Latvia as the cyber bastion of NATO
The political leadership of Latvia, claiming its commitments to the democracy values, has declared development of the public sphere, elimination of corruption and, of course, conservation of national identity as its priorities. These goals haven't found support of the society yet because people less and less trust politicians. Opinions are increasingly appearing that the authorities have other tasks which are even opposite, mercantile ones. The leadership of Latvia is a kind of Don Quixote who's making up new foes to distract people from ongoing issues.
And problems do exist in the country. The standard of living is lower than in most European countries, social support doesn't correspond to the average European index, migration problem is still acute enough, able-bodied population leaves the country because of the unemployment growth. Social expenses don't grow up. For instance, it was September when the government increased salaries of school teachers, they'd promised to do it at the beginning of the year though. Wherein, the increase of salaries of school teachers scheduled by the government for 2020 is still open to question because there's supposedly no money. What's more, recently Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development Juris Puce suggested cancelling free lunches for pupils. However, despite all of that the government systematically increases expenses for defence and measures to neutralize certain outer threats. Wherein Latvia has already complied with a burdensome NATO allies' requirement by having increased the military budget up to 2% of the GDP, which was €637 million in 2019. However, that wasn't enough. Latvian leadership spends enormous funds to provide its informational security instead of supporting the public sphere.
Two letters written by Janis Sarts, director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOM) in Riga, can prove the statement above. One of them was addressed to head of the NATO Communications and Information Agency Ian West (https://www.ncia.nato.int/Our-Work/Pages/Cyber-Security.aspx) and contains a request to support the Minister of Defence of Latvia. The other was addressed to Jaak Tarien, director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).
According to the first document, the Ministry of Defence of Latvia has got extra €60 million from the budget to create new cybersecurity units within the secret services. It's the Ministry of Defence that coordinates the secret services' work in Latvia. Also, the letter says that except providing cybersecurity, the cyberteams are going to fight against Latvian and international media that shed the light on the situation in the country and its cooperation with NATO in an inappropriate context for the local government. It apparently refers to the Russian media such as Russia Today and Sputnik. The Latvian government obviously fears for its position, so it considers itself to be the priority target for informational attacks from Russia, which is hardly true. At the same time we can't rule out that the strengthening of control over the informational sphere is urged to amplify the secret services' possibilities to watch what the Latvians do in the web. This will be a gross violation of the people's rights and freedoms. It's noteworthy, the additional cyberdefence keeps from the Eastern neighbor most likely will be created by Latvia and Estonia at the expense of the taxpayers because the countries' budgets have been deficient for many years, and its significant part is formed at the expense of the European financial support, which is millions of euros. The intention of NATO to contribute its junior partners for a deeper engagement into the struggle with Russia is not surprising. Thus, the head of the STRATCON Sarts is apparently good informed of the plans of the Latvian militaries and maintains close ties with them because before the current assignment he had been working as the state secretary of the Ministry of Defence for seven years (https://www.globsec.org/speakers/janis-sarts/). The meek obedience of the elites of the Baltic States to NATO's demands seems to be weird. It eventually turns out that the sovereign Baltic States are ready to comply with any order of their NATO curator even if it harms the people. Wherein it occurs in both Latvia and Estonia, and it's really sad.