Latviski English По-русски
Saturday 23.06.2018 | Name days: Līga

Lembergs hunts Reform Party

(+2 rating, 2 votes)

Latest developments in the political life of Latvia give an impression that someone is desperately trying to get rid of the Reform Party (RP). Both Latvian Association of Large Cities (LALC) and the Latvian Student Union have been sharply criticizing RP ministers. But taking a closer look, it appears that someone is orchestrating all the parade. And yet again all roads lead to the same person – Aivars Lembergs, an accused politician and Ventspils Mayor.

It looks like the LALC is highly dissatisfied with the performance of Edmunds Sprudzs, Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister. Let’s take a closer look once again. It turns out the Chairman of the association is Maris Kucinskis – a passionate member of the Greens and Farmers Union (GFU), which has always been associated with Lembergs. He is also a former member of the People’s Party.

LALC raises concern over the reforms initiated by Sprudzs, namely, they fear the changes will not be rational enough and hinder development of municipalities. Local mayors are anxious over the fact Sprudzs has come up with Regional Development Guidelines 2014-2020 and handed them over to the Cabinet of Ministers. Therefore, they have sent an official letter, proposing another plan – a vague description of how all efforts should focus on balanced development of all cities. What effort exactly they have in mind remains a secret, so it seems that local mayors are merely urging to do nothing.

Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs has also signed the letter, but, interestingly enough, as Rezekne Mayor.

Anyway, it appears that there are no disagreements within the LALC, as all its members come from one and the same family – Greens and Farmers Union (GFU), Harmony Center and the fading Latvia’s First Party/Latvian Way (LFP/LW).

The letter was also signed by Daugavpils Mayor Zanna Kulakova (former member of LFP/LW) and Jelgava Mayor Andris Ravins, who is a very “attentive customer” of Swedbank. It was him who helped trigger panic over Swedbank collapse with his decision to transfer over 134 000 lats of the municipality’s funds to the State Treasury. Four months later, his financial transactions put him into the spotlight once again. Ravins managed to get hold of his employee car – 12 000 lats worth Volvo S80 – for half the price.

Also long standing always well tanned Liepaja Mayor Uldis Sesks (from Liepaja Party) criticizes Sprudzs’ work. And so does Aleksandrs Bartasevics, Rezekne Mayor (the real one, not Usakovs), who just recently (on August 28) told his local portal that Sprudzs was one of the best ministers ever. He seems to have changed his mind in the blink of an eye.

Those saying a strict “no” to the reforms also include Inesis Bokis, long-running member of the People’s Party and Valmiera Mayor, as well as Didzis Osenieks , Ventspils Deputy Mayor and member of Lembergs’ party For Latvia and Ventspils.

Experts have already previously pointed out that the fuss around Sprudzs’ reforms must be growing out from somewhere. One of them – Girts Kronbergs once aptly told Rietumu Radio that sensible people see perfectly well – Sprudzs’ reforms have crossed some deep-rooted political and economic interests. Kronbergs is the head of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s branch in Liepaja and board member of Freeport of Ventspils.

He reminded that there is only half a year left until municipal elections and local mayors use the protest as part of their election campaign.

“Looking at the parties that the reform-opponents represent, we clearly see why they raise objections,” he added.

It should be noted that Sprudzs is not the only RP minister currently under fire. Roberts Kilis, Education and Science Minister, has not escaped harsh remarks as well. Latvian Rectors’ Council is scolding him for unprofessional and chaotic management of the sector.

According to the Riga Technical University (RTU) rector, Leonids Ribickis, Kilis has failed the confidence vote of many Latvian rectors, who are now taking this desperate step. Although Ribickis does believe that the letter reflects the current situation in the sector of higher education in Latvia, he particularly highlights the fact that he did not participate in the vote. He says he was on a business trip. Also Marcis Auzins, rector of the University of Latvia, is said to have left the long meeting early.

Edvards Ratnieks, President of the Latvian Student Union, seems to be especially angry with Kilis. Could it be because his mother – Dace Ratniece – is a member of the Greens/Farmers? She also works at Ministry of Education and Science, serving as the head of the Policy Coordination Department.

“Unfortunately, over the past two and a half years since Edvards Ratnieks is in charge of the Latvian Student Union, it has become a full-time group of people, constantly criticizing ministers,” says Armands Leimanis, President of Student Association of Riga Graduate School of Law.

We cannot claim that it is Ratnieks’ mother or “uncle” Lembergs, who are forbidding him to embark on a constructive dialogue with the Education Minister. But what we know for sure is – he has let down the Student Association of Riga Graduate School of Law, which is quitting the Latvian Student Union.

Ratnieks appears to have despised Reform Party all along. He once approached Neatkariga Rita Avize (a daily traditionally associated with Lembergs) with a thriller-like story, where he claimed that the Soros Fund had offered him huge money to promote the new political force.

To sum up, the Reform Party indeed seems to have crossed some serious interests of those not willing to agree to any changes. After all – why should they? They are pretty happy with their long-term influential posts and super-expensive employee cars. Luckily, Reform Party ministers retain a healthy sense of humor. Just recently Education Minister wrote on his Twitter account that Edmunds Sprudzs had texted him – “Welcome to the club”.


Leave a reply

SRS uncovers numerous violations more than half of inspected companies

State Revenue Service’s Tax Control Office performed a total of 305 thematic inspections of employers in Latvia in Q1 2018. Authorities recorded violations in 171 inspections, according to information from SRS.

