Another minister denied security clearance

The Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) has denied Environment Minister Romāns Naudiņš national security clearance, the minister told Latvian Television (LTV) news program Panorāma Friday.

Though the decision was taken on Tuesday, August 14, SAB chose not to make the information public.

The denial of access to state secrets for Naudiņš comes just weeks after the resignation of his party colleague, Justice Minister Baiba Broka. She was also denied national security clearance, prompting her to finally step down on July 28 after months in the job.

While formally eligible to continue in the Cabinet position despite the lack of clearance to access potentially sensitive information, Broka found herself barred from taking part in any government agenda items involving state secrets.

Saeima approved Naudiņš in the environment minister's position on March 27.

Naudiņš expressed surprise at the decision and said he plans to appeal to the General Prosecutor’s Office, just as Broka did, unsuccesfully. If the denial is upheld in this instance, he said he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The environment minister said he found it “interesting” that SAB had not once contacted him until he expressed an opinion opposing the Citadele commercial bank sell-off. Since then, however, he has been summoned to SAB several times, most recently again last week.

“In my view this is undue pressure on the National Alliance before elections. The whole process seems bizarre, the denial was received on the very last day of the decision term,” said Naudiņš.

He added that this is also a matter of Latvia’s international reputation, from the foreign policy perspective reflecting very poorly on the coalition government’s ability to function.

On her part, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma’s spokeswoman Džeina Tamuļeviča told national information agency LETA the premier respects the SAB decision, but will not call for Naudiņš’ resignation.

She stressed that he is not being denied access to government meetings regarding the Citadele sell-off. However, she suggested the NA put more thought into its choices for ministerial nominees.

Naudiņš said he would not resign, given there is less than two months left until elections. He affirmed that he would continue to run as a candidate for the 12th Saeima elections.

Broka and Naudiņš were both key figures in the Unity-led coalition government, representing its right-wing coalition partner, the National Alliance (NA). However, the almost simultaneous rejection of the cabinet members has angered the NA, as its ministers were forced to remove themselves from all government sessions dealing with national security issues.

The restriction of security clearance is particularly embarrassing for the NA as it likes to portray itself as a staunchly patriotic party that is tough on law and order issues.

 

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