Russian secret service interested in presidential choice

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Russian secret services are taking an interest in who will become Latvia's next President when the Saeima makes its choice within the next few weeks, Latvia's spymaster Janis Maizītis, head of the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) said Wednesday. 

Speaking on LTV's Rita Panorama news show, Maizītis broke with tradition and mentioned Russia by name rather than relying on the usual formula that simply cites "foreign powers" or "other countries".

Asked if foreign secret services had ever been caught actively trying to influence the outcome of such elections, Maizītis demurred, while noting that such a result would be ranked a major success by any interested secret service.

SAB was well aware of the nature of contacts between Latvian officials and representatives of other nations, Maizītis reassured.

In general, Russia's period of using so-called "soft power" was over and had now been replaced by a period of "hybrid warfare" the security chief - a former Prosecutor General - said.

Maizītis underlined the importance of NATO membership as the ultimate guarantee of Latvian security, saying it was important to believe in the unity of the alliance and its willingness to defend its members. 

"If we live with such an emotion, then everything will be fine. Weakness comes when we start to have doubts about this," he warned.

He was also keen to reassure the public that Latvia was far from a sitting duck when it comes to potential cyber-attack.

"We are not as weak as it might seem from the outside - we are able to detect cyber-espionage attempts and even to help other countries. We are smart enough to play a leading role in this area" said Maizītis, while confirmed that there had already been cases of foreign interference in Latvian cyberspace.

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