Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Et tu Freedom House...

Two days ago it was Heritage Foundation that published data about the decline of Latvian economic freedom by -1 point in 2007(look into Tuesday's blog entry). The report showed that Latvia is gradually lagging behind its Baltic cousins, Estonia and Lithuania. Yesterday Freedomhouse published its 2007 survey and according to this survey Latvia is still free, but in the survey there are words that would make any EU member civil society cautios.

"For 2007, Latvia registered a slight decline due to series of corruption scandals that implicated highranking officials". This is a quote from the Freedomhouse 2007 evaluation report and it should be underlined, that the only Europeans specifically mentioned in the report were Latvia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The report reflects also the overall mood in Latvian society (remember demonstrations in October and November). Also Latvian pollster SKDS released its report yesterday that was commissioned by the Anti-Corruption Agency in Latvia (KNAB). The report revelead again(!), that most of Latvian state institutions reputation has declined, and the belief that corruption is still omnipresent in state and municipal administration, that fosters also petit corruption thus widespread in traffic police.

Both reports reveal dark sides of Latvian governance and should make any political elite to think about causes for decline of Latvia's credit ratings, negative performance of its administration in the eyes of the public for quite many years in the row, and now also decline of basic freedoms. As soon as the report appeared on pages of liberal Diena and Delfi first comments, probably from "busy" administrators in state institutions, hissed that 'authors of such reports should be changed', thus giving more positive light for Latvian extraordinary success story of last couple of years, to use the language of the incumbent president. Unfortunately the government, the president, parliament, and the legal system in this country are gradually merging into the corporate entity called Latvia Ltd., and it is harder and harder to see substantial balance of powers system here.

Instead of reflecting on quality of its own work, the political elite and their underlings continue to lie to themselves thus promoting the culture of irresponsibility. Living in the power bubble of Jēkaba and Brīvības streets continues, and I am not surprised about hissing of Latvian officialdome about "betrayal" of their good works in style of et tu Brutus...

In May service of the Director of the Latvian Intelligence Agency (SAB) Mr Kažociņš should be evaluated by the parliament, in August tenure of the Head of the Supreme Court Andris Guļāns should finish, and finally in December four years term for the Head of the State Audit Office Ingūna Sudraba should end. It is widely known that these three persons are not really appreciated by the corporation called Latvia Ltd. Mrs Sudraba openly scolded most of ministries and other state institutions for misuse of public funds (so far without any political consequences). Mr Kažociņš is disliked by the top notch politicians because he spent most of his life in Great Britain and Andris Guļāns, probably unwillingly, has given in to the public pressure and revealed that there are problems with corrupt judges.

2008 is in some way omenous year, because future status of the above mentioned officials would also very much determine the future of liberal democracy in Latvia.

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