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Kārlis Seržants, a high-ranking member of the Latvian parliament or Saeima and part of the ruling coalition, on Thursday delivered a remarkable interview on Latvian public radio's LR4 Russian-language channel in which he blamed "clever Jews" for some of the nation's main problems.
After beginning to talk about changes to Latvia's national security laws, Seržants - a member of the Greens and Farmers Union political grouping and a member of the Saeima's national security committee - then veered into unfortunate territory, as a transcript of his comments shows.
The former journalist and television presenter said people working to undermine the Latvian state were "mostly people of a very smart ethnicity with lawyers [among them]."
Asked if he was referring to Russians, Seržants replied:
"No, I mean the Jewish ethnicity."
He then elaborated once again on these Jewish legal experts' particular skill in operating "on the edge" of the law.
Challenged by the interviewer over his statement, Seržants clumsily attempted to backtrack by praising the cleverness of Jews as a nationality:
"Well, no I'm not saying it's only [Jews], but Girs, Gaponenko... who else do we have... Zhdanoka, Koren [all prominent pro-Russia activists] -- they are Jews I believe. I am not a chauvinist, absolutely not, and that is exactly why I am telling that being of Jewish ethnicity means being very smart."
With the interviewer again intervening to point out that Latvians or Russians might be equally smart, Seržants responded:
"Right, all of them are smart, but they are, let us say it this way, especially smart."
Seržants' outburst is likely to be highly embarrassing to his party colleague in the Greens and Farmers Union, Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, who is due to leave Latvia for five days' holiday Friday after just one month in charge.
The views expressed by Seržants are even more remarkable given that since 2014 he has been a member of the Saeima group for cooperation with the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.