Latvia starts criminal proceedings against an EU Parliament lawmaker suspected of spying for Russia

Latvia Initiates Criminal Case Against EU Parliament Member for Alleged Espionage on Behalf of Russia

In Helsinki, the national security agency of Latvia has initiated legal action against a member of the European Parliament and a Latvian national. This individual is under suspicion for allegedly collaborating with Russian intelligence and security agencies. Latvian news sources shared this development on Saturday.

Reports have emerged in recent weeks, initially surfacing in January across Russian, Nordic, and Baltic media outlets. These reports claim that Tatjana Ždanoka, aged 73, has been linked to the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, since at least 2004. The Latvian security service, abbreviated as VDD, has been closely examining Ždanoka’s supposed connections to Russia following these allegations.

On February 22, the VDD decided to proceed with a criminal case against Ždanoka. Attempts to reach the security service for a comment were unsuccessful. Ždanoka has consistently denied the accusations leveled against her.

The European Parliament, in late January, announced it was investigating claims that Ždanoka had been acting as a Russian agent for several years. The legislative body of the European Union, located in Strasbourg, France, expressed its deep concern over these allegations.

A collaborative investigation by The Insider, a Russian investigative journalism website, its Latvian counterpart Re:Baltica, the Estonian news portal Delfi, and the Swedish newspaper Expressen, revealed on January 29 a series of leaked emails. These emails purportedly showcase Ždanoka’s interactions with her handler.

Expressen reported that Ždanoka has been disseminating propaganda. This propaganda includes claims of rights violations against Russians in the Baltic states and advocating for policies favorable to the Kremlin. Additionally, she has not denounced Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Latvia and Estonia, neighboring Baltic countries with a population of 1.9 million and a significant ethnic Russian minority constituting about 25% of their populations, are former Soviet republics. Over recent years, Moscow has frequently accused both nations of discriminating against their Russian-speaking residents.

Ždanoka’s online profile on the European Parliament’s website identifies her as the president of the EU Russian-Speakers’ Alliance, a role she has held since 2007. She first assumed office as a member of the European Parliament in 2004.