Judge Aija Ornina, a suspect in a criminal case, has said that the loud arrests and other operative actions performed recently by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau could be related to the book of memoirs written by the arrested businessman Julijs Krumins.
Pietiek portal has gotten its hands on a manuscript of one of the book’s chapters. The portal has published a fragment of this manuscript, shortening some of its larger segments.
«Developing Latvia for the future, we cannot avoid analysing the 25th year of independence. The mistakes that have been made and reasons why we remain at the end of EU’s developed countries. After all, I was close to some of the leading political workers of that time. I watched as gradually the minds of majority of those people, who were not educated politicians – actors, doctors, musicians, bartenders, zoo workers and people with big debts, people easily bought – were taken over by the lust for wealthy life, not Latvia’s welfare.
Most people in politics should be lawyers, economists and financiers. I believe this country’s biggest tragedy of the past 25 years was that two specific organized crime groups became active. These groups did not consist of bandits, extorters. Instead, those people were our neighbours, who then became legal state thieves. They formed two crime groups. They are the ones in power in Latvia now. Andris and Aivars coming together resulted in rule over the country. I would not have written this portion of the book, but because of those two criminal groups I was forced to sell my businesses and immigrate to Australia for two years. Andris’ criminal group was formed in Valmiera and Aivars’ criminal group was formed in Ventspils.
My first run in with Andris happened when he became prime minister. Before Andris came to power, I took part in all procurements to supply fuel to Latvia’s companies: Latvijas Dzelzceļš (80,000 tons a year), Bus Park (N tons a year), ferries and Latvia’s army – 500 tons a year. I took part in procurements, I had a good position back then – my terminal was located in Riga and I could offer the lowest prices.
When Andris became prime minister and I won in the procurement, I was contacted by the defence minister. He confirmed that I had won, but added that it happened with difficulties. At first I could not understand what those difficulties he spoke of were. The army’s 500 tons did not change much for me. I could have refused, but only on the next day, when I was contacted by the interior minister, who had just returned from having lunch with the prime minister.
The minister told me that I should prepare for prison. It is during that lunch that Andris requested Krumins to be put in prison, to which the minister responded: I have much more interesting information about his [Andris] questionable activities. You could, he said, end up sharing a cell. It turned out Andris owned nearly all capital shares in Northern Oil. Coincidentally, that company had taken part in the same procurement and had hoped to win. Thank god the minister was my friend. He is the bravest and most honest person I’ve known. He could afford to say no to Andris. He was an honest man, my friend.
In 1998, I, Man-Tess company, had confirmed projects with all structures of Riga Freeport and Riga City Council for the construction of a terminal on Kundzinsala. To reduce air pollution on Tvaika Street, I had decided to have all ships lead at Daugava, build a trestle and load up wagons outside and build a reservoir park – all to reduce air pollution on Tvaika Street. In 1998, all projects were coordinated and divided into two parts. In the first part, I was permitted to build a 250 m long dock and 2 km long pipeline system that stretched from Tvaiku Street terminal all the way to Kundzinsala dock. In addition, there was a request for me to coordinate environmental assessment, which took me one year and cost LVL 100,000. While the projects were being built, we commenced the environmental assessment, which turned out positive. At the beginning of 2000, all that was left was for me to approve the last project, which had been coordinated in advance. An agreement was achieved with Leonid Loginov and Mayor of Riga Gundars Bojars. We also had all the permits we needed from firefighters, the State Administration and other institutions.
Three days before the vote Loginov contacted me and told the vote could turn out negative. He asked to me meet with him. At this meeting I learned that E, then the […] of Riga City Council’s Development, had asked Loginov to collect from me a USD 2 million bribe if I wanted to build a terminal on Kundzinsala. Loginov advised me to speak with Beard, who was then known as Andris, because E was only a cashier. I immediately contacted my old school friend Juris Savickis – president of Itera – and we met. His companion, Ainars Gulbis, took part in our conversation. I asked them for help. I asked them to speak with Andris and tell him I would pay those USD 2 million once the terminal is ready and I begin transshipping oil products. I already had the amount I needed to build the terminal. Jurs and Ainars told me: best to pay now, we know Andris. But I could not go against my principles. I live by them, I am no fool.
Another episode. I never thought I’d ever entrust a wolf to guard the sheep. But that’s exactly what happened. E was made finance minister. He had Finance Police and Customs under his command. Without a doubt, E was a lap dog for his master. These episodes are told from my perspective.
One case was related to SRS building. I talked to investigators and victims. I have noticed something peculiar after talking to them: a person bought around 35 ha of land for more than USD 300,000 and sold the land to a Russian billionaire. A 500,000 bribe was mentioned in the case. It was given by Janita to Peteris Strancis and Vilnis Strams. Those two then forwarded it to Edmunds. The deal went down this was: USD 25,000 for Strancis, USD 25,000 for Strams, USD 45,000 for Edmunds and USD 5,000 for Janita. The remaining USD 400,000 was given to Andris. When KNAB arrested Janita, Strams and Strancis, Janita spilled the beans. A search was performed at Edmunds’. Authorities found USD 45,000 in his safe. This money was allegedly paid to him for a tractor he never had. He quickly wrote his resignation and disappeared from his profitable post. He could have ended up in prison. Unfortunately, only small fries ended up there. Andris’ handwriting is all over it – sacrifice a small fish to ensure he and his ilk remain in power.
Without a doubt, the biggest harvest began for Andris’ group when Andris Grutups, another one of his top dogs, sued his colleague Kokalis. This made Andris and Aivars closer. Later on they were joined by Ainars. The three of them started harvesting what was never harvested before. Oh the things they had done! They created nothing of value! They used Latvia to become richer and make the people poorer. What have they built for Latvia? Absolutely nothing!
Aivars… How they would call him – Napoleon, Hutt, Duke or whatever. In my eyes, he’s nothing more than a bandit. A bandit and a former secretary of the Communist Party who carved himself a seat as Mayor of Ventspils – the gold vein of Latvia’s transit business. Oil, potassium salt and other cargoes were transshipped there. Ventspils had good relations with Russia, and he managed to lose everything in these 25 years. First he lost oil, then – potassium. Now Russia intends to stop sending oil products there. If we look at Mat-Tess in comparison to Ventspils, Man-Tess was a terminal capable of holding 100,000 tons of oil. Its annual volume of transshipped oil was 1.5 million tons. Ventspils has a 1 million ton reservoir park and its annual volume was 150 million tons. Ventspils also has one other advantage – Ventspils and Russia jointly own LatRosTrans. This company owns a piece of land stretching from the Russian border all the way to Ventspils. A pipeline for oil and light oil products sits on that land.
Perhaps, had this man been slightly taller and had slightly more far-sight, I am 99% confident Russia would not have decided to develop its own port in St Petersburg and would have instead sent three more pipelines through our territory. Perhaps NordStream would have gone from Russia to Germany and Europe through Ventspils. Maybe then he would have become Duke and maybe then his money – vents – would have been worth something. When we sat down behind one table, Indriksons Guntis, myself and Juris Sabasvs told him – we sell 33% to Russians because they have products. Sabasovs even proposed gifting Russians Ventspils Nafta under the condition that for every one ton of transshipped product they pay the company USD 1. But a man who is used to crawling cannot fly!
The biggest tragedy is that making someone as rich as he is [the richest man in the country] would require pushing the rest of the residents to the brink of poverty. I agree with Vilis Kristopans’ statement 100%. He said we live in a land of fools, considering Lembergs holds the highest popularity rating in Latvia. Maybe he bought it, though.
None of the law enforcement institutions dare to come near him. Maizitis’ case proved it. Eriks Kalnmeiers intends to be reelected. All publicly interviewed people said they would vote for Maizitis, but this was not reflected in reality. All of this demonstrates what the Saeima truly is. They all loudly declare their intention to vote for one, but it is Aivars’ money that has the deciding vote.
When the vote came down to dismiss the Saeima, because the people were fed up with AAA and their money-grabbing habits, Zatlers was not prepared as Karlins Ulmanis had been. Zatlers lacked the team Ulmanis had to take over the government. They most likely had no time or knowledge to picture Latvia’s perspectives. AAA had the money and a magnitude of arms to pull all processes and institutions in the ‘right’ direction.
Education-wise Andris is a graduate of the agriculture university. Instead of thinking of agriculture, he decided to grab everything […] Lembergs has agents in all political parties. He knows he cannot afford to sponsor entire parties. Individuals, on the other hand, can be financed. Urbanovics Janis from Harmony is an old friend of his. We fought over cotton in Uzbekistan. It is thanks to Ulmanis and Kristopans that the cotton was won by me, not Ventspils. The same applies with the privatization of Ventspils Nafta. Thanks to Lembergs, Gundars Krasts became Prime Minsiter. His objective was to sign the last privatization document. Once it was done, he was thrown out like a used condom.
We don’t have oil, gas or gold here in Latvia. Our treasures are trees and hard-working people. Our biggest treasure is our geographical location. Instead of improving the situation in Latvia, our ruling politicians find it easier to raise taxes to balance the budget. They would rather do everything in their power to avoid paying teachers, doctors, pensioners and police officers. The first course of action should be sorting out SRS. We need an honest person that would coordinate the influx of finances to the state treasury. I want to believe there are many people like that in Latvia. We cannot allow them to look for an obedient puppet. It is no surprise that Lembergs supports Strelchenok in KNAB.
We have the biggest and best ports when compared to our neighbours – Lithuania and Estonia. What we lack is a president for the transit association. Instead we have Lembergs. But he competes with Riga and Liepaja, not Lithuania and Estonia.
How long will those people remain in power in Latvia? I don’t know. I am not one to judge them. But they are the ones using their puppets in government to do as they please, creating a business environment that chokes other businessmen. Thanks to them all of my projects proposed throughout 2000-2008 were rejected. I, left with no way to develop business and create jobs, was forced to sell my business and leave. I know businessmen who have been humiliated and have failed to develop their businesses. If they wanted to develop their dreams, they had to part with 30-60% of their capital shares. For how long will this continue?!»