‘2014 is the year of elections for Latvia and European Parliament. Latvia’s pre-election scene often offers a wide variety of absurd and populist political groups. Oligarchs also often come to visit,’ – writes journalist and media researcher Sandra Veinberga on TVNET portal.
She believes the age of ‘political living dead’ continues in Latvia, because money is often a more effective persuasion tool than actual innovative ideas.
‘With the motto “money instead of ideas” Latvian oligarchs continue to ram Latvia’s political Olympus using all kinds of different methods.’
Veinberga notes that the pressure of oligarchs on political processes in Latvia was ended by the now ex-president of Latvia Valdis Zatlers in 2011. He was the one who proposed the dissolution of the ‘oligarch parliament’ and restored society’s hope for there to be positive changes.
‘The people supported Zatlers’ initiative. This forced the “oligarch parliament” to step down. However, as the oligarchs left, they played their final card: they elected a publicly unknown Latvian oligarch, former banker and wealthy pensioner Andris Bērziņš as the next President of Latvia. This final act of revenge lit the fuse,’ – she writes.
She believes when rescuers carried the bodies of the people who died under the debris of Maxima supermarket in Zolitude, Latvia’s largest metallurgical company Liepājas metalurg went bankrupt and most of Latvia’s residents started to question the safety of newly built buildings, stadiums and other public buildings in Latvia, oligarchs’ ace in the hole – President Andris Bērziņš – theatrically announced a request for Lembergs’ party to return to the government.
‘In order to distract everyone from the actual situation, he chose someone from the side – Laimdota Straujuma – to take charge in the government formation process. She had only just joined Unity, and it is to secret to anyone that Aivars Lembergs himself was also openly involved in the government formation talks. Therefore, the person who is charged with serious crimes (a kind of person who would never be allowed to take even the lowest of posts in a normal country) is back in the game,’ – writes Veinberga.
‘He believes himself above the law. His extreme image forging methods (court marathon, using media channels, making Ventspils City Council his personal PR office, etc) show the skills he learned during the Soviet era and his current views on things – 20 years after the restoration of independence,’ – she adds.
The journalist emphasizes that one of the main skills Lembergs learned during the Soviet times was the skill to manipulate and the skill to cultivate his own image of a leader (not empathy for his fellow man – a trait that is a requirement for politicians in a democracy). Ventspils is the source of the funding that is provided to Lembergs’ ‘pocket party’ in Riga.
‘Similar to a sports car that speeds through populated areas, swiping everything in its way, Lembergs continues his tidal run across Latvia’s politics and countless courts. He does this with no respect to anything or anyone. Money is the source of his “power”. It fuels his anarchic activities. A lot of this money was sucked from oil shipment opportunities stolen from Ventspils sea port, as well as his direct and indirect misappropriations of funds from the state and municipality. Money allows Lembergs to bribe and claim anything and anyone he wants. Starting with Ventpils residents and their votes and ending with judges. Thanks to his manipulative machinations and bribes, Aivars Lembergs has managed to compromise and undermine our trust in the kind of Latvia that is governed by laws,’ – says Veinberga.
She is certain that Lembergs ‘pocket’ party Union of Greens and Farmers is far from being a party of farmers and even further away from being all that green.
‘These people hate Zatlers’ Order #2 with a passion. Therefore, their first step at revenge was to make sure Reform Party is kicked out of the government (the first attempt at this had failed, because Straujuma had suddenly changed her opinion regarding the removal of RP’s Foreign Minister). Nevertheless, it still seems that the 2014 political crisis in Latvia was planned to allow Lembergs’ followers to take their revenge on Zatlers and his followers. It also seems that the oligarch has managed to intervene with Economy Minister’s amendments to the law to limit the fast loan sector. It is easy enough to achieve if you have parties you sponsor,’ – says the journalist.
‘It is rather clear that the President does not care about Latvia. He cares about parties settling their scores. Oligarchs are merciless and vengeful – nothing will remain of his enemies. The needs of the people are secondary to him,’ – Veinberga concludes.