In late May, President Andris Berzins paid an official visit to Ventspils, where he met with the “old oligarch” and informal leader of the Greens and Farmers Union – Aivars Lembergs. However, the U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber has chosen not to follow in his footsteps, reports the portal Pietiek.
According to the U.S. Embassy’s press service, Garber is visiting Ventspils on Thursday, June 14. But she will not meet with Lembergs, as both the General Prosecutor’s Office and the court have ruled that he is no longer allowed to fulfill his duties as a mayor.
“As we understand, the General Prosecutor’s Office has imposed Lembergs a security measure – he has been forbidden to fulfill the duties of Ventspils Mayor. As long as Latvian courts are hearing charges brought against him, the meeting of the Ambassador and Lembergs would not be appropriate,” the Embassy says.
It should be added that President Berzins’ opinion on this differs quite significantly. BNN already reported, on June 1, he met with Lembergs, who has been accused of serious crimes. Lembergs keeps positioning himself as Ventspils Mayor and organizing conferences. Besides, he is arriving to court hearings in a luxurious Audi, owned by Ventspils Free Port.
Deputies of Ventspils City Council wrote Berzins a letter on June 7, in which they expressed their regret that the schedule of high ranking government officials does not include meetings with the deputies of the city council, especially with deputies of the opposition of the city council.
“Unfortunately, instead of meeting with all Ventspils City Council deputies, to hear out concerns and standing problems, you chose to meet with a person charged with serious crimes. You carefully listened to the censored information of this person and grabbed on to the illusion, which has nothing to do with the reality of things in Ventspils. We are certain – if you had the necessary information, the form of your visit would have carried a different manner, surprising conclusions would not have been made, instead, your attention would have been drawn to the arbitrariness in the local government and at the city port,” the letter says.
It should be noted that the so called Lembergs’ criminal proceedings at the Riga Regiona l Court have already had 224 hearings. 45 Court hearings took place in 2009, 54 – in 2010 and 82 – in 2011. This year, Lembergs’ case participants have already met in the courtroom 43 times. 140 volumes bring together two criminal procedures, which the prosecutor handed to the Court in the second half of 2008.
The Prosecutor’s Office is accusing Lembergs of accepting bribes, money laundering, counterfeiting of service and participation in property transactions, which was against the law due to his post, as well as abuse of power and other crimes. His son, Anrijs Lembergs, is being accused along with him.