Deutsche Welle reported on Monday that the European Parliament and the Latvian State Security Service (VDD) have launched an investigation into accusations made over the weekend that Tatjana Ždanoka, a Latvian member of the European Parliament (MEP), had been an asset of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) for almost 20 years.

The Latvian-based The Insider had carried out a combined investigation with journalists from Estonia’s Delfi, Latvia’s Re:Baltica Sweden’s Expressen newspaper and published accusations against the MEP on Monday.

According to its investigation into Ždanoka, who has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004, had been in contact with two known FSB case officers since 2005.

The news site reported having seen leaked e-mails arranging in-person meetings with her Russian handler, making requests for funding of her activity in Latvia and Brussels, and providing detailed reports of her work as a European legislator, particularly relating to her activities to reinforce pro-Kremlin sentiment in Latvia and others in the Baltic region.

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The articles named Dmitry Gladey as Ždanoka’s FSB handler from around 2004 to 2013. They also said that since 2013, she had been in regular contact with Sergei Beltyukov, a known FSB operative since 1993.

Ždanoka was a co-founder of the Russian Union of Latvia party in 1998, which has promoted a pro-Russian agenda since then, although it failed to pass the five percent threshold in the last parliamentary elections.

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The thin sliver of land has been de facto controlled by pro-Russian forces since the collapse of the Soviet Union but is internationally recognized as part of Moldova.

A European Parliament spokesperson Jüri Lass said that the parliament’s President Roberta Metsola was taking the allegations against the Latvian MEP “very seriously” and that “investigations within the European Parliament have been opened” by its advisory committee on the code of conduct. Lass also said that Metsola would bring the issue to the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents on Jan. 31.

If the investigation results confirm the accusations, it could lead to sanctions against Ždanoka from the President of the European Parliament, and while the Parliament does not have the authority to dismiss an MEP, the Latvian authorities can do so under certain conditions.

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At the same time the Latvian State Security Service (VDD) is also looking into the accusations. A VDD statement said that it has assessed “Ždanoka’s status as the deputy of European Parliament and her legal immunity ensured by her status, which was a significant aspect that contributed to her activities to support Russia’s geopolitical interests.”

The VDD also highlighted that Latvia only declared cooperation with a foreign state a crime in 2016 and that Ždanoka’s activities from 2005 to 2013 could not be classed as criminal.

The agency said: “Even though VDD’s assessment is that such activities posed threat to our country and VDD… it was not possible to call a person to criminal liability for such activities.”

The Insider report had little concrete evidence of FSB inspired activity over the last 10 years, although Ždanoka often defended Russia’s position and interests both in Brussels and Riga with respect to Moscow’s behavior in occupied Crimea and Syria and what she categorizes as “Latvia’s persecution of the Russian language.”

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According to AFP, when asked about Ždanoka, Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s spokesman, dismissed the accusations as a politically motivated witch-hunt and an echo of the McCarthy era of the Cold War era, saying: “How many people were arrested back then, thrown in jail after being accused of ties to Communists or the KGB? It’s the same thing.

“We strongly condemn all of this,” he added, saying the accusations flew in the face of Europe’s “supposed democratic ideals.”

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