Saeima gets on with business despite showboating deputy

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The Latvian parliament or Saeima returned to work Thursday a week after its session was suspended due to the intransigence of one of its members, Dainis Liepiņš of the Regional Alliance party.

Liepiņš, who is under police investigation in connection with an alleged false income declaration, made on a token effort to enter the parliamentary chamber for the benefit of TV cameras, before being refused entry by police.

A week ago, his presence in the chamber led to the suspension of parliamentary business and near-farcical scenes as officials and politicians discussed what action they should take while Liepiņš attempted to argue that loopholes in the parliamentary rules meant he could take his seat in the chamber.

That was a line he maintained today at a morning press conference before the resumption of the delayed parliamentary session.

"We have no legal basis not to go to the parliamentary sitting," he said, flanked by party colleagues including Artuss Kaimins, himself disciplined by parliamentary authorities for drunken antics in a Riga bar.

However, on arrival at the parliamentary chamber, Liepiņš had his progress barred by a police officer, acting on orders from Latvia's chief of police.

Instead, a smirking Liepiņš was permitted to sit in the press gallery, separated from the chamber proper by a low railing. 

In February, Liepiņš' fellow deputies voted to waive his parliamentary immunity so that the investigation against him could proceed.

Liepiņš protests his innocence.

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