Prime Minister assumes direct oversight of Constitution Protection Bureau

Following the June 9 rejection by the Constitution Protection Bureau of Justice Minister Baiba Broka's access to classified information, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma Tuesday announced that she will henceforth assume the direct supervision of Latvia's security and intelligence agency.

Though Straujuma insisted that Broka, of the National Union coalition party, would not be asked to step down as Justice Minister, pending a possible protracted appeal of the Bureau’s ruling to the General Prosecutor’s Office, she indicated there would be no objection if Broka herself were to reach such a decision.  On her part, Broka claimed at her June 9 press conference that the Bureau had acted „under political pressure” from leaders in the Unity faction of the coalition government.

As a person denied access to state secrets and classified information, Broka is unable to fulfil many of her delegated ministerial duties, including the signing of the Bureau’s reports, as well as participation at closed Cabinet sessions where such reports are to be vetted.  While neither Straujuma nor Constitutional Protection Bureau chief Janis Maizitis revealed how serious were the reasons behind the ruling to deny Broka access to state secrets, Latvian Television reported previously that she was under scrutiny for past dealings with the controversial foreign investor „Ominasis Latvia”, under whose former ownership the Kemeri Sanatorium complex was allowed to continue its catastrophic deterioration, as well as suspicions regarding the undue political influence of National Union sponsors upon the governing coalition partner organization. Following immediately upon the decision, Broka also cancelled her participation in official state visits accompanying President Andris Berzins to Tajikistan and Mongolia on June 10-13.

The current controversy has Latvia’s public blogosphere buzzing with posts and tweets regarding the theme of „state secrets” and Baiba Broka’s thwarted access thereto, as evident in the following parody of a political campaign poster titled „Like in the Movies: Baiba’s Secret”, with its byline „Who’s keeping whose secrets from whom?”

 

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