European Socialists and Democrats express their dissatisfaction with the decision by the Latvian court to sentence Maxim Koptelov, an author of a petition calling for Latvia to join Russia, to six months in jail.
Commenting on this abuse case, S&D vice-president Knut Fleckenstein MEP, said:
"We consider the court's decision as unacceptable, especially knowing that the petition was intended to be a humorous commentary on the state of Latvian politics and not a serious attempt to gather support for the – absurd – idea of Latvia joining Russia, as its author himself admitted. It is clear that we do not agree with such a petition, but we understood that this was intended to be a joke.
"It is outrageous that in an EU member country, where the freedom of speech is supposed to be respected, a court sentences a person to jail for such a statement. However misguided the petition, this is surely not a reason to sentence a person to jail."
S&D MEP Andrejs Mamikins added:
"Before I came to the European Parliament as an MEP, I presented an analytical programme "Without Censure" on Latvian TV. During live transmissions we interviewed different people, sometimes with complete opposite opinions. Many of them expressed their points of view on the future of Latvia as an independent state, on development and building a strong democratic civil society.
It is a dangerous message the Latvian court is putting out by sentencing Mr Koptelov to jail on the grounds of a joke. What will happen in my country tomorrow? Will all the journalists with the "incorrect" opinions go to jail? We must stop this dangerous tendency. The European Union always was and is a platform of free thinking."