Last week, the dismissed Mayor of Jurmala Gatis Truksnis from the Union of Greens and Farmers admitted using the 150-m2-large apartment in Julijs Krumins’ owned Turaidas quarter in Dzintari. He said he kept his things there during repairs in his home. He did not say how much he paid for rent there.
Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has requested Jurmala City Council to provide all decisions and orders made by the municipality in relation to the creation of Turaidas quarter, as reported by De Facto program of LTV.
Although a week ago Truksnis claimed there was stability in the resort city’s council and members of UGF swore trust to their party member to the last, Truksnis lost his post in the end. How did it come to this? Why did only six UGF members vote in favour of him remaining in this post and eight representatives of other faction voted in favour of his dismissal? At the beginning of the week, nothing suggested such an outcome: members of UGF had even calmed down about Truksnis arrest and the latter had even gone on a trip.
The matter regarding Truksnis was not even on the Green Party’s agenda, as admitted by the party’s leader Edgars Tavars. He was not worried about Truksnis losing his post: «There is a collegiate arrangement on a political level. Deputies I have met wish have told me that none of them have any concerns or intentions to change anything.»
A couple of days later, a signal came from Riga Castle. President Raimonds Vejonis, answering a question asked by De Facto, said: «Of course, western practice states a person should step down in such a situation. Perhaps western practices do not always work in Latvia, but it would be the right decision.»
In the end, Gatis Truksnis was dismissed from his post. Before them, information reported by De Facto about Truksnis’ involvement in the rich project in Dzintary had been confirmed. Turaidas quarter belongs to a company owned by Maija Cernavska, daughter of businessman Julijs Krumins, who is a suspect in the criminal case regarding illegal financing of political parties. The millionaire does not hide the fact that he was the main decision-maker in that project. Several years ago, Krumins had offered Truksnis to move from his three-bedroom apartment in Bulduri to one of the apartments in Krumins’ new apartment complex once it is finished.
A month ago, the two of them discussed that topic again. The millionaire confirmed this in an interview to Viens pret vienu programme this week: «Go to my daughter and pick an apartment, I told him. I talk to my daughter some two weeks ago. I know he was there. […] But once again I see nothing criminal in that. I give gifts and let in anyone I please. Yes, I told my daughter about a contract: there has to be an official document.»
Krumins did not know if there even is a contract. Truksnis only agreed to talk about the apartment in Turaidas quarter after his dismissal: «I stayed there. I’m not staying there anymore. I stayed there temporarily because I wanted to carry out repairs in the apartment I rent, the apartment on Kuldigas Street. While I was doing repairs, my things were being kept in that apartment. Because I have signed an agreement to not meet with certain people, I cannot stay there purely physically. This is why I do not.»
What remains unclear, however, is why he decided to use the largest apartment in Turaidas Quarter as a storehouse for his things and how he could afford something like that. De Facto has found out that the rent of smaller apartments in Turaidas Quarter exceeds EUR 4,000 a month. «Everything is in accordance with the law. Everything is fine with all payments and rent contracts,» – Truksnis claimed, refusing to reveal how much was paid for rent.
What makes this case even more scandalous is KNAB’s recently reported news that there is another criminal case associated with Jurmala and involving corruption. Jurmala City Council has confirmed that KNAB has confiscated documents from the city’s construction office about Turaidas quarter. The bureau does not reveal the identities of people involved in this criminal case.
«There are people from the Health Inspectorate and Jurmala City Council. This is about the third criminal process, which concerns possible illegal behavior in decision-making processes and document forging in someone else’s interests,» – said Chief of KNAB Yaroslav Strelchenok. He refused to reveal if there are any political figures among the suspects.
The programme has found out, however, that KNAB is interested not only about the commissioning of Turaidas quarter, but also previous decisions made by Jurmala City Council in regards to the commissioning of other buildings. When asked about KNAB’s activities, acting head of Jurmala City Council Artus Grants said: «The institution has made a number of requests to us in relation to officials who had taken part in decision-making processes in regards to the construction of Turaidas 17. Because information has been requested, it is exactly what I am trying to provide».
The programme had previously reported information regarding certain interesting votes carried out by the city council in relation to the piece of land located on Turaidas Street, including the decision to change the zoning.
During a short council meeting, members of Truksnis’ faction praised him. They asked no question about his close ties to millionaire Krumins. Even before the scandal none of ‘greens’ had asked Truksnis for any explanations for Turaidas quarter. This is confirmed by deputy head of Jurmala City Council Rita Sproge from UGF: «No, I did not know anything. And I did not ask any personal questions like that.»
According to the programme, Truksnis is forbidden to visit the UGF office and meet with multiple officials from that party. Truksnis has left Turaidas quarter because he is not allowed to meet with Cernavska. He is also prohibited to meet with Julijs Krumins, his financier Jorens Raitums and Juris Mikelis. He also cannot meet with UGF members Valdis Kalnozols and Augusts Brigmanis. The latter categorically denies his involvement in the criminal case.