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«Incorruptible Sudraba», «toothless oligarchs case» report, or «no treatment with cancer as diagnosis»

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Thursday, 25 January, Saeima went through the final report of the parliamentary investigative committee. With that, the committee has fulfilled its objective.

After listening to the committee’s report, members of the parliament held sharply-worded debates on this matter. Corruption in Latvia is in «full bloom», a lot is dictated by groups of people competing with one another to ensure their economic interests, said chairperson of Saeima’s Oligarchs Case Investigative Committee Inguna Sudraba.

The politician said that Latvia has a «full-cycle system» that defends its own. This system functions specifically to help people realize their interests. She said that the media are used to create an illusion that everything is fine with democracy and blow smoke in people’s eyes to distract them from actually important matters.

Part of the discussion was dedicated towards the attitude directed at her personally. Sudraba mentioned that in this system «one gear protects other gears». The system also protects itself from Sudraba, because, according to her, it is impossible to «force, blackmail or buy» her. As for so-called oligarchs talks, the politician rhetorically asked if it is necessary to suspect everyone mentioned there.

During debates, members of the Saeima criticized Sudraba for the committee’s poor quality of work, saying that meetings were more akin to a circus than a serious investigation. Parliamentarian Andrejs Judins mentioned that the reason why Sudraba was made chairperson of the committee because there was no way to prevent the formation of the committee, and instead it was necessary to make sure its efforts bring no results.

«The report is a toothless, empty document. It has no content – only empty generalizations,» said Judins, emphasizing that assessment of state capture signs was not a priority for Sudraba and her associates.

Judins believes not only did work of the committee result in a poor report, it also discredited the entire parliamentary investigation. «Sudraba should take responsibility for the poor work,» said Judins. «State capture is not just an economic concept, it exist in real life. There are deputies in the Saeima who serve oligarchs, which is just pathetic,» said the deputy.

Hosams Abu Meri, head of Unity’s Saeima committee, compared the report of the committee to a poor health check-up. He emphasized that there is «no conclusion and no prescribed treatment, but the diagnosis is cancer». The politician said influence of oligarchs in Latvia is an illness – cancer with three heads, which needs to be surgically removed, but no one is doing anything. He says it only serves to demonstrate the extent of influence those people have.

Edvards Smiltens, member of Latvian Association of Regions, said that full publication of Oligarchs talks would have benefited the country much more. People would have found it interesting to read about how a small group of influential people discuss the Credit Institutions Law, and the regulation left out of Healthcare Financing Law that provided for diverting finances to state and municipal healthcare institutions, not private ones. People would have liked to hear the discussion between Aivars Lembergs and Transport Minister Uldis Augulis after the arrest of LDz Logistics chief Verners Lūsis in Lithuania, the politician said.

Smiltēns expressed his shock about Sudraba’s influence over certain votes in the Saeima, because «voting equipment broke down and deputies disappeared from the hall». He said this in regards to the failed vote to dismiss Sudraba as the head of the committee.

Representative of the National Alliance Ritvars Jansons mentioned that society expected clear answers from the committee.

«Unfortunately, the final report does not provide any worthwhile answers. Members of the parliamentary committee did not find condemnation of activities detailed in the criminal case to be a particularly important issue. The National Alliance believes intentions and actions that have signs of state capture, as detailed in the criminal process,» said Jansons.

Publication of transcripts of so-called oligarch talks by Ir magazine created a powerful emotional resonance, said deputy Igros Pimenovs on behalf of Harmony. However, an emotional response is not enough to submit the case to court – evidence is needed. He said that the committee failed to authenticate published materials.

Pimenovs also mentioned that the coalition council is not a legitimate institution, considering that it is not detailed in any state regulation. At the same time, its role is very important. This is why signs of state capture are observed in relation to its influence, said the deputy.

Valdis Kalnozols mentioned in this speech that state capture was already present the moment the process of restoration of Latvia’s independence started. The awakening scenario formed in corridors of the Soviet Union’s KGB. A network of KGB agents controlled events of the awakening, as well as Latvia’s joining of the European Union and NATO. Kalnozols mentioned state financed political parties as a possible solution.

It is mentioned in the committee’s report that there are signs of state capture noticed in oligarch talks, because in regards to certain topics participants of those talks mentioned activities that could mean a proposal for using state power as a tool to acquire personal gain. For example, the committee concluded that the talks point towards influence on approval and dismissal processes of state officials, which not only puts at risk society’s interests but can also create significant risks for division of power detailed in the Constitution of Latvia.

At the same time, the committee did not even mention any specific names in its final report. It is mentioned in the report that the criminal process was ended because the pre-court investigation did not find or prove criminal acts. Because of that, all of the people involved in the criminal process are considered not guilty purely from a judicial standpoint.

«Because materials of the criminal process are considered classified information, the committee refrains from public discussions and accusations. Otherwise conclusions of the committee could be perceived as violation of the presumption of innocence,» as mentioned in the report.

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