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Latvia Fires Some Top Officials

April 3, 1998

RIGA, Latvia (AP) _ In the wake of a synagogue bombing and tense relations with Russia, Latvia fired its economics minister and top law-enforcement officials Friday and proposed dismissing the military’s commander.

No one was injured in the bombing Thursday, which blew out the synagogue’s door and windows.

But the attack was embarrassing to Latvian leaders, because increased security ordered at the building after a May 1995 bombing was never fully implemented. No arrests have been made in either attack.

Interior Minister Ziedonis Cevers fired the head of the Riga police’s criminal division, the Baltic News Service reported. The head of the national police force’s criminal division resigned, the news agency said.

The National Security Council called for the dismissal of national police chief Aldis Lieljuksis.

The security council also recommended the dismissal of the military’s commander-in-chief, Juris Dalbis, because of his participation in last month’s commemoration of the founding of the Latvian SS brigade during World War II.

The ceremony distressed Jews and angered Russia. The Soviet Union annexed Latvia in 1940, but it was occupied by the Nazis from 1941 to 1944.

Relations with Russia were troubled even before the commemoration. Latvia’s substantial Russian-speaking minority is angered by moves to deny them citizenship unless they learn to speak Latvian, and a demonstration by ethnic Russian pensioners was broken up by police.

Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, who announced the firing, said he was dissatisfied with how the economics ministry was handling privatization efforts.

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