A new building for Latvia’s intelligence service, the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) will be built next to the former Brasa Prison in Riga, at 1A Upes Street, the LETA news agency has learned.
According to declassified documents posted on the government’s website, in May 2016 the government of Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers) supported in principle moving the Constitutional Protection Bureau to a building registered in the Land Register in the name of the Justice Ministry.
Justice Minister Janis Bordans’ (New Conservative Party) press secretary Andris Vitenburgs confirmed to LETA that the State Chancellery had declassified the document following Bordans’ suggestion, in order to prevent further speculation regarding alternative headquarters for the State Security Service (VDD), proposed by the Justice Ministry as part of a controversy about the planned site, as recently reported by LSM .
Construction of an administrative complex for the judicial authorities at 1A Upes Street is already under way. The complex will house the Constitutional Protection Bureau, Prison Administration, and State Forensic Science Bureau.
The Forensic Science Bureau is located in another building on Upes Street, but its premises do not meet the current requirements.
The Constitutional Protection Bureau is currently located on Miera Street, near the Great Cemetery, while the Prison Administration is located on Stabu Street.
Vitenburgs confirmed that, after the site was taken over in 2016, the Justice Ministry inspected it, carried out a dendrological study and prepared several site management proposals.
Several meetings with representatives from various public organizations and residents were held to inform them about the development plans for the area, Vitenburgs added. in contrast with the VDD case in which the building plans were only belatedly revealed after more than 15,000 people had signed a petition saying they wanted a new public park at the abandoned site.
The Justice Ministry has not revealed the cost of the Upes Street complex or when the project is to be completed.
In view of the situation with the new building for the VDD, Bordans at the end of January sent a request to Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) to convene a meeting of stakeholders in order to discuss an alternative solution proposed by the Justice Ministry – moving the Security Service to the building on Upes Street. Bordans’ letter has been forwarded to Interior Minister Sandis Girgens (KPV LV).
The main tasks of SAB include intelligence, counter-intelligence and protection of state (official) secrets. As the National Security Authority SAB also ensures protection of NATO and EU classified information in public institutions engaged in work with such information.