Latvia foreign minister resigns in wake of criminal probe and corruption allegations News
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Latvia foreign minister resigns in wake of criminal probe and corruption allegations

Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karinš announced his resignation this week, following the initiation of a criminal investigation into his excessive use of private jets and alleged misconduct by his office during his tenure as the Baltic country’s prime minister from 2019-2023, according to local media. Latvian public broadcaster LSM reported Karinš’s resignation following a meeting that took place between Karinš and incumbent Prime Minister (PM) Evika Silina on Thursday. 

The minister’s resignation will become effective on April 10, after which the country’s parliament, also known as the Saeima, will be able to vote for his replacement. Karinš did not respond to any request for further comment. 

During his stint as prime minister, Karinš reportedly went on 36 foreign visits using private planes, totaling a cost of €1.3M (approximately $1.4M). Approximately €600,000 was withdrawn from state funds, while a further €700,000 was covered by the EU, LSM reported

Controversy over the minister’s air travel expenses first emerged in December 2023, at which time he attempted to justify his actions by asserting that his decision to charter private jets was in the interest of time management. At the time, Karinš made a promise to the Latvian public that he would not resign. However, following the prosecutor general’s office’s announcement of an impending criminal investigation into Karinš’s use of private jets, the country’s top diplomat decided to step down. 

Following Karinš’s brief statement to Latvian media, Prime Minister Silina asserted that Karinš was acting responsibly in deciding to step down. The country’s PM took time to emphasize that her predecessor used the flights exclusively for Latvian interests and was leaving his post solely to remove any opportunity for allegations of preferential treatment or abuse of power. 

Karinš will, however, continue to run in the upcoming European Parliament elections, which Silina said will allow voters to evaluate his actions as a politician.

The Saeima is expected to vote April 11 to replace Karinš in his post. At present, a name for a potential replacement candidate has not yet been made public.