Former KGB officer on trial for incitement: LTV's De Facto

Take note – story published 1 year ago

Last week, court proceedings started for Andris Strautmanis, former official of the Soviet-time Committee for State Security (KGB) and Latvian Security Police. He was detained two years ago in the espionage case of politician Jānis Ādamsons, Latvian Television's broadcast De Facto reported on May 22. 

Former Interior Minister (1994–1995) and Saeima deputy Jānis Ādamsons is the biggest figure tried for espionage in Latvia. He is accused of handing over information to Russia's Federal Security Service. Together with Ādamsons, his contact, the Russian citizen Gennady Silonov is accused.

Two former members of the Security Police (former name of the State Security Service) have remained in the background of the Ādamsons case so far. One is Andris Strautmanis, who was a KGB investigator during the Soviet times, the other is Artūrs Šmaukstelis, who has worked as a local government policeman and was, for a short time, an aide to the deputy Ādamsons in the Saeima. 

Ādamsons told the court that Šmaukstelis had transferred information to him as a Saeima deputy so that Ādamsons could write various requests. Strautmanis, on the other hand, had prepared information on organized crime for Ādamsons, but had once asked for help to solve problems with the transit of meat products through Russia.

The investigation did not demonstrate any involvement of Strautmanis or Šmaukstelis in espionage, namely the deliberate transfer of information to Silonov or the Russian special service.

“As far as Strautmanis is concerned, criminal proceedings continue on other charges. The process against Šmaukstelis has been completed. Mr. Šmaukstelis was also found guilty of disclosure of classified information and disclosure of confidential news," said Juris Ločmelis, prosecutor of the case.

On Tuesday, a court trial began in which Strautmanis was charged with inciting the disclosure of confidential information. The prosecutor believes Strautmanis had incited Šmaukstelis to commit the crime.

The former KGB officer Strautmanis became deputy head of the Latvian Security Police Bureau in the 1990s. At the end of the decade, he lost access to working with state secret. Briefly, he was an advisor to the Minister of the Interior, Mareks Segliņš. Later he headed the Internal Security Service at the "Rīga shipbuilder".

In recent years Strautmanis allegedly collected information about the meat sector. This is one of the reasons why the prosecutor asked Strautmanis to be tried in closed hearings. Strautmanis has allegedly obtained a large amount of limited-availabiloty information from the State Revenue Service regarding several meat processing plants, as well as individuals. The prosecutor does not want the data to be disclosed publicly.

The accused Strautmanis himself did not want to talk to De Facto about the case and delegated his lawyer.

“It was probably clear from the outset that no spying for Russia had taken place on Strautmanis' part, but for a year the case was artificially maintained,” says Andris Strautmanis's lawyer, Ingus Strautmanis.

Strautmanis is now accused of inciting disclosure of confidential information as well as illicit possession of a firearm. According to his lawyer, the Minister for the Interior had given him a weapon for good work in the Security Police. Now there's a discussion about whether it's registered accordingly. According to De Facto, in 1994, the weapon was presented to Strautmanis by order of then Interior Minister, Jānis Ādamsons.

Prosecutor Ločmelis said a total of 10 criminal offenses were recorded between 2015 and 2018.

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