Ex-president says "oligarch conversations" real, minister remembers little

Former Latvian President Valdis Zatlers told a parliamentary inquiry into the so-called "Oligarch conversations" December 4 that he had no doubt the covertly-recorded conversations were genuine, but Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs said he remembered little about such conversations.

Speaking to the special commission set up by the Saeima to find out why no criminal action has been taken as a result of the conversations - which appear to show leading "oligarchs" plotting to divide political power and business deals among themselves - Zatlers said the transcriptions which have appeared are real.

Moreover he said that while President, oligarchs had lobbied him to make amendments to the law on granting amnesties (which is one of the powers the president has) that were clearly designed to benefit only themselves.

The oligarchs in effect had "their own little club" at the Ridzene hotel where the recordings were made, and at which they sought to advance their own interests and recruit help from others, Zatlers testified.

In contrast, Dūklavs - who appears in several of the transcripts apparently as an enthusiastic participant in the oligarch conversations - said he could remember very little of the detail of such talks, which he said were nothing special.

"I would very much like to hear the originals of the conversations - whether real or unreal it doesn't matter to me - but the originals all the same," he told the commission, adding that he had no recollection of offering to sell property plots, one of the key things with which he is linked in the conversations.

LSM has reported several times on the background to the oligarch conversations. However, despite causing a lot of discussion and scandal, no-one has resigned or faced charges of any sort as a result.

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