Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, a political ally of Tatjana Zdanoka, a Latvian member of the European Parliament accused of spying for Russia, defended Zdanoka and characterized the allegations against her as a "witch hunt," the independent Russian media outlet The Insider reported on Feb. 2, citing comments Mitrofanovs made in an interview the previous day.
The Insider reported earlier in the week that Zdanoka, who represented Latvia in the European Parliament from 2004-2018 and again from 2019 until the present, is alleged to have been a Russian asset since at least 2015.
Mitrofanovs is the co-chair along with Zdanoka of the Latvian Russian Union political party.
The collaborative investigation cited leaked emails and other communication between Zdanoka and her supposed handlers in Russian intelligence to support its allegations.
Both Zdanoka and Mitrofanovs did not deny that most of the leaked documents were real, but instead insisted that they were either "innocuous" or that Zdanoka was unaware that the individuals she communicated with were Russian intelligence operatives.
Mitrofanovs said that the emails were intentionally leaked to "intimidate" representatives of the European Parliament opposed to the bloc's aid for Ukraine. He added that it was part of a larger "witch hunt" to uncover anyone with opposing views within the European Parliament.
The phrase "witch hunt" was later echoed by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov in comments about the allegations against Zdanoka.
The day after The Insider published its investigation into Zdanoka, the European Parliament announced it was looking into the matter.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola "takes these allegations very seriously and is referring the case to the Advisory Committee on the Code of Conduct," a parliamentary spokesperson said.
In response to the investigation, Zdanoka said, "I have never been associated with the KGB, unlike many well-known Latvian figures, and I have not cooperated with any other intelligence agencies."