communist Poland was the strongest member of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet-led alliance that bound eastern Europe between 1955 and 1991. The very name of the treaty underlined Poland’s special role in it. Most Poles disliked Russian rule, but many thought that the Soviets at least could defend them and their newly gained western territories against the Germans.

Today a new kind of Warsaw Pact emerges, this time with a strong anti-Russian and pro-US profile. Poland and the three Baltic republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – harmonise their policy with regard to their status as super-ally to the US, their suspicion of Russia and their hidden frustration at «soft» European foreign policy.…  Seguir leyendo »