Today activists of the Latvian Russian Union held a picket at the Freedom Monument protesting against the arbitrariness of the State Security Service. Yesterday our colleagues Andrei Yakovlev, Andrei Solopenko, Alla Berezovskaya and Vladimir Linderman were subjected to unprecedented pressure from the authorities. They were searched, office equipment and communications were seized (including from family members), and then they were interrogated in the premises of the State Security Service. They are going to be charged with violating the sanctions policy of the European Union. All their “sins” consisted in the fact that their publications were posted on Internet portals belonging to the international news agency Russia-Segodnya, headed by Dmitry Kiselev, included in the sanctions list.

This case clearly demonstrates how untenable are the assertions that personal sanctions against some high-ranking Russian officials will not affect “ordinary” people in Russia. In fact, they are already affecting many people, including those outside Russia: journalists from Latvia writing in Russian are losing their jobs and prosecuted for publishing in the few still operating Baltic information portals, and Latvian Russian-speakers are deprived of the latest sources of information about what is happening in their country.