Hammered by economic woe, this former Soviet republic recently took a novel step to contain the crisis. Its counterespionage agency busted an economist for being too downbeat.
“All I did was say what everyone knows,” says Dmitrijs Smirnovs, a 32-year-old university lecturer detained by Latvia’s Security Police. The force is responsiblefor hunting down spies, terrorists and other threats to this Baltic nation of 2.3 million people and 26 banks.
Now free after two days of questioning, Mr. Smirnovs hasn’t been charged. But he is still under investigation for bad-mouthing the stability of Latvia’s banks and the national currency, the lat. Investigators suspect him of spreading “untruthful information.” They’ve ordered him not to leave the country and seized his computer.
The article further says Latvian agencies are fairly particular about people saying bad things about its economy and banks. This makes banning short-selling a cakewalk really.
This Latvian case reminds me of allegation by Richard Fuld (ex CEO, ex Lehman) that rumors led to collapse of Lehman. I thought that was pretty absurd and what can one say of this? If Latvian Banks are badly placed (as per reports they are), should someone still say they are good?
Juris Kaza, a jouranalist has developed a blog to provide updates on the matter