Latvian Citizen Accused of Spying for Russia
Rahvusvahelised uudised 10 Feb 2018  EWR
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Senior Russian lawmaker confirms deployment of ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad. 8 February 2018
Latvia’s security agency yesterday said a Latvian citizen taken in custody in December was spying for Russian intelligence.

Latvian officials have warned of increased Russian intelligence gathering on NATO troops in the country, Reuters reports.

"Russian security services continue recruiting Latvian residents on Russian soil, using several methods, covers and assistance requests, due to which the recruitee may initially even be ignorant of the recruiter's ties with Russian secret services," the Latvian Security Police said in a statement quoted by the public broadcaster LSM.

The person collected information about Latvian military installations and the situation on the Latvian-Russian border area, the statement said.

NATO’s presence in the Baltics has grown substantially since Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting Ukrainian separatists four years ago, dramatically inflaming tension in the region.

Earlier this week, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Moscow had deployed nuclear-capable missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave, a report confirmed by a senior Russian lawmaker, The Independent reported yesterday.

Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, said the move was a response to NATO’s buildup near Russia’s borders.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that although Russia has the exclusive right to deploy weapons anywhere on its territory, it “has never threatened anyone and is not threatening anyone.”

Latvia’s large Russian minority is meanwhile worried about plans to reduce the use of Russian and other minority languages in schools.

Latvian Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis recently said “politically motivated protests” were likely against the changes now being considered in parliament.

Representatives of the country’s Russian minority are coordinating their protests against the plans with the Kremlin, Sadurskis said, according to the Baltic Times.

“Of course, Moscow is interested in retaining the share of youth in Latvia – about 20 percent – who have weak skills of the Latvian language as then they are subjected to Russia's propaganda," he said.

• The proposed teaching changes would affect all bilingual schools. By 2021, at least 50 percent of all subjects would be taught in Latvian in grades 1-6, rising to 80 percent for grades 7-9 and 100 percent for grades 10 and 11.

• Students from ethnic minorities would continue to study their native language, as well as literature, culture, and history in their respective languages, the Baltic Times reports today.

• The Soviet annexation of Latvia after World War II led to a steady rise in the proportion of Russians in the population, with the minority eventually peaking at 34 percent in 1989. Since independence the share of ethnic Latvians has risen from 52 percent to 60 percent, as the share of Russians has fallen to 26 percent, according to 2017 data. Belarusians comprise 3.2 percent, and Ukrainians 2.4 percent of the population.

(Compiled by Ky Krauthamer)
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