On the one hand, the authorities of Latvia have tried to turn the arrival in the country of NATO military equipment into a national holiday and a free ride. On the other hand, photographing this technique can cost freedom if you are Russian and referred to "unreliable". At the junction of these two factors, a mysterious lawsuit arose, which the republic is trying to keep quiet about.
The trial of a railroadman from Yelgava Alexander Krasnoperov began on 12 June, and the date is unlikely to be chosen without intent: a war veteran in Afghanistan is accused of spying for Russia.
"Components of the ABM system or something like that?"
About Krasnoperov's detention became known last fall, but information on his case is still very little - it is diligently metered. In November, the Latvian security police solemnly informed about the "capture of a spy working for foreign countries", but she did not give any details beyond this. "I want to thank the security police, which did a great job," Interior Minister Richard Kozlovskis said in this regard.
The story was interested in the opposition activist Vladimir Linderman, who was himself a victim of the special services: he was accused of storing explosives and preparing an attempt on the president of Latvia, was kept in prison, but because of the complete lack of evidence, the court issued an acquittal verdict. Since then, Linderman has paid special attention to helping people who became politicians in Latvia.
It was Linderman who managed to establish the name of the detained "spy", that is, Krasnoperova, a member of the "Soglasie" party and an employee of the "Latvian Railway" with thirty years of experience. To him, the 85 article of the Latvian Criminal Law (espionage) was applied with the amendments adopted last spring on the actions in the conditions of the "hybrid war". "As far as I understand, all his fault is that he photographed NATO military equipment arriving in Latvia and sent pictures to his acquaintance in Russia," Linderman told VZGLYAD.
There are many questions to this matter. "The armored vehicles of the NATO countries, which arrived in the country for training exercises or entered the armament of the Latvian army, is classified information? Krasnoperov, according to the authorities, did not just do "Selfie" against the background of tanks, but also studied the movement of military units. Yes, even if he studied, so what? The government itself has transformed the stay of NATO units in the territory of Latvia into a continuous festive PR. Let us recall the public overtaking of armored vehicles, with arrivals to the central areas of cities, the children were taken to the armor, to the hatches of cars, the residents were photographed with crews. Then why not send pictures to friends? "- Linderman marvels.
In one of his articles, he also wondered whether "some secret weapon" - "components of a missile defense system or something like that" - comes to Latvia.
Another fundamental question is whether there is evidence that the railroadman acted on the instructions of the foreign special services, because otherwise there is simply no corpus delicti. "Why should the Russian secret services get such a catchy way to get the data they can get without leaving the office after reading a couple of Latvian websites, including the Defense Ministry website?" Continues Linderman. He does not exclude that the arrest of a "spy" is indicative - in the conditions of a "hybrid war" such simply can not be absent, and Krasnoperov was referred to as "unreliable" because he is a member of the society of Afghan soldiers.
Now Alexander Krasnoperov is in the Jelgava prison. From work he was fired immediately after his arrest, his wife and two children stayed at home. The court, at the request of the prosecutor, is held in closed session.
"What is specifically incriminated remains a mystery. His lawyer does not communicate with journalists, as a result of the media, according to the prosecutor's office, they report something unintelligible. Collected and transmitted information abroad, not subject to disclosure.
Well, what exactly did you collect and transmit? They write: photo and video materials that record the movement by train of echelons with NATO military equipment. But that these photos or videos become "information not subject to disclosure", a person should be warned about non-disclosure and sign the appropriate paper. I spoke with two friends working on the railway: they say that no one signed such a paper. The defense strategy, as I understand it, is to avoid publicity so as not to harm the accused. Sometimes this is correct, but not in political or politicized cases. Here publicity is only a plus, "Linderman summed up in a conversation with a correspondent of the newspaper VZGLYAD.
