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Cabinet appoints next Security Police chief

The ruling coalition government managed to identify, interview and approve the replacement for retiring Security Police (DP) chief Jānis Reiniks within just a few days of his surprise announcement Friday.

As reported Monday, Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis named DP officer Normunds Mežviets to replace the fifteen-year veteran Reiniks at the head of the state law enforcement agency charged with protecting national security at this critical time, now that Latvia is about to assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU while the Ukraine crisis and post-election vote-buying scandals demand the utmost in professional vigilance and resolve at the DP.

Demonstrating caution incumbent on the nominee slated for the top security post, Mežviets only spoke to the media following the closed Cabinet of Ministers' meeting Tuesday that approved his promotion.

As he outlined his priorities to Latvian Radio (LR):

“The essential task is of course preparing for Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. This is an extraordinarily significant event in our lives, for our entire nation, as well as for the national security system,” Mežviets said.

During its Presidency Latvia will be hosting a series of high-risk public events where ensuring the physical security of participants is a top concern. As a result the work of the DP will become more intensive in the areas of counter-intelligence and protecting state secrets.

Mežviets mentioned other priorities as well, including the expedited investigation of an alleged vote-buying scandal that could threaten to undermine the 12th Saeima election results. “I will put maximum effort to get this issue resolved as effectively as possible,” he vowed.

“As a third priority I would define the need to increase the DP’s capacity. First of all, that would mean a pay raise for DP officials,” the newly appointed top DP official said.

He also cited public outreach efforts as being necessary for informing society about the national security situation, response to real threats and the DP’s operations in this regard.

The Saeima National Security Committee met with Mežviets Tuesday morning and acknowledged him to be a well-chosen candidate for the job. MPs from the parliamentary committee suggested the DP also pay closer attention to the analysis of economic risks to national security, such as those involving large-scale business transactions and their potential impact on the state.

The 41-year old Mežviets, who has masters degrees in both political science and in history, has been involved in national security affairs since 2002. He began working at the DP in 2005, where his first duties included an anti-terrorism assignment, helping to establish the DP’s Anti-Terrorism Center, which conducts the service’s anti-terror activities.

Later he worked in the strategic planning and operational analysis departments, as well as with international cooperation efforts with other countries' secret services. He has also been the key coordinator for the DP’s preparations for the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

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