Latvian MEP Ždanoka has been cooperating with Russia's FSB for at least 20 years - investigation
Tatjana Ždanoka, a member of the European Parliament from Latvia, has been cooperating with Russian special services since at least 2004, reporting on her activities to FSB supervisors and asking for funds
This is stated in an investigation by the Bellingcat group and The Insider with the participation of Estonian, Latvian and Swedish journalists who have read the hacked emails of Ždanoka.
It is noted that since October 2005, the MEP has been corresponding with her curator, Dmitry Gladey, an employee of the FSB's St. Petersburg office, who formally worked for little-known election observation organizations.
For example, it reported on conferences in Narva and Tallinn sponsored by the European Parliament's Green faction and the European Free Alliance. The latter organization, of which Ždanoka was a member, was explicitly called by the Estonian Internal Security Service an FSB cover-up, which was "prepared in St. Petersburg and presented as a triumph in a report directly to the FSB director.”
Judging by the correspondence, Ždanoka met with Gladey quite regularly in Europe and Moscow. The content of the correspondence usually consisted of the MP's stories about her activities in Europe, which were related to criticizing the authorities of the Baltic states. The letters also included requests for funds, for example, about $6,000 to create a documentary and purchase St. George's ribbons and other paraphernalia for Victory Day in 2010.
Ždanoka organized a hearing in the European Parliament on the removal of a monument to Soviet soldiers from the center of Tallinn in 2007, and then reported to her supervisor on the relevant media publications written by her "intern" Ivan Yengashev.
After 2013, according to the correspondence, Ždanoka got a new curator, named Sergey Krasin. The Insider has established his real identity - he is an FSB officer from St. Petersburg, Sergei Beltyukov.
In addition, Ždanoka worked with another FSB operative, Artem Kureev. According to the investigation, in 2014, the MP applied to the Belgian Embassy in Moscow to obtain a Schengen visa for Kureev to visit the European Parliament.
In a conversation with investigative journalists, the woman did not deny the authenticity of the letters, but refused to comment on their content.
"I cannot consider this text to be questions asked of me, as it is based on information that, by definition, could not have been at your disposal," Ždanoka told Re: Baltica.
Instead, she confirmed her acquaintance with Gladey. Ždanoka claims to have met him in the early 1970s at a campground in the North Caucasus, where they were learning to ski.
"I met Dmitry and his wife several times in Leningrad, where they lived. They also came to Riga several times. Later, when their daughter married a Latvian, they regularly came to Riga to visit their relatives. The guy moved to St. Petersburg with his wife, started a successful business there and opened a restaurant serving Latvian cuisine," the deputy told The Insider.
She added that as a member of the European Parliament she attended several conferences organized by Gladey's organization in St. Petersburg. Ždanoka did not explain why she sent Gladey drafts and press releases for approval. She also denies knowing that Gladey was working for Russian intelligence services.
"I can testify that of those with whom I sat at the same table, only Vladimir Putin and Sergei Naryshkin were the only ones I knew for sure to be employees of the Russian FSB," Ždanoka said in a commentary to journalists.
As the Latvian State Security Service stated in a commentary to Re:Baltica, since 2016, Latvian law has provided for punishment for assisting a foreign state or organization in activities directed against Latvia. This law does not have retroactive effect.
"Therefore, the historical episodes mentioned in your questions cannot be qualified as a crime," said the head of the department.
However, one of Ždanoka’s letters was sent after 2017. "We will definitely evaluate this," he added.
Who is Tatjana Ždanoka?
The future MEP was born in 1950 in Riga. She graduated from the Latvian State University and joined the Communist Party of Latvia. In the late 1980s, she actively fought to keep Latvia within the USSR. After Latvia regained its independence, she continued her political activities, relying on the support of ethnic Russians in the country. Among other things, she launched a radio program in Latvia called The Russian School Hour.
Ždanoka is co-chair of the Russian Union of Latvia party. She has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004. In 2022, Ždanoka voted against a European Parliament resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
After that, the European Free Alliance suspended the membership of the Russian Union of Latvia in the party. According to Re:Baltica, due to changes in Latvian legislation in May 2024, Ždanoka will not be able to run for re-election to the European Parliament, after which he will lose his parliamentary immunity.