RIGA, 13 Mar – RIA Novosti. Journalist Andrei Tatarchuk, whose house was searched by the Latvian State Security Service in connection with cooperation with the portals Baltnews.lv and Sputnik Latvia, said that the KGB era came in the republic, when repressive methods were fought against dissent and freedom of speech.
Tatarchuk spoke at a conference organized by the Russian Union of Latvia, which is dedicated to the persecution of seven journalists who cooperate with the portals Baltnews.lv and Sputnik Latvia. “I spoke with the SGB officers, they said that political persecution is being carried out in Russia. And I will say that the difference between at times there is no KGB and what is happening now (in Latvia). We clearly see political repressions against dissidents and freedom of speech, “the journalist said.
According to Tatarchuk, the status of a suspect has not been applied to him. “I would like to say that I do not have the status of a suspect – although I, like our colleagues, continue to cooperate with the portals Baltnews.lv and Sputnik, but maybe this status will still appear. I don’t want to make it public, because I am worried about my parents. But if this status appears, then I will fight in all permitted ways. We, journalists, are simply trying to intimidate. We must fight this, we must all be together, but, unfortunately, the Union of Journalists, our Russian colleagues (in Latvia) , let alone the Latvian, they say almost nothing about it, “Tatarchuk noted.
In December, Russian-speaking Latvian journalists, including those collaborating with the portals Baltnews and Sputnik Latvia, were charged under an article on violating the EU sanctions regime, they were searched, and a recognizance not to leave was taken. The charges were brought under Article 84 of the Latvian Criminal Law – “Violation of the EU sanctions regime”, punishment ranging from a monetary fine to imprisonment. Sputnik Latvia and Baltnews are affiliated with the Russia Today media group. At the same time, Latvian journalists who write for these media are not their employees, but act only as freelance authors.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the actions of the Latvian authorities against Russian-speaking journalists a punitive action and a blatant example of violating the foundations of a democratic society – freedom of the media and expression. The diplomatic department of the Russian Federation noted that the sanctions are personal in nature, relate personally to the Director General of MIA Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselev, and cannot apply to everyone who cooperates with the media holding. Editor-in-chief of MIA Rossiya Segodnya and RT, Margarita Simonyan, expressed her hope that Russia would respond to criminal cases against Russian-speaking journalists.