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Friday 18.08.2017 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena
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Who is now running Riga Port? Oligarchs?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUInformation agency BNN keeps publishing investigative journalism story “Inhabitants of the capital of Latvia becoming hostages of money bags”. Back on July 26, 2011, Riga City Council allowed to build mineral fertilizer terminal on Kundzinala island. The project includes handling and storing mineral fertilizers right next to terminals operating with liquefied gas, oil products and chemicals.This means that over the year 1 050 000 million tons of ammonium nitrate will be carried by rail through the entire city, while 90 000 tons of saltpeter will be stored few kilometers from the city center. There are no ports in Europe which would allow storing more than 5 000 tons.

It is known that ammonium saltpeter is not only fire-hazardous and explosive, but also serves as a key component of explosives actively used by terrorists around the world. This explosive kills thousands of people not only in the U.S, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, but now more often in the European continent: the United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Russia, with more recent event reported on June 22, when a terrorist blew up a car filled with ammonium saltpeter near government buildings in the capital of Norway.

The first part of the investigative journalism story “Fertilizers turning into explosives” was published on bnn-news.com, bnn.lv and bnn-news.ru. It stressed to what deadly danger Riga City Council was about to subject its people. BNN is now set to publish the second part of the research.

The idea of building such a terminal in Riga first popped up publicly in a press conference on January 29, 2009. It was held by… Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs. Back then, he was no longer able to play a role in the potash terminal “Kālija parks” profit distribution. And all this – in a city he rules like a king. If he succeeded, it would pave the way for building his deadly terminal. The idea was further polished by Riga deputy mayor and Freeport Chairman Ainars Slesers. It was exactly him in the post of a transport minister, when Latvian Railway set potassium transportation tariffs high enough to 1 500 000 tons of cargo being diverted to the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. Lembergs was an eager supporter of the move.

Slesers intended to break lease agreements with companies operating in Riga Port. Unlike the usual lengthy procedures needed to allot public land for private business, this time it did not take that long at all. In fact, it happened at a fantastic speed. By mid-2010, there was already a contract with “Riga fertilizer terminal” not only on construction, but also on lease of 13 hectares of public land for a period as long as 45 years. This truly valuable property was taken away from its previous tenant – National Container Terminal LLC.

“Riga Commercial Port” is the co-founder of “Riga fertilizer terminal” from the part of Latvia, while the Russian United Chemical Company“Uralchem” acts on behalf with its subsidiary “URALCHEM FREIGHT LIMITED”.

The journalistic research goes into a detailed account how certain individuals got hold of the former public port of Riga already starting from December 30, 1995. BNN unveils these persons and their politic as well as business interests.

The following persons, among many others, could be considered members of Lembergs’ group, which practically deprived Riga residents of their port. Positions indicated are the ones held at that time.

=Vilis Kristopans. Prime Minister and leader of Greens and Farmers Union

=Imants Sarmulis. Managing director at Ventspils Free Port, Chairman at “Latvian Shipping Company”, board member of “Latvian Railway”, board member of Transit Business Association of Latvia.

=Ivars Sormulis. Board Chairman of “Baltic Express”, Chairman of the “Baltic transit services”. His brother – Ansis Sormulis and Lembergs are both accused of committing serious crimes against the state.

=Vladimir Solomatin. Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of the Board at “Latvian oil transit”, board member and Chairman of “LatRosTrans”, Board Chairman of the Audit Committee, board member, Vice-Chairman and Chairman at “Ventspils oil”, board member at “Latvian Shipping Company”.

Slesers has its own group as well. Members of it:

=Ugis Magonis. Board Chairman of “Latvian Railway”, before that – Advisor to Minister of Transport – Slesers. Shareholder oriented towards Riga Port group “Hansa”, board member of Latvian Transit Business Association under the control of Lembergs.

=Guntis Macs. Board Chairman of “LDz Cargo”, before that – Advisor to the Minister of Transport – Slesers, deputy state secretary at Transport Ministry, chairman of “Latvian Railway”, Director of Strategic Development at “Latvian Railway”.

=Gundars Bojars, Riga Mayor, gave the green light to the port being taken over by private businesses. Also – functionary of Slesers party.

=Andris Ameriks. Almost 10 years in the management structures of Riga Free Port. Chairman of the Committee of Urban Development, chairman at the committee dealing with privatization of city property at the time of oligarch clans “conquering” Riga port. Head of Slesers party LPP/LC Riga branch, shareholder of “Ventspils oil” and “Latvian Shipping Company”.

Possible members of Andris Skele group:

=Aigars Kalvitis. Prime Minister back in 2006. He was going to bring much of Riga Port territory out of its borders, so that the private company “New Riga Development Company” Ltd., operating there, would be the first to privatize dozens of hectares in Riga center and that way save about 60 million lats.

=Jānis Leimanis. Deputy Chairman of the Board of “New Riga Development Company” Ltd. He worked in the Latvian branch of the world famous auditing company “PricewaterhouseCoopers”, which was servicing Skele’s “Ave Lat Grupa”. Member of the Board and Council at “Latvian balsam” (Latvijas balzams), “Riga wines”, Board Chairman of Skele’s “New Technology and Business Development Corporation”. Bought and resold to Skele’s daughters national sports foundation “Riga Sports Palace”. While they later resold the property to the Estonian citizen Urmas Sorumaa, thus making 18 million lats.

=Valters Mazins. Board Chairman of “Riga Central Terminal”, Board Chairman of “New Riga Development Company” Ltd. Before that – board member of Skele’s “Latvian balsam”, Board Chairman of Skele’s “Riga wines” and “Riga beer”.

Besides, BNN has also got hold of facts that testify for the special relationship among other famous faces and these three Latvian oligarchs. These persons include the former Economy Minister Ojārs Kehris, long-standing Riga Free Port manager – Leonids Loginovs, such influential businessmen as Guntis Indriksons and Ralfs Klavins, “Riga Trade Port” Chairman, who represents the Latvian party in Latvian-Russian joint venture, which is to handle and store ammonium nitrate in Riga. Journalists carrying out this research have created a detailed map of interests intersection of these three oligarchs. Two of them – Lembergs and Slesers – are looking forward to the parliamentray election results to see to it whether they will be able to advance their interests.

BNN assumes that this way Riga City Council’s decision to allow construction of mineral fertilizer terminal not only turns Riga into an easy terrorist target, but also practically cements the oligarch clans’ part of the port.

Full second part of the investigative journalism research “Inhabitants of the capital of Latvia becoming hostages of moneybags” will be able on bnn-news.com, bnn.lv and bnn-news.ru in the coming days.


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