Human Relations Committee Chair Alderman Moore Calls For Meeting With Top Latvian Officials To Discuss Alleged Human Rights Violations
City Council to Hold Hearings on Alleged Latvian Government Abuses Against Prominent Latvian Couple
CHICAGO, May 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Thomas Canepa:
Chicago Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward), chairman of the Chicago City Council's Committee on Human Relations, today called on Latvian government officials to meet with him during the NATO Summit this week to discuss a high-profile case in which a prominent Latvian couple's human rights allegedly have been violated.
Moore also said the Human Relations Committee will hold official hearings in the coming weeks to discuss alleged human rights abuses in the country. If the hearings find probable cause that human rights abuses have taken place, Moore said he will call upon his City Council colleagues to adopt a resolution, asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO to demand that the Latvian government drop the more than one hundred legal proceedings against Vladimir Vashkevich and Inara Vilkaste.
Twenty-two top members of the government of the Republic of Latvia--including the President Andris Berzins and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics-- will be in Chicago this weekend attending the NATO Summit and asking NATO's protection for their country.
U.S. leaders--including Moore, U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski and Chicago's Thomas Canepa--have called for an inquiry into the legal cases pending against the couple. According to Moore, the high-profile legal cases in Latvia have raised human rights concerns, as more than one hundred legal proceedings have been launched against Vilkaste and Vashkevich allegedly without any serious evidence.
Moore sent a letter to the Latvian Embassy in Washington today, asking for the meeting.
"The Latvian government will be asking NATO, including the United States and Chicago's taxpayers, to help fund tens of millions of dollars in NATO air coverage," Moore said. "Before we spend one dime protecting Latvia, the Latvian government must assure us that it respects human rights. Dismissing the hundreds of pending cases against Vilkaste and Vashkevich would go a long way to demonstrating its commitment to basic standards of fairness and due process," Moore added.
The Vilkaste and Vashkevich cases have gained international attention with the formation of the Justice for Inara Committee, which is led by Walter Schwimmer, former Secretary General for the Council of Europe.
Rep. Lipinski recently asked Secretary of State Clinton and the State Department to provide an update on the legal cases to determine if human rights were violated.
Mr. Vashkevich was once a top Latvian customs official, who prosecuted customs fraud and money laundering cases against individuals who happened to be friends of other top Latvian government officials. As a result of Mr. Vashkevich's efforts to prosecute fraud in his country, the Latvian government allegedly initiated a series of systematic actions to deprive Mr. Vashkevich and his wife of their civil, legal and human rights.
The Latvian government allegedly initiated more than one hundred spurious legal proceedings against Mr. Vashkevich and Ms. Vilkaste that lack any serious evidence to support the claims and charges.
In one of the most grievous legal proceedings, the Latvian government allegedly brought false tax evasion charges against Mr. Vashkevich, which resulted in a two-year prison sentence. And in the most recent prosecution brought against Mr. Vashkevich, the Latvian government allegedly denied for months Mr. Vashkevich's request to reveal the evidence against him and also allegedly has denied Mr. Vashkevich's request for an open and public trial.
Mr. Vashkevich also allegedly was the target of an attempted murder, which resulted in severe bodily injuries, and an arson of his automobile. At the same time, Mr. Vashkevich's wife, Inara Vilkaste, also became an object of numerous criminal acts, including extortion, arson, attempted murder and illegal searches of her property.
In an attempt to bring further leverage against Mr. Vashkevich, officials in the Latvian security services allegedly brought numerous spurious criminal charges against Ms. Vilkaste and their children. From 2006 to 2012, Ms. Vilkaste allegedly has been forced to defend herself in over 150 criminal civil proceedings. More than three hundred court hearings involving Ms. Vilkaste allegedly have been held and she allegedly has been summoned to law enforcement agencies 125 times as a witness.
In the same time period, the Latvian government allegedly has supported a concerted "black PR" campaign against Mr. Vashkevich and Ms. Vilkaste in which they have been the subjects of nearly 3,000 negative stories on Latvian TV and in Internet publications and other sources of Latvian mass media. The negative media campaign against Mr. Vashkevich and Ms. Vilkaste allegedly has brought them to the brink of psychological breakdown.
"If true, the allegations I have heard thus far seem to point to a pattern of violations of the couple's civil, legal and human rights. Chicago's taxpayers do not want to support a government that doesn't allow for basic human rights," Moore observed.
Alderman Joe Moore, +1-773-338-5796
SOURCE Thomas CanepaBack to top