Twitter war breaks out between major parties

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs posted scathing remarks not just against Russia, but also against ruling coalition partner party National Alliance (NA) and the opposition Harmony (S) party on his Twitter feed Monday.

As the otherwise politically uneventful Easter weekend drew to a close, Rinkēvičs posted two tweets, the first of them suggesting Russia's current course was going to "end up like the German Reich after both world wars."

Less than an hour later came the second post in which he accused both the NA and S of trying to achieve "a totalitarian state that we could then hand over to the Kremlin."

That may have been at least partly in response to a April 2 tweet by prominent NA member Janis Iesalnieks - state secretary at the Ministry of Justice - who tweeted that liberal attitudes to family life were "paving the way for Putin" despite the fact that the Russian president's track record on family values would appear to be closer to his own than Rinkēvičs'.

   

While NA politicians like to tout "traditional" values, Saskanas has aligned itself closely with both leaders of the Russian Orthodox faith as well as other hardline Christian denominations on matters of morality.

However the fact that both parties seemingly from opposite ends of the political spectrum have adopted a similar position in opposing Estonian-style civil partnerships has created a bizarre alliance of erstwhile enemies.

Rinkēvičs came out as gay after the 12th Saeima elections last October. His tweet poked at the seemingly like-minded "intercourse" between the two diametrically opposed parties' similar positions on matters of morality.

The caustic nature of the statements prompted Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma to distance herself from them Tuesday on LTV morning news program Panorāma.

Straujuma said she would talk to the Foreign Affairs minister about his public statements, adding that it may be an issue for the current government's coalition council.

She expressed her opinion that Twitter is part of the public sphere and therefore one should refrain from such potentially offensive accusations on such media.

“Not surprised by the intercourse between SC and NA over 'virtuousness', for their goal is not a free LV, but a totalitarian state that we could then hand over to the Kremlin”

On his part, Rinkēvičs told independent television LNT news program 900 Sekundes Tuesday that he was “pleased” with the attention garnered by his tweet, having chosen sharp words to point out unacceptable attempts by Latvian politicians to copy Russia’s ideological settings.

He said he had been “genuinely surprised” by the Saeima Education Culture and Science Commission’s bloc of members from ostensibly opposed political parties, yet who can propose such ideological positions so in line with Russia’s currently oppressive and widely censured public sphere. The fact that such diametrically opposed parties could come together on issues like this is dangerous, Rinkēvičs believes.

On March 25 opposition deputy Jūlija Stepaņenko proposed an amendment to the Law on Education, which would prohibit educational institutions from using or distributing materials that could "negatively influence" the moral, ethical, intellectual or physical development of their charges. The draft amendment got support from several members of the SC, NA and Regional Alliance parliamentary factions.

Prompted for an official response, NA leader Gaidis Bērziņš told national information agency LETA that it is up to the Foreign Minister's own conscience whether or not he apologizes for his remarks. While he is entitled to an opinion on matters of virtue and morality, he should not have made the connection with totalitarianism, Bērziņš explained. He added that many rank-and-file NA party members had submitted written complaints urging the party to call for an official apology from Rinkēvičs.

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