Viewing cable 10RIGA60
Title: Latvia: Special Media Reaction on Latvia's Decision to

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
10RIGA602010-02-03 15:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Riga
VZCZCXRO5347
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHRA #0060/01 0341556
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031556Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6275
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RIGA 000060 
 
SIPDIS 
 
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TAGS: SCUL KPAO PGOV LH PREL CJAN
SUBJECT:  Latvia: Special Media Reaction on Latvia's Decision to 
Accept Guantanamo Detainee 
 
RIGA 00000060  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
¶1.  Summary:  Press coverage of the Latvian Government's decision to 
accept a former Guantanamo detainee has been extensive, largely 
factual, and consistent with both Latvian and U.S. Government 
statements on the issue, despite some sarcastic commentary in 
Russian-language newspapers.  Editorial comments have cast the 
decision as a pragmatic move to cooperate with the United States. 
Both Russian and Latvian-language papers have reported on the 
Government's announcement that the detainee would like to learn the 
Latvian language.  Some Russian media sources have used a negative 
tone in reporting that the detainee will receive financial support 
from the United States.  End summary. 
 
¶2.  Key Headlines: 
 
-- Latvian-language centrist Diena (front page):  "U.S. Prisoner 
Liberated for Life in Latvia." 
 
-- Latvian-language center-left Neatkariga Rita Avize (front page, 
continued on inside page):  "Controversial Solidarity with the 
United States: To Show Solidarity with the United States, We Will 
Accept A Former Inmate." 
 
-- Latvian-language right wing Latvijas Avize (inside page): 
"Prisoner comes," "Guantanamo Inmate Will Live in Latvia," and 
"Modern Day Gulag?" 
 
-- Russian-language centrist Telegraf (inside page):  "Guantanamo 
Inmate Might Become a Citizen." 
 
-- Russian-language center-left Chas (inside page): "Obama: You've 
Got a Present from Guantanamo." 
 
-- Russian-language leftist Vesti Sevodnya (inside page): "Welcome!" 
(Written in Latvian) 
 
¶3.  Press Coverage (chronological from latest): 
Press coverage of the Latvian Government's decision to accept a 
former Guantanamo detainee was extensive, largely factual, and 
consistent with both Latvian and U.S. Government statements on the 
issue, despite some sarcastic commentary in the Russian-language 
newspapers. The centrist daily, Diena, local television stations, 
and the Russian-language newspapers Chas and Telegraf ran factual 
stories consistent with information provided by the Latvian 
Government.  The stories centered largely on the detainee's origins, 
background, and plans for integration into Latvian society. 
 
-- Latvijas Avize, one of Latvia's most widely-circulated dailies, 
editorialized that the significance of accepting the detainee should 
not be overly exaggerated. The paper asserted that the decision was 
comparable to sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and should be 
looked upon as a foreign policy issue. The author remarked that 
relations between Latvia and the United States have changed since 
President Obama took office, but not as drastically as some might 
worry. The paper opined that accepting this "victim" of the war on 
terrorism is not as troublesome as rumors about secret CIA prisons 
in Lithuania. 
 
-- The widely-circulated, sensationalist Russian-language newspaper 
Vesti Sevodnya ran a story under the headline "Laipni Ludzam" - a 
Latvian phrase meaning "Welcome".  The article focused heavily on 
the Government's announcement that the detainee would learn the 
Latvian language and would receive financial support from the United 
States. The newspaper, which is often concerned with the rights of 
non-citizens in Latvia, notes with sarcasm that the Guantanamo 
detainee will be more privileged than Latvia's non-citizen residents 
(typically ethnic Russians), since he will be receiving relocation 
expenses and other monthly benefits, including medical care. 
 
¶4.  Comments by Experts: 
 
-- A Positive Signal to the United States that Latvia is willing to 
"help" 
In an interview with the U.S. based publication, Politico, the 
Latvian Ambassador to the United States said that the decision was 
made in order to "send a signal that Latvia supports the decision to 
close the base" and to "help the administration of President Obama 
to deal with this complicated issue."  According to a Former 
Director of the Latvian Foreign Policy Institute, Atis Leijins, the 
move "represents the country's readiness to help the United States" 
after the United States has provided "assistance to Latvia" for many 
years.  Likewise, former Latvian Ambassador to the United States 
Ojars Kalnins told the national news agency LETA that Latvia "and 
other European countries are trying to help the Americans." 
 
-- Commitment to the European Union 
University of Latvia political scientist Zhaneta Ozolina told the 
online portal Delfi that since the "EU criticized human rights 
violations at Guantanamo prison," Latvia and other EU Member States 
"should take some responsibility."  Former Foreign Minister and 
current Parliamentarian Artis Pabriks told the portal that Latvia 
had to be prepared to take such a step, "if we have already 
supported a common EU position."  Political Scientist Daina Bleiere 
 
RIGA 00000060  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
believes that the move reflects "international solidarity and 
support of the U.S. administration's efforts to prevent human rights 
violations occurring at Guantanamo prison." 
 
-- Implications for National Security 
Ozolina noted that while the detainee's connection to terrorism has 
not been proven, his admission to Latvia will "create a new and 
complex situation."  The detainee's presence will force people to 
"wake up and think about security," said Leijins.  According to 
Bleire, if no evidence of the individual's involvement in terrorism 
has been found in five years, there should be no "negative effect on 
national security." 
 
GARBER