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Latvian opposition lawmaker suspected of spying for Russia

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Latvia’s parliament has stripped the immunity of a left-leaning, opposition lawmaker who is suspected of spying for Russia, the Baltic News Agency said Thursday.

Janis Adamsons who was an interior minister in the 1990s and who left a loaded firearm under a stack of paper during a session of the Latvian Parliament in 1996, leading to a permanent ban on handguns in the building, has denied any wrongdoing.

Adamsons, a member of Harmony — Latvia’s largest party which traditionally has catered to the Baltic country’s sizeable ethnic Russian minority — called the vote “a circus,” saying, ”I have not the slightest clue what I am being accused of,” according to the Baltic region’s largest news agency.

A nation of nearly 2 million that borders Russia, Latvia has an ethnic-Russian minority of around 25 percent. The left-leaning Harmony party has been shunned by other Latvian parties over suspicions of being too cozy with Moscow despite its pro-European Union stance.

At Thursday’s emergency session of the 100-seat Saeima assembly, Adamsons’ immunity was lifted after a 69-5 vote with four politicians abstaining, BNS said.

The move to strip his parliamentary immunity came after the Prosecutor General’s Office requested permission to search, detain and take Adamsons into custody. It was not immediately known whether that has happened.

Lawmakers told BNS that Adamsons could be charged with espionage, saying the evidence against him was such that it did not provoke any objections or comment in the assembly. No formal accusation was made public.

The Latvian State Security Service, an intelligence service, told BNS that it was investigating a case of spying related to Adamsons, who works in the assembly’s Defense, Interior Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee, but has no clearance for classified information, BNS wrote.

The Associated Press