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Anti-corruption officers detain MP Kaimins after Saeima meeting

RIGA - Officers of the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) detained MP Artuss Kaimins (KPV LV) following today’s Saeima meeting at which lawmakers voted to grant permission to search and detain Kaimins.

After anti-corruption officers had read his rights, Kaimins gave interviews to the media, while KNAB operatives stood by waiting for him.

When Kaimins was done with the interviews he was driven away in a KNAB minibus.

KNAB representatives told LETA that KNAB today asked the parliament permission to search and detain Kaimins as part of an ongoing criminal procedure.

KNAB promised to give more detailed information as soon as possible.

Last year, KNAB opened a criminal probe into an allegedly illegal financing of the Kaimins-led KPV LV party.

Earlier, Latvia’s whistleblowing website pietiek.com reported that the probe has been launched over Kaimins’ “money matters”.

The website had obtained a video in which Kaimins and KPV LV co-chairman Atis Zakatistovs discuss cooperation with businessman Viesturs Tamuzs as the party’s financial sponsor.

Kaimins admitted earlier that he and Zakatistovs had given statements to KNAB about the video footage.

As reported, Saeima today granted permission to detain and search Kaimins.

Vitalijs Orlovs (Harmony), chairman of the Saeima Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee, informed that the committee reviewed the Prosecutor Office’s request to allow searching and detaining the lawmaker. The committee unanimously voted to grant the request, Orlovs said without elaborating.

Later, Saeima approved the committee’s decision by 59 votes, while 17 parliamentarians did not take part in voting. Most of the abstaining lawmakers are from Harmony, but Valdis Skujins (Greens/Farmers), Romans Mezeckis (non-partisan) and Ringolds Balodis (National Alliance) voted against as well.

Kaimins was also present at the parliament meeting.

Aldis Gobzems, a lawyer and the KPV LV candidate for prime minister, told LETA today that officers of the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) were raiding the premises of businessman Viesturs Tamuzs.

According to information from LETA Archive, several members left KPV LV party in 2016. They blamed Kaimins for poor leadership and a failure to prepare the party for upcoming local elections. The former KPV LV members also hinted to their objections to “unauthorized talks” with Viesturs Tamuzs.

Ikmars Poikans, an IT researcher at the University of Latvia, said that Tamuzs’ name surfaced at a time when there was an urgent need for financing.

Tamuzs could not be contacted for comment.

Kaimins was elected to the Latvian parliament on the Latvian Association of Regions (LRA) ticket but he later founded his own KPV LV party, which is going to participate also in this year’s parliamentary elections.

Before becoming a politician, Kaimins was an actor at the Latvian National Theater.

In accordance with the Saeima Rules of Procedure, Saeima decides on granting permission to search, detain or prosecute a lawmaker for prosecution based on the Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee’s report.

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