EU member jails academic for comments on economy

Latvian lats

Via Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship I learn from Latvian telecoms journalist Juris Kaža that his country’s security police recently detained accountancy lecturer Dmitrijs Smirnovs for making negative comments about the Latvian economy. In a panel discussion Smirnovs said that excessive credit had created an economic crisis, and that Latvia’s central bank was failing to adequately regulate the country’s financial system.

For making comments not dissimilar in tone to those of British Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, who famously “talked down the Pound” and for his sins received a mild slap on the wrist from his party, Smirnovs spent a few days in a police cell, following which he was forbidden from leaving the country. The police are now said to be preparing criminal proceedings against Smirnovs for spreading false information that could destabilise the Latvian financial system.

The Baltic Times reports Smirnovs as saying:

“The only thing I can advise: first, not to keep money in banks, second, not to accumulate savings in lats as it is very dangerous now. Convert them to the US dollars. The euro is an artificial currency, and what is achieved by the euro in a year, can be lost in a month. These are real threats to the value of the euro. Maybe some people do not understand it, but the main oppositionist and competitor to the US is the European Union (EU). The main goal of the US is to destroy the EU as it does not benefit from a strong and united Europe, strong currency – the euro.”

I cannot comment on the state of the Latvian economy, but as geopolitical analysis and a statement on the nature of the Euro in relation to the US Dollar this falls woefully short. That said, it is now a free speech and human rights issue, and I would hope that the EU intervenes to support of one of its citizens under threat from a clearly paranoid national administration.

See also: “Free Speech Emergency in Latvia”.