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Wednesday 18.10.2017 | Name days: Rolanda, Rolands, Ronalds, Erlends
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Straujuma versus UGF: who will win?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe childish ultimatums presented by the Union of Greens and Farmers, which is the only party that protests the method of division of ministries among parties of the building coalition, shows signs that confirm what was recently predicted by Ventspils opposition – it is possible that there is an attempt aimed to overthrow the government in play in Latvia.

Potential government partners Reform Party and the National Alliance have expressed their support for the proposal of PM candidate Laimdota Straujuma on how ministries should be divided. Only UGF sticks to its childish wish to take control over Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry and Agriculture Ministry. This conflict over EPRDM is so intense that UGF has even refused to manage Education and Science Ministry. The party’s proposed candidate to take post in EPRDM – Artis Stucka – was Aivars Lembergs’ representative when Edmunds Sprūdžs launched an initiative to dismiss Lembergs. UGF has even stated that if it is not given EPRDM, the party will not support Straujuma.

The more decisive Straujuma is in her offers to UGF (even going as far as offering the Defence Ministry) the clearer the intentions of UGF to take over EPRDM become. Reform Party’s Chairman Edmunds Demiters has said that UGF will need to come to a conclusion sooner or later. Namely – is the party ready to join the coalition? When asked about UGF’s possible motives behind this, Demiters told LETA that ‘there is nothing to guess’, because representatives of this party had previously stated that they wish specifically to take over Agriculture Ministry and Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry. Economy Minister Daniels Pavļuts fears all achievements of Valdis Dombrovskis’ government may be at risk.

Chief Editor of Ir magazine Nellija Ločmele believes the situation with the government’s formation shows a clear shadow of oligarchs and their manipulative hands in political processes. ‘Politicians say there is an agreement about some sort of principles, but it exactly what I don’t see here. All this is mere political arithmetic – we all know how to subtract 1 from 13 and divide 12 by 4. Excuse me, those are not principles,’ – as she commented the government’s proposed method of dividing ministries among coalition parties. The same thing was noted by Ventspils opposition in their open letter to Latvia’s high rank officials: ‘Not a single political party has talked about actual principles, conditions and work to be done. The only thing important to them is to take posts.’

Aivis Landmanis of Ventspils opposition writes that the new government is being put together under direct supervision of the person who remains the head of Ventspils despite being accused of serious crimes. The treaty Dombrovskis’ government had with the European Commission regarding the division of funds was already prepared. The only thing that was left to do was to sign it. The largest amounts meant for the support of poor regions would fund stable development of the transport system (EUR 1.2 billion), environmental protection, reduction of CO2 emission and increase of resource management would receive EUR 1 billion, education and science – EUR 1 billion, business environment and employment increase – EUR 1 billion. The new partner in government formation talks – Union of Greens and Farmers – has informed the PM candidate that the current plan for the division of EUR funds is not satisfying.

Ex-president and co-founder of Reform Party Valdis Zatlers has recently said that ‘the new government is being formed specifically to do absolutely nothing.’ Journalist and media researcher Sandra Veinberga told TVNET portal that the age of ‘political living dead’ continues in Latvia, because money is often a more effective persuasion tool than actual innovative ideas.

BNN had previously reported that deputies of Ventspils opposition had sent an open letter to state officials, noting the possible attempt to overthrow the government in Latvia. ‘Recent behaviour of representatives of For Latvia and Ventspils allow us to conclude that what we see now in political developments may be an attempt to overthrow the government. And this attempt is being carried out by corrupt and irresponsible officials by the order of our fair city’s so-called Mayor,’ – as mentioned in the letter.

It was previously reported that Aivars Lembergs had found a way to use the tragedy in Zolitude to make himself a ‘political safe house’. The roof of Maxima supermarket in Zolitude caved in November 21. The next day, November 22, neither Aivars Lembergs nor his deputies Jānis Vītoliņš and Guntis Blumbergs participated in the meeting of Ventspils City Council. They had allegedly gone to Riga that day.

Even though this new Cabinet of Ministers will have a short life (it will only remain until the next Saeima elections) it was nonetheless vital to overthrow the government at this point. Rumours behind the scenes state Lembergs is gradually running out of money to ‘feed’ politicians, fund his PR campaign and maintain the infrastructure in Ventspils. On top of that, law enforcement authorities are slowly getting closer to him.

According to officials close to Ventspils’ political kitchen, not only does Lembergs spend nearly LVL 2 million of funds taken from Ventspils Freeport on his personal needs every year, it is vital for him to have the Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry under his control, so that he can stop the initiative to expel persons that are under criminal investigation from the government. On top of that, given that Edmunds Sprūdžs had challenged the ruling of Liepaja Court in the care regarding Lembergs’ dismissal, there is a possibility that this situation may unfold in a negative way for Lembergs. Control over EPRDM and Transport Ministry are necessary for Lembergs in order to make sure people loyal to him are appointed to manage Ventspils Freeport.

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