Third level pension plan deposit volumes reach new record value

Residents’ interest for pension savings remains high. The volume of deposits made to private pension funds in the first three months of 2018 has reached a new historic peak: a total of EUR 16.5 million has been paid to 3rd level pension accounts, which is 11.6% more when compared to the same period of 2017, as reported by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Petrol station network in Latvia caught performing fraudulent activities with diesel fuel

State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Police have uncovered and put an end to a fraudulent scheme with diesel fuel performed by some network of petrol stations in Latvia, as confirmed by the service.

Kaimiņš: I believe CPCB is performing a political order

In the evening of Thursday, 21 June, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau released three people previously detained as part of a criminal process regarding possible illegal funding of KPV LV party – Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš, his colleague Atis Zakatistovs, and businessman Viesturs Tamužs.

Latvia’s parliament conceptually supports new sanction regulations

On Thursday, 21 June, Saeima supported in the final reading amendments to the Law on International Sanctions and National Sanctions of the Republic of Latvia that are meant to improve sanction regime regulations to ensure efficient application of national and international sanctions, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Storm in Tallinn floods streets, cuts Croatia-Argentina match short on TV

A rain storm has hit northern Estonia on Thursday, flooding some streets in the capital Tallinn, damaged buildings and badly affected the broadcast of an interesting World Cup game.

American banks tested for financial stress show positive results

The U.S. has performed banking stress tests and found that the 35 largest banks operating in the country have enough funds on hand to sail safely through a severe financial crisis.

Saeima fires judge for coming to work in a drunken state

On Thursday, 21 June, Latvia’s parliament supported the proposal to dismiss Rezekne Court judge Arvis Garais from his post. 71 deputies voted in favour, no one abstained and no one voted against.

UK to have three requirements to EU citizens willing to remain in UK

For citizens of the European Union willing to continue living in the UK after the country leaves the bloc, they will have to submit applications and answer three key questions over the internet, according to the country's interior minister.

Weather in Latvia to be rainy and cool during Ligo; next week’s weather to be dry and hot

Weather at the end of the week in Latvia will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that, there will be instances of rain on Ligo. Weather is expected to improve next week, however, according to Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s blood plasma corruption scandal extends to Latvia

The former head of Lithuania‘s National Blood Centre, suspected of corruption and involvement in unlicenced activity, received more bad news this week from Latvia, where investigators of the Lithuanian Special Investigation Service had questioned the Latvian Health minister, Anda Čakša.

Administrative burden to be reduced for foreign students and researchers

The administrative burden will be reduced for foreign students and researchers, as well as all education and research institutions hosting them. This is provided by the amendments to the Immigration Law approved by the Saeima in the third reading on Thursday, 21 June.

Latvian Economy Minister endures no-confidence vote

Saeima declined opposition deputies’ request for dismissal of Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Swedbank economist becomes new member of Bank of Latvia Council

On Thursday, 21 June, Latvia’s Saeima approved Mārtiņš Kazāks in his new post as member of Bank of Latvia Council, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Pope Francis’ visit to Latvia will be a national holiday

Latvia’s parliament has approved in the final reading a law that makes 24 September – the day Pope Francis plans to visit Latvia – a national holiday.

ICT specialist numbers in Latvia are below Europe’s average level

In Latvia, information and communication technology specialists form only 2.2% of all employed people in the country, which is considerably below the average level in the European Union – 3.7%. Romania and Greece are the only two EU member states in which the number of ICT specialists is below Latvia’s, according to European Commission’s DESI index.

Hungary adopts prison sentence for helping migrants

Hungarian National Assembly has passed a set of laws criminalising with prison terms some help provided to illegal immigrants by non-governmental organisations.

Harmony plans turning to Constitutional Court to prevent transition to Latvian language in schools

«Why should this reform stay unrealized? It is because schools are not prepared for cardinal changes coming from dozens of other reforms that have already shocked the country’s entire general education system,» says chairman of National Minority School Parents Forum and member of Harmony’s work group in Konstantīns Čekušins.

Deputies detained in KPV LV criminal case not declared suspects yet

Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš and businessman Viesturs Tamužs detained in the criminal process regarding possibly illegal funding of KPV LV party have not yet been declared suspects. Both are currently in police custody. It is likely Kaimiņš will be released later today, 21 June.

Production of mines and grenades planned in Estonia

As the Estonian parliament has adopted new rules on military arms and ammunition production in the country, local defence firm Eesti Arsenal has voiced its plan to build a factory in Estonia to make military explosives.

Total tax debts in Latvia reached EUR 1.224 billion in June

At the beginning of June, total tax debts in Latvia, including topical, halted debts and extended repayment terms were equal to EUR 1.233 billion, which is 0.6% less compared to May, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Switch off internet nationwide during exams – Algerian approach

In an attempt to prevent cheating during secondary school exams, the north African nation Algeria, has turned off internet in its whole territory.

Control Service proposes kicking out shell companies as intensely as offshore companies

Shell companies in Latvia should be combated with the same intensity once shown to offshore companies, says chief of Anti-Money Laundering Service Ilze Znotiņa.

EU imposes tariffs on blue jeans, motorcycles and other U.S. export goods

The European Union will introduce retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports on Friday, EU Trade Commissioner has stated a top official has stated in the bloc's reaction to Washington imposing steep duties on steel and aluminium earlier in June.

Latvia’s Saeima proposes improving job-combining rules for state officials

On Wednesday, 20 June, Latvian parliament’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee decided to submit for review amendments to the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials.

Newest comments