Russian politician, Deputy State Duma Chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky provoked a diplomatic scandal which resulted in worsening the relations between Russia and Latvia.
On March 24 Mr. Zhirinovsky expressed criticism to Latvia’s joining NATO and the reform of Russian language schools in an interview to Latvian TV.
Zhirinovsky predicted terrorist attacks on Latvia and said, “Latvia will be destroyed. Empty space will be there. Absolutely nothing will remain from Latvia. Everybody will forget the words “Latvia” and “the Latvian language”. There will be nothing in Latvia, forever. We will destroy everything. If you touch Russians and Russian schools. I assure you. Nothing will remain”.
Zhirinovsky made the statements of this kind before. The last vivid example was his criticism of George Bush for the intention to start a war against Saddam Hussein in the winter of 2003. Zhirinovsky was about to be dismissed from his position of Deputy State Duma Chairman for that statement, but State Duma deputies were merciful enough to decide that some different person had been recorded in the scandalous video, not Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Washington ignored that statement. Latvian authorities expressed different attitude, they seemed to take offence.
The next day after Zhirinovsky’s statement Latvian delegation of Baltic Assembly (the organization on cooperation between the Parliaments of three Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) had a special meeting. At the meeting Latvian deputies condemned Zhirinovsky’s statement and decided to establish a work group for preparation an official statement for Russian authorities. The delegations of Estonian and Lithuanian deputies supported their Latvian counterparts and said they were ready to sign the statement as well.
On March 26 Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga spoke on Latvian radio and called the EU countries to react to the threats of Mr. Zhirinovsky. According to the President, Vladimir Zhirinovsky called for “violence against Latvia”. She said that Latvian Foreign Ministry would inform the global community about Zhirinovsky’s statement, “Other countries, especially the EU members, must hear this and express their position on this”.
Vaira Vike-Freiberga thinks that for the EU officials conducting negotiations with Russia is “very important to know all the sides of their partner on negotiations”. Although Latvian President said that she understands that Zhirinovsky’s statements do not express the opinion of Russian authorities.
Source: Information agencies