In Wake of Wiesenthal Center Protest, Latvian Prosecutor to Face Disciplinary Measures

The Simon Wiesenthal Center revealed today that the Latvian government had indicated that it planned to take disciplinary measures against a prosecutor who had harassed a Latvian citizen who had submitted information regarding a suspected Latvian Nazi war criminal to the Center in the framework of its “Operation: Last Chance.” In the case in question, the prosecutor Vija Popova had pressured Bauska resident Larissa Grekova to sign a false affidavit indicating that she has no evidence whatsoever against a suspected Latvian Nazi war criminal whose name she had submitted to the Center based on survivor testimony. When Grekova refused to sign the affidavit, Popova asked her whether she or her mother were Jewish (neither is) and reprimanded her for ”compromising Latvia” by submitting information to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Upon learning of this incident from Grekova, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff immediately submitted a protest of Popova’s conduct to Latvian General Prosecutor Janis Maizitis.

Zuroff met on Friday in Riga with Maizitis and leading Justice Ministry officials who informed him that the ministry had just completed an inquiry into his complaint and that Popova would be brought before a panel of eleven senior prosecutors who would recommend a punishment ranging from dismissal to censure. In response, Zuroff welcomed the decision, but cautioned that it had to be determined whether Popova acted on her own or was following guidelines established by her superiors, a question which was only natural given Latvia’s failure to prosecute a single Latvian Nazi war criminal since it regained its independence in 1991.

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