Raimonds Pauls to the current Latvian authorities: leave, do not disgrace yourselves

Famous Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls, who celebrates his 86th birthday today, in an interview with Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze (Independent Morning Newspaper), expressed regret that Latvia is losing ties with Russia and has essentially become a “province” of the West

Raimonds Pauls to the current Latvian authorities: leave, do not disgrace yourselves

“It is a pity that we have lost the big market that was to the east of us. Mentally it was closer to the West, where no one was waiting for us. You know, I have the feeling that we have become a province not only for the West, which is understandable, but also for the East”, – Pauls lamented.

He has also criticised the National Electronic Media Council (NEMC) for actively seeking to impose bans on the re-broadcasting of Russian television channels.

“We have public radio and public television – sort of independent institutions maintained by the state. Institutions whose task is to preserve Latvian language and Latvian culture, Latvian music and theatre. And now there is not one but two councils for each of these institutions: NESEMI and Council for Public Electronic Media. So, what does NEMC do? It shuts down Russian channels. I’m sorry, what kind of circus is this? Anyone can find all the Russian programmes they want on the Internet. Have these councils done anything to improve programmes on public radio or television?” – asks Pauls.

The famous composer has also advised Latvia’s current ruling politicians not to stand for election again.

“I wish not only the government, but most members of our Saeima, too: don’t take part in the next parliamentary elections and leave with dignity. Many MPs have failed in their job to a point where they cannot go any further. Look who is in charge of various committees of the Saeima: one is a convicted offender and the other is an accused”, – said Pauls.

“A new “enemy of the state” and “information mouthpiece of the Kremlin” has appeared in Latvia. Composer Raimonds Pauls, whose birthday is today, called Latvia a deaf province – a double periphery of the West and the East, into which it transformed itself when it broke off relations with Russia and lost the Russian market. This is not the first time the maestro has made such remarks, but so far he has gotten away with it – who dares to raise his voice against a national treasure? This time Pauls’ words may not go unheeded – the parliamentary elections in Latvia are due in November and the ruling right-wing parties need to somehow retain power in conditions of total unpopularity (they are teetering on the brink of crossing the 5% threshold). A good “patriotic” persecution of a media-promoted dissident usually helps in such situations in the Baltics (read about Ruta Vanagaitė case in Lithuania on Google)”, says political scientist Alexander Nosovich.

In his opinion, Raimonds Pauls could become the “ideal object” of harassment.

“Here you can lead an information campaign on an international scandal, because the maestro is known not only to the Latvian audience, but also Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian and so on throughout the former Soviet Union and part of the former Eastern bloc. From the point of view of Latvian authorities his regular criticism of state of affairs in the homeland is a campaign to discredit Latvia internationally. And who can systematically engage in discrediting? Only an agent of the Kremlin! I would not be surprised if in this capacity Raimonds Pauls gets in the annual public report of the Latvian State Security Service”, – concludes Nosovich.

Today Latvian composer and People’s Artist of the USSR Raimonds Pauls celebrates his 86th birthday. Pauls’ compositions were nationally acclaimed hits in the USSR. He is the author of songs such as “Old Clock”, “One Million Scarlet Roses”, “Love the Pianist”, “Vernisage”, “Grandma by the Side of Grandpa” and many others.

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