The Latvian press appealed to the security police for explanations, but the spokesperson for the special service Liga Peterson said that the agency will not comment. At the same time, the police noticed that "Linderman in this case has no procedural status and, therefore, he does not have access to information that would allow making objective conclusions about the circumstances of the case." In this regard, the PB calls "to critically evaluate Linderman's statements and the sources from which he could draw this information." For its part, the official edition of Diena ("Day") directly asked the Latvians "not to be useful idiots of Linderman."
"Selfies", Afghans and other national threats
Perhaps Krasnoperov really was hurt by the fact that he once fought in Afghanistan. In Latvia, to veterans-Afghans, of whom there are over three and a half thousand, the attitude is special.
In July last year, the security police disrupted the holding of their international rally - the event was to be held near Jelgava under the motto: "Peace is peace, wars are not needed, that's the motto of friendship!"
A few months earlier, the Independent Morning Newspaper published an article by publicist Janis Lasmanis, who called on the authorities to pay close attention to the unification of Afghans. The publicist had fears that "under the roof of these structures are preparing the ground for minds susceptible to Russian ideology, they are prepared, if necessary, to organize assistance in spreading ideas that are unfriendly for Latvia."
Already at the beginning of this year, in a broadcast of the Latvian program "Nothing Personal" on TV3, a story was shown in which it was alleged that Moscow was allegedly trying to use veteran societies for espionage activities in the Baltic states. There also was information that Krasnoperov was a member of the organization of former Afghan warriors "Shuravi" and maintained contacts with his colleagues living in Kaliningrad. And the chief of the security police Normund Mezhviets confirmed "Russia's attempts to use veteran organizations for espionage activities in Latvia".
But the portal BaltNews.lv managed to communicate with the participant of events reminiscent of the case Krasnoperova. Yelgavchanin named Anatoly said that the year before last, too, almost got into an unpleasant situation because of the desire to photograph for his blog military equipment, which suddenly arrived on the freight train to the city railway station.
"The structure was not closed, the territory was not fenced in any way, there were no forbidden signs anywhere near. And the event, of course, brought together a whole crowd of onlookers: people, as usual, took pictures on mobile phones, made "selfies" and immediately exhibited their "trophies" on the Net. I took a photo and I, after which a military man came running up to me and began to demand that the picture be deleted immediately, explaining that the object is secret and shooting is prohibited. I had a reasonable question. If the object is so secret, why is its delivery and unloading carried out before the eyes of the whole people, in broad daylight at the station station, and requests not to be taken off in the oral form and not supported by any document? ", The eLgovanian was surprised.
As a result, he was not arrested, but threatened - if the pictures appear on the Internet, there will be big troubles. Anatoly did not heed: "I did not send any pictures, but put it on my page in the public domain. I do not see any crime in this: I photographed not in private territory, but in a public place, not designated and not fenced. Specially read the law on the Internet to make sure that I did not violate anything. No trouble followed, but the sediment remained. "
Apparently, aware of the precariousness of legal grounds in the fight against SELFI, in early June the Latvian government approved amendments to regulations prohibiting the photo and video recording of so-called critical infrastructure facilities, including hydroelectric power stations, railway bridges, special services buildings and state machinery. At the same time, the security police noted that the key word in the innovations would be "targeted shooting," that is, when certain persons for a long time removed an object to study its weaknesses, security features and so on. Near each such object will be set pointers "No agreement to photograph and shoot is prohibited."
Situations similar to the one in which Krasnoperov turned out are not unique to Latvia alone. In Russia, people can also get into trouble because of suspicious photos. However, more often such cases occur with foreigners.
For example, last August, the Nationalguards arrested two foreign citizens in the Leningrad Region who conducted an unauthorized survey of the nuclear power plant in Sosnovy Bor.
At the beginning of 2016, a citizen of the United States was detained near the Chkalovsky military airfield in the Moscow region, trying to capture the equipment based there.
And more than two years ago in Voronezh for shooting railroad tracks were detained photojournalist of the Danish edition of Information Sigrid Nighaard, but after the identification was released.
Krasnoperov will not get off so easily - he already had to spend more than six months behind bars. And, judging by the mood of the prosecutor's office, this is only the beginning.