Ex-Latvian MP 'expelled' from Russia after spy claims
A former member of the Latvian parliament expressed "surprise" Sunday after Russian media claimed he had been expelled from Russia for spying, in another Cold War-style incident in the ex-Soviet Baltic states.
Aleksejs Holostovs, a former member of the Harmony political party, which draws much of its support from the country's large Russian minority, told the LETA news service he was "surprised" at the allegation of spying from Russia.
He declined further comment, saying he was unaware that he had been called a spy.
According to a report broadcast Sunday by Russian TV channel NTV, Holostovs was believed to be spying for the Latvian security service, which was in turn working for the CIA.
The channel, using footage apparently shot with hidden cameras, showed pictures of Holostovs saying he was recruited "seven or eight years ago" and had been pressured into spying on Russian officials and members of parliament with threats and blackmail.
Tensions have been high between the Baltic states and their former masters in Moscow since the crisis in Ukraine began in February.
Latvian foreign ministry spokesman Karlis Eihenbaums told Latvian radio the incident was being investigated, but said that Russia expelling Holostovs was not helpful.
"Such behaviour is extremely regrettable.
What we see now, unfortunately, is that it is happening more and more often.
It can be explained by the fact that Russia, in its international relations, is not behaving in line with what we would expect in the 21st century," Eihenbaums said.
The claims come as a police officer from neighbouring Estonia is still being held in Russia on spying charges after being "snatched" at gunpoint from the border in September in a blatant violation of Estonian sovereignty, the authorities there claim.
Holostovs served as a Latvian MP from 2006 until 2011 but quit the Harmony party last year and is currently pursuing business interests in real estate.
© 2014 AFP