What is actually written in the scandalous amendments, to whom they will be distributed and how their adoption will affect the lives of ordinary Latvian citizens? To understand these complex matters Delfi helped the lawyer faction "green" of the European Parliament Alexei Dimitrov.
For any acts against the state can put on the current version of the law?
Now the criminal law provides for different conditions and different punishments for different actions against the state. For example, it is forbidden to organise activities against the independence and territorial integrity and call for this, but to formally participate in such activities are not prohibited. To call for the overthrow of state power or change of government is impossible, if it is connected with violent methods and Association in an organization to overthrow the government is punishable and in case of non-violent methods. To call for the elimination of independence is not generally, and to the undermining of territorial integrity only if the call is associated with the ignoring of the Constitution. Sanctions in different articles is also different.
What is the essence of the proposed amendments?
The main innovations three. First, it clarifies the definition of espionage is introduced and the penalty for illegally obtaining state secrets.
Secondly, actions and appeals against the independence, sovereignty, territorial unity, and aimed at the overthrow of state power or change the state system, will be punished equally (the calls — up to five years of imprisonment, of up to eight years, associated with violence of action up to 15). In the new edition of the criminal nature of the appeal or action depends on whether the relationship violence — this will depend on just punishment. Also there will be no difference whether the calls or actions unconstitutional — the authors of the bill believe that a constitutional way to reject independence, sovereignty, territorial unity, to overthrow state power or to change the state structure is impossible.
Thirdly, there is a new article. For the help to a foreign state or organization which are harmful to the security interests of Latvia, the activity will face up to five years imprisonment.
Who can get under the new punishment?
Like any rule of the Criminal law, amendments will apply to any person located in the territory of Latvia and all Latvian citizens, non-citizens and foreigners with permanent residence permits even if they violate the law while abroad. In theory to punish you and other foreigners, but in practice problems may arise with the issue.
What areas of activity will be subject to the restrictions?
At all. To call something that in the media, both at home and at work.
Than a new edition of the Criminal law is different from censorship?
There are many different definitions of censorship. In the classical sense is a ban on publishing any information, the implementation of which the state is monitored before publication. In this case, the sanctions come after publication.
That it would be impossible to write in Newspapers and show on TV, if the amendment is approved?
Any information against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity or aimed at the overthrow of state power or change the state system, as well as any information that assists a foreign state or organization to harm the security of Latvia.
Then how, where and in what form it will be possible to criticize the government, not to get during this time?
To criticize the government, you can still be anywhere and in any form. Criticism of the authorities is not prohibited if it does not impinge on a constitutional basis and is not connected with a foreign state or organization.
That can be a reason for beginning criminal proceedings?
The complaint of any person, information in the media — any information about a crime may be cause for commencement of criminal proceedings. To investigate the case will be the security Police.
Would it be possible, according to the new edition, to punish, say, a conditional member of National Association Janis Dumbrava, if he offered to be evicted from Latvia, all Russian-speaking and in protest against the arrival of refugees to organize a referendum on the secession of Latvia from the EU?
No. Neither the presence in Latvia Russian-speaking residents, nor the membership of Latvia in EU is not among the protected values, so the liability would arise only if proof of Dumbrava did it at the instigation of a foreign country to harm the security of Latvia. If Dumbrava serves to attach Latvia to Estonia to make independent Bauska city or to appoint the head of state a dictator with unlimited powers, criminal liability should follow.
Where is the initiative for the revision of the Criminal law?
Judging from the annotations, amendments were preparing intelligence services (Office for the protection of the Constitution, the security Police, military intelligence and security), coordinated with the working group of the Ministry of justice.
Why are these amendments necessary?
In summary given that they are aimed at combating the threats of a hybrid war — there are not punishable seemingly innocuous actions that in the long term can lead to great damage to the security (for example, calls for independence through non-violent means can lead to the creation and strengthening of social movements, and then — to the loss of the independence).
But you cannot dismiss the logic of persecutors. If the current article create the problem in the application, then it is only logical to change the wording to prove I had less. Now in a criminal case by the appeal to independence Latgale would have to prove that the author of the call ignored the Constitution — for example, encouraged to separate Latgale not by referendum in Latvia, and by a separate referendum only in Latgale. In new version this problem disappears — any call for the separation of Latgale will be prosecuted.
Which countries have similar legislation?
I do not know. The authors cite the example of Estonia, but there are similar articles still have, as a rule, the reservation of violent methods.
What is the probability that the amendments will be approved?
They adopted on first reading on April 7, assigned to the second and the last. Since 2/3 of MPs voted for urgency, the President cannot make amendments not to sign, they will enter into force after publication.
How will react the international community?
Most likely, at this stage in any way. Because the inhabitants of Latvia against the amendments do not protest, it does not appear, and therefore there can be no reaction. Perhaps, the reaction will appear when you are the first convictions under the new wording, depending on the absurdity of the charges.
What will change in Latvia, if the amendments are adopted?
People will be afraid to come up with ideas that can be interpreted as being directed against the independence, sovereignty, territorial unity, and aimed at the overthrow of state power or change the state system. Also will be afraid to cooperate with foreign countries and organizations.