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Tuesday 20.02.2018 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

Opinion: in search of threats to Latvia's national security

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Following the rise in tension in Ukraine after the resolution with Crimea, many Latvian politicians hastily provide their voters controversial statements. Some support the situation in Crimea, most condemn it. There are also politicians that try to provoke society, take part in controversial events and present propaganda of both opinions on this matter, according to deputy of Ventspils City Council Aivis Landmanis.

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU‘There is no doubt – aggression should be condemned. But why do politicians remain silent when we attempt to discuss the causes of this situation? I am certain – the causes of this situation lie in corruption of all government levels, which degraded Ukraine and ultimately cost the country some of its territories. Is Latvia all that different? Unfortunately, no, it is not. Like in Ukraine, corruption has infiltrated all government management levels in Latvia,’ – he says.

He notes that some of Latvian political decision makers also often take part in questionable monetary transactions and act as though they are blind and deaf when someone raises the topic of cleaning up corruption in the government and getting rid of those who misappropriate state funds and steal resources from the country.

A politician of Russia’s opposition – Vladimir Kara-Murza – describes Russia’s political system the following way: ‘All types of mafia organizations are structured similarly – the ”boss” is always ahead of everyone else. Members of this system are allowed to steal, carry money over the border and do anything they want as long as they provide political loyalty to the regime and Putin personally. This provides political loyalty for all members of the regime.’

Commenting this statement, Lanmanis notes: ‘Similarly to Russia, Ukraine had a boss of its own – Yanukovich. Latvia has multiple bosses – local oligarchs. The influence of one of them reaches to all levels of government. This man is, of course, the criminally accused Aivars Lembergs, who is the sole reason why the country is unable to stop systematic extravagance (including in freeports), introduce better management of municipalities, their subsidiaries and owned companies and put an end to his illegal activities, which includes influence over the minds of the population and indirect pressure on judges and witnesses involved in the criminal case against him.’

Who and why wants to paralyse the introduction of the good management principle in freeports and prevention of money squandering?

Landmanis notes that the current Saeima and previous government coalition share on specific priority – improvement of management of Latvia’s sea ports. ‘Unfortunately, reforms aimed at putting an end to money squandering and pressure on investors in freeports were uncomfortable for all political parties present in the government – For Latvia and Ventspils, Union of Greens and Farmers, Unity, National Alliance, Harmony Centre, Honour to Serve Riga and Liepaja’s Party.’ According to him, the current coalition, PM Laimdota Straujuma and Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss at the helm, is doing everything it can to stop the initiated reforms.

‘What I mean is on February 26th, 2014, the Latvian ports, Transit and Logistics Council supported Transport Ministry’s proposed initiative that provides for having 90% of port dues in the State Treasury be returned back to ports. The argument that was used in favour of this was the following – it is necessary to divert revenue generated by ports to the development of Latvia’s ports. Very well, but tell me, ladies and gentlemen – why isn’t this argument applied to all port costs? Why aren’t the Cabinet of Ministers. Transport Ministry and the Latvian ports, Transit and Logistics Council concerned about Ventspils Freeport Board, which is already used to diverting millions every year to port unrelated things?

Do our politicians truly believe expenses listed in Ventspils Freeport Board’s budget for 2014, including advertisements using sports organizations (approximately EUR 1 million), marketing using associations and agencies (approximately EUR 447,000) and other expenses that are clearly unrelated to actual port activities are meant to improve port infrastructure and development? Is it really necessary to remind supervisory authorities about the regulation stated in the Law on Ports regarding the use of port finances only on port infrastructure and development needs?

As usual, our politicians act blind and deaf. This is quite expected. Who would go up against ‘the boss’? It is best to silently agree and take the much needed money from pensioners, teachers and police officers,’ – says Landmanis.

Why has it not been possible to introduce good management principles in Boards of state and municipal enterprises?

‘The structure of Latvia’s political environment is made in a way that allows only political fanatics, altruists or political mafia supporters to be able to work there. It should be said, however, that the latter represent the majority in Latvia’s case. The political tone in Latvia is dictated by political mafia. The goal of this organization is to live at the expense of our residents. This mafia benefits from a weak and deeply corrupted state government. This is why it does all it can to make sure that normal, educated and respected people cannot take part in politics.’

One of the instruments used to achieve this is low level of remuneration and bad publicity for unlikable individuals. This means that if a person wants to get into politics, he or she should keep in mind one simple rule – if you are honest and fair, you will likely starve. If you want more, join the robbers of the state, says Landmanis.

‘Unfortunately, this applies not just to a couple of dishonest politicians. Our country has been taken over by robbers, their supporters and the indifferent. In order to realize their schemes, they willingly interfere with the state, municipalities’ and their subsidiaries’ attempts to introduce good and democratic management principles. They act as though they do not see authoritarian management regimes, they do not care about sorting out state enterprises and Freeport managements, because that would result in no room for “their” people. You might say “NOT TRUE”, but explain then why the Cabinet of Ministers, Riga, Ventspils and Liepaja city councils protest against making Freeport activities transparent and thereby prevent misappropriation of funds and other illegal activities? Why can’t the Saeima approve amendments to the Capital Enterprises Law to limit the approval of political representatives in management Boards? Why can’t the sort out the Law on Municipalities and prevent political lawlessness? Why do we continue to entrust the organization of municipal elections to municipal politicians in power? Most importantly – why does the state allow criminally accused individuals remain in posts in the government, municipalities and state enterprises?’

Landmanis reminds – when then the minister Edmunds Sprūdžs tried to dismiss still the criminally accused Mayor of Ventspils, Latvia’s highest ranking officials – Andris Bērziņš, Valdis Dombrovskis and Solvita Āboltiņa – turned away from Sprūdžs.

‘It seems that there are no political parties in Latvia that would defend the interests of the people. Those who attempt to “rebel” against the ruling mafia are immediately put down by the political mafia clan. In Ukraine’s case, however, this resulted in the loss of many lives and territories. Our politicians teach others, but they also seem to forget how they terrorize their own people. They seem indifferent even about the annual report of the U.S. Department of State, where it is stated that corruption in all levels of state government is considered the biggest problem for human rights in Latvia. Last year’s survey results clearly demonstrate that the population of Latvia does not believe the government does anything to reduce corruption. But the political mafia does not care,’ – says the Ventspils deputy.

He adds that if this situation persists, there will be nothing stopping any aggressor who decides to attack Latvia’s sovereignty. A country is only as strong as the solidity of its population.

‘Unfortunately, most of our politicians serve their bosses, not the people. This is why I believe only when politicians start actually combating corruption and start managing the country in accordance with principles of good management, Latvia will be able to increase its level of welfare and strengthen its population’s loyalty to a country, which are the main conditions for the preservation of a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ – says Landmanis.

‘It will not be enough to increase the defence budget by simply condemning Russia. Stop supporting mafia bosses and their corruptive system,’ – Landmanis says to Latvia’s politicians.

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