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Dismissal of Nils Ušakovs alone would not change a thing in Riga

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«No change will come without dismissal of Riga City Council and its subsequent re-election. Activities that point towards the possibility of corruption did not appear solely during the term of the current team at Riga City Council. Its roots date a long way to the past. This means cleaning and general disinfection efforts should be very thorough. Dismissing Nils Ušakovs alone would not help change a thing. Ušakovs both maintains and serves the system,» said opposition deputy Jānis Ozols in a conversation with BNN.

He stressed that what happened with Rīgas satiksme shows that Riga City Council’s ability to think and act have grown stale. «This is exactly the reason why Riga has problems with kindergartens and roads, why we’re still suffering in Riga. Rīgas satiksme is simply not the place where we witnessed the awl falling from the bag.»

«Without dismissing Riga City Council and changing its composition, we will not make changes happen»

«I hope the recent events with RS will serve as a good enough reason to have Riga City Council dismissed, because RS case was a tough push to kick-start the dismissal process,» says Ozols.

«If there is a system that makes corruption possible, it clearly serves to maintain non-transparent management. This means it is a platform for illegal activities. This also means there are ‘unnecessary people’ working there to exact some hidden agenda, whereas the result is always either poor or non-existent. The entire process is very wasteful, and not just about money. Management is flawed, too,» says Ozols.

He notes that this scandal has resonated on a global level: «Speaking of money laundering and all the problems associated with Money reports, as well as suspicions Latvia is one very corrupted and incompetent country, this whole scandal only reinforces this view. Additionally, initiators for all reveals in RS do not come from Latvia – they are from Poland and other countries, which means corruptive activities at RS have been noticed outside of Latvia.»

Ozols also reminds that the corruption scandal at RS is not he first one – the Mercedes Benz bus procurement seventeen years ago transpired in a similar way. «This means the replacement of the administration did not help replace established traditions there.»

BNN had previously mentioned the criminal process launched in regards to the procurement of 117 Mercedes Benz buses over the course between July 2002 and December 2006. Law enforcement institutions accused Riga City Council of inflating prices and committing various corruptive actions, as a result of which mediators received more than EUR 4.3 million. It should be said that this case remains in development.

Where are the best actors working at Riga City Council?

«Looking at it from the perspective of the opposition, it seems these people [the accused] are trying to make it seem nothing bad has happened,» Ozols told BNN.

«The ruling coalition, in which Harmony works, simply cannot work differently. Honour to Serve Riga holds reins over the other half.» The opposition deputy believes it is more economically reasonable and politically mature. This side is looking for an opportunity to not sink along with the ship.

Ozols does not deny this ‘reason’ from Honour to Serve Riga is nothing more than a performance – Andris Ameriks’ replacement with Olegs Burovs and Burovs’ statement that the opposition should be more involved. Ozols does not believe this performance: «Involvement of the opposition in this situation and only in certain points will not give anything, considering the entire system is backwards».

Gerhards’ dusty shelf with complicated affairs

«Gerhads is a routine minister. It is entirely possible he does not like to insult anyone