Latvia sends agriculture official to Ukraine instead of anti-corruption officer

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Latvia is to send an official from the Agriculture Ministry to Ukraine to aid that country's hefty reform process rather than the anti-corruption officer previously flagged for the mission, the BNS newswire reported Tuesday.

Although previously it was suggested that Latvia could send to Ukraine an expert of the Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) to help with the reform process, the Latvian government on Tuesday resolved to send to Ukraine an Agriculture Ministry official.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry, having analyzed the situation, concluded that it is impossible to dispatch a KNAB officer to work at Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau this year. But during the consultations with the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food a suggestion was raised that an official of the Latvian Agriculture Ministry could be posted to Ukraine.

The expenses earmarked to finance an assignment of the KNAB official to Ukraine will be used to send to Ukraine the Latvian Agriculture Ministry representative. The financing required for this assignment is 14,400 euros this year (to be taken from the contingency funds in the Latvian national budget), and 17,800 euros will be required next year.

Answering questions from the press after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma explained that the personality of the proposed anti-corruption officer had been a stumbling block in the negotiations but Ukraine was also interested in receiving help from a Latvian agriculture expert and with this there had not been any problems.  

But Straujuma denied that Latvia was sending to Ukraine an Agriculture Ministry official instead of an anti-corruption officer because KNAB deputy chief Juta Strike - a tireless anti-graft worker but a controversial figure with a track record of annoying her superiors - had refused to accept the assignment to Ukraine.

"It did not quite happen that way,” Straujuma said.

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