Citizens of Latvia, a West Virginia-size nation with a 9 percent unemployment rate, have something to discuss besides the lack of jobs. If recent reports from Russian news sources are to be believed, Latvian politicians are less concerned with the country's economy and more interested in having sex with young hairless boys.
For the past year, Latvia has been mired in a pedophilia scandal that has reached the highest levels of government.
Last week, an investigating parliamentary commission named six prominent officials as suspects, including resigned Prime Minister Andris Skele, Justice Minister Valdis Birkavs, State Revenue Service chief Andrei Sonchik, postal service general director Aivars Droiskis and gymnasium director Roman Aliyev.
As they say in politics, oops.
The scandal first erupted in September 1999, when a teenager appeared on Latvian Independent Television's "Nedelya" program and accused prominent politician Ainars Eisakas of sexual harassment. According to the program, a pornography dealer named Yuri Yuryev supplied young boys to Eisakas through his Logos agency. Yuryev, who is now in custody, allegedly was in the business of producing porn videos and supplying minors to homosexual clients. The television program reported that if the information it had was correct, other members of the government were also involved.
The prosecutor general's office began an investigation, but it dragged on so slowly that lawmakers set up a separate parliamentary commission. After further investigation, commission chairman Yanis Adamson stood up in Parliament two months ago and said that Skele, Birkavs and Sonchik could be involved in the case.
The prosecutor general's office was not pleased with this announcement, and said in a letter to the Parliament speaker that its investigation had found no incriminating evidence against the officials.
The prosecutor general's office said the commission had not shared evidence with prosecutors and had thus created "hindrance to the investigation." It then opened a criminal case against Adamson on charges of "insult to honor and dignity."
Adamson smelled a coverup, so when he named the officials in Parliament last week, he also gave special attention to Juris Zalitis, who happens to be the director of the General Prosecutor's Office Administrative Department. The commission has asked for a special investigation into Zalitis' involvement in the pedophilia scandal and considers his remaining in any government office amoral and possibly legally indefensible.