Latviski English По-русски
Wednesday 17.01.2018 | Name days: Tenis, Dravis

Former deputy chief of anti-corruption bureau: Christmas lights are more important to Riga mayor than residents’ welfare

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs focuses a lot on ‘shiny things’ and procurements performed by capital associations in which flow of money is hard to control. For example, Ušakovs has decided to allocate from the budget EUR 200,000 for Rīgas Gaisma to procure Christmas decorations. Meanwhile in Riga there are nearly 50 km of streets with no lighting. This demonstrates that the mayor focuses on ‘shiny things’ instead of improving life for Riga’s residents,» former deputy chief of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) Juta Strīķe told BNN in an interview.

«Neither Ušakovs nor Ameriks sit in the committee dealing with people’s requests for municipal assistance»

Strīķe is a member of three committees in Riga City Council: Security, Order and Corruption Prevention Matters Committee; Housing and Environment Committee, and Transport Affairs Committee. These committees also manage Riga City Council’s Transport Department.

According to the politician, the largest amounts of money circulate in the Transport Department. She says that money is constantly and irresponsibly increased there, which, according to her, is absurd. «You see, the Mayor of Riga sits in committees that deal with the largest amounts of money. Neither Ušakov nor Ameriks sit in the Housing and Environment Committee, where people need support from the municipality. This also means there is no money to resolve social problems.»

Strīķe mentions as an example that there are approximately 340 orphans waiting in line for apartments in Riga. They cannot continue living in orphanages because they have reached the age of 18. There are also 210 large families waiting for apartments. 37 families with child invalids also wait in line. The number of people that have reported their homes are in critical state is close to 330. «These numbers are not too large that Riga municipality would not be able to resolve vital problems. By making those matters a priority it would be possible to fix problems next week and make sure queues for municipal apartments reduce in the near future. But for some reason even this is beyond Riga’s ruling officials.»

«Ušakovs will only intervene in areas that hold up his interests. Coincidentally, projects that hold up his interests also juggle absurdly large amounts of money. This includes Transport Department’s plan to introduce a parking system and mobile app to help drivers find free parking space. The cost of this plan is around EUR 9 million. It is also absurd that Riga City council pays bonuses worth half a million euros for ‘well-repaired streets’,» Strīķe adds.

The politician says such unfairness in priorities is likely based on the belief that increasing benefits for residents or repairing apartments would make it harder to perform acts of corruption. «We cannot exclude any possibilities,» Strīķe ironically comments.

Another problem the New Conservative party has noticed is that apartments that have no tenants because they are not repaired also receive heating. «Money is paid for nothing. Apartments continue to break down because no one lives in them. Whenever we bring up this topic to coalition members, they act as though they hear nothing – they care nothing for this problem.»

«Conflict with the law is no reason why a person cannot be given a job in Riga City Council»

Strīķe told BNN that she feel no real difference between working in KNAB and Riga City Council – work in both institutions is based on analysis of a great deal of information.

The city council member notes that in the past she had viewed documents about Riga municipality from a different perspective – a criminal one. «I know about the decisions every member and every committee in the city council have made over the years.»

She is particularly confused that there are people working in Riga City Council who were officially accused of corruption. According to her, those people had selfish interests, and the Mayor of Riga is well-informed of that. «I recognize many names. Some of them are not just members of the city council but city officials as well. My question is – what are they still doing here?» said Strīķe, adding that the ones that were interviewed by KNAB in the past are aware that she knows of the ‘misdeeds’ they had committed during their careers in Riga City Council.

«This only strengthens my belief that conflict with the law is no obstacle in getting a job in Riga City Council. It is, in fact, the opposite – if someone was searched, detained, convicted or accused, it means that person will stay loyal to their employer and not go complain to KNAB. This is a kind of guarantee that the chosen person is one of their own,» Strīķe continues.

«The scheme is – one does not have to pay a bribe, it is possible to employ people fictively»

One of the topics BNN has brought up multiple times over the years is officials combining posts. In Latvia, especially its municipalities, the same people can be found working in different posts. The very fact of combining posts can hide fictive employment. In the case of municipal administrations this can mean illegal payment of wages using taxpayers’ money.

Strīķe also says that fictive employment can exist when combining posts. Fictive employment, according to the former KNAB officer, is already a crime. «If the state or municipality pays you money, and you do nothing – it is basically theft,» she says.

The politician also adds that combining posts often hides an entire scheme beneath it – «no reason to pay bribes, you can just employ them fictively». Proving a post is fictive is harder than accusing someone of taking bribes. «It is worth keeping in mind in such situations that such acts are also robbing the state, which is a criminal offence. Law enforcement institutions should pay more attention to this problem.»

According to Strīķe, if such a thing happens in municipalities, then this is proving loyalty to crime by mayors and keeping certain people on a short leash. «If you don’t listen to me, you won’t get a well-paid additional post. This is a very serious problem for municipalities because money is paid from residents’ wallets,» Strīķe told BNN.

Leave a reply

  1. ZC says:

    Damn, with 200000e it would be possible to illuminate remarkable part of that 50km, even without using Chinese or Polish cheap products. But it could be also interesting to see the receipt of that Christmas decoration. Is there some own line for pocket money?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

EU Affairs Committee: EU Digital Single Market motivated Latvia to perform reforms

European Union’s Digital Single Market strategy offered new opportunities for Latvian businessmen to actively present their services in other member states. The strategy also served as an impulse for the business environment and state administration. The strategy motivates our government to walk the road of reformation more actively and clean up messes that have remained for a long time, said chairperson of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee Lolita Čigāne on Wednesday, 17 January.

Expert: Zhdanok’s decision to leave EP was carefully calculated to revive Latvian Russians Union

The decision made by member of the European Parliament (EP) and leader of Latvian Russians Union (LRU) Tatyana Zhdanok, in accordance with which she intends to leave the European Parliament to instead focus on LRU’s election campaign, was a carefully calculated step to reanimate the party, said dean of Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Latvia Juris Rozenvalds.

Maxima Latvia expects price decline up to 15% in 2018

Following Maxima Latvija’s decision to reduce prices for nearly 1,000 important goods, it is expected that a similar step will be made by other players in the industry. This could mean prices for everyday goods could decline by up to 15%, as BNN was informed by the company.

Latvia’s economy reaches highest peak since 2015

Residents’ mood has improved for most positions of the study. Residents were positive the most about ongoing changes for Latvia’s economy, the value of which has reached its peak since July 2015. In spite of optimistic changes, however, 30% of respondents are critical about ongoing economic changes in Latvia, according to results of the latest Baltic International Bank’s Latvian Barometer.

Riga exchange hopes for new securities issuers this year

There are hopes to see new Latvian businesses release shares on the stock market this year, says chairperson of Nasdaq Riga Daiga Auziņa-Melalksne.

Latvian universities to offer students an innovative grant system

To help develop students’ innovative and business abilities, Latvian Education and Science Ministry has developed a new student grant system, which will focus mainly on supporting innovative projects and research and further improve cooperation between universities and leading businesses to attract human resources, the ministry reports.

Russian sociologists fear closure, quit publishing election polls

Russian leading independent polling organisation Levada Center has stated it has quit releasing results of polls on the country’s spring presidential election citing concern that the authorities could close it down for what they see as meddling in politics.

Court maintains pledge on former LAR leader’s bank accounts and owned property

Court has applied pledge status on property and bank accounts owned by Riga City Council member Mārtiņš Bondars to enforce EUR 15 million from him as part of Latvijas Krajbanka criminal case, as reported by TV3 News.

McDonald’s to use unrecycled packaging for 7 more years

World’s largest catering chain McDonalds has set the aim of ensuring that by 2025 all its packaging would be from either from recycled or renewable materials, which would be an increase current proportion of a half.

Saeima speaker: Judicial Affairs Council’s work should be more apparent

Work performed by the Judicial Affairs Council should be made more apparent, said Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece during her meeting with Supreme Court chairman Ivars Bičkovičs.

Mass protests in Greece do not hold back new bailout reforms

The parliament of Greece has adopted a large set of reforms pushed for by international creditors in return for more bailout money, despite approximately 20 000 people protesting outside the parliament and brief clashes with riot police breaking out.

Foster families in Latvia to receive larger benefits

Municipal administrations have a duty to pay larger benefits for child care when children are put in foster families, Latvian Welfare Ministry reports.

Government plans to improve anti-doping measures in Latvia

During a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, a legislative draft developed by Healthcare Ministry on adding changes to the Sports Law for the improvement the country’s anti-doping measures was approved.

Only 12% of workers know their organization’s IT security policy

Businesses around the world still suffer from a catastrophically low level of awareness for IT matters, according to a study performed by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International.

Parents let children on ice in spite of temporary restriction

On Sunday, 14 January, officers of Riga Municipal Police observed with video-recording equipment how two people were skating on the surface of Victory Park’s pond. Because it is banned for people to remain on ice of large bodies of water in Riga, officers were sent in.

Czech President to be determined in duel between Zeman and Drahoš

In the Czech presidential election, no candidate has garnered a half of the votes and its result will be determined in a run-off between the current eursceptic President and a pro-European academic.

Aldaris: non-alcoholic beer market in Latvia grew 9% in 2017

Aldaris concluded 2017 with a significant increase in their non-alcoholic beer category of products. Demand for non-alcoholic beer has increased across all of Latvia – market growth was 9% in 2017, as reported by the company’s representatives.

Politician reports meddling with e-health system; prime minister parries

Last Thursday, 11 January, e-health system ‘suffered malfunctions’, which suggests that it may have been hacked, Saeima’s Social and Employment Matters Committee head Aija Barča mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Pension fund cautious about 500-million-euro bridge project to Saaremaa

Commenting on the idea that Estonian pension funds could invest into the ambitious project of building a bridge from mainland Estonia to the country’s largest island, Swedish Swedbank has expressed caution.

Study: more than half of Latvians do not trust other people

52% of Latvian residents believe most people cannot be trusted. Only 5% of residents are ready to trust their fellow man. Less than one-fifth of Latvian residents trust decision-makers, according to results of a study performed by SKDS.

Economic expert: 2018 expected to be good for investors

«This year promises to be good for investors, because global economy is on a rise and profits of businesses have a tendency to grow,» says Luminor economic expert Gints Belēvičs.

Estonia counts more residents for 3rd consecutive year

Registering an increase in the Estonian population for the third consecutive year, Estonian statisticians have estimated that the population has increased by 3,070 people to 1,318,700 residents. They have also warned that this is preliminary data, which could still change considerably as unregistered immigration has not been included.

Russian school struck by teenager knife attack

In a knife attack on a school in Perm, Russia, eleven children and a teacher have suffered injuries.

NA: city council has to consider new partnership approach for Agenskalns market

Riga City Council members have to decide what is more important for Agenskalns market’s development: rate or quality. There are two options: force a closed market development with an auction of long-term lease or consider public private partnership option. Such a proposal was submitted to Riga City Council’s City Property Committee by the faction of the National Alliance.

Romania Prime Minister changed, second since June

Romanian head of government Mihai Tudose has lost the support of his own Social Democratic Party becoming the second Romanian Prime Minister to lose the seat in seven months.

Would you be ready to boycott something in your life?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Polls Archive

Category feed: Feed: