The parliament of Latvia gathers for a special meeting today, November 9, to hold a confidence vote to nation's Foreign Affairs Minister Valdis Kristovskis less than a week after his appointment. The minister has found himself in a center of a large scandal, which seems to be outrageous even for Latvia - a country that turns a blind eye on Nazi criminals.
The scandal started brewing after the publication of Valdis Kristovskis' correspondence with a well-known nationalist and doctor Aivars Slucis. The US-based Latvian immigrant wrote to Kristovskis a year ago that he would not be able to treat Russian patients the same way as Latvian ones. Kristovskis replied by saying: "I agree with your evaluation and your views."
A closer look at Aivars Slucis's biography shows that he actively sponsors nationalist anti-Russian organizations. During the parliamentary elections a month ago, Dr. Slucis urged to support radical nationalists and Russophobes from All for Latvia Party.
Latvia's newly appointed foreign minister was conducting active correspondence with Mr. Slucis. His above-mentioned response to doctor's nationalist remarks about the impossibility to treat Russian patients means that Latvia's Foreign Affairs Ministry is chaired by the person, who admits an opportunity to deny medical aid to people just because of their nationality.
The administration of Mayo Clinic, a US chain of private-owned clinics, where Mr. Slucis is employed, was shocked about such a fact in his biography. The Americans said that they would give appropriate estimation to the statements from the Latvian immigrant. The medics referred to the words of Mayor Clinic's founder William Mayo, who said that a doctor "knows neither color nor race when humanity is suffering."
The Latvian opposition in the face of the Russian-speaking party Harmony Center and the Latvian association For a Better Latvia, demanded the xenophobic minister should resign.
"Kristovskis' statements are unacceptable. A foreign affairs minister can not say things like that. He does not represent his party only (Civil Union, a dominating bloc in the Latvian parliament - ed.) but the Latvian state on the whole," Edgars Zalans, a member of For a Better Latvia faction said. His party members added that the Constitution of Latvia guarantees healthcare rights to all citizens of the country regardless their nationality.
According to Latvian oppositionists, Kristovskis discredits the country in the eyes of the international community because his views about the treatment of Russian patients in Latvia go against all norms of the European Union. Such a politician as Kristovkis is incapable of building friendly relations with Russia.
Mr. Kristovskis has found himself in a very tricky situation. He urged the website, which published the notorious correspondence with Slucis, to remove the material. "The article misinterprets my words, it undermines my political reputation undeservingly inside and outside Latvia," the head of Latvian diplomacy said.
"If there were ten questions in an email and I said "I agree" when answering them, it does not mean that I agree with everything," the minister added. Kristovskis also said that he was strongly against the statement about the impossibility to treat Russians like Latvians and claimed that his political adversaries were aggravating the situation.
"Aggravating the situation" does not seem to be the case at this point. Last year, a Latvian doctor refused to help a Russian child who had injured his head. The doctor refused to help the child just because his grandmother was speaking Russian.
What about the deputies of the Latvian parliament? They do not support the amendments to the law about the rights of patients, which allows doctors to receive complaints in the Russian language. The actions of nationalists in white robes were virtually considered legal, which contradicts to the Hippocratic Oath and the laws of the European Union, not to mention elementary moral norms.
No matter whether the Latvian foreign affairs minister keeps his job or not, the image of Latvia has been damaged. As for Dr. Slucis, his attitude to Russian patients are very similar to worst forms of Nazi punitive medicine, and we say 'worst' because even Nazis provided medical assistance to concentration camp prisoners. Slucis should have worked in Salaspils concentration camp on the outskirts of Riga, where Nazis conducted medical experiments on Russian, Belarusian and Jewish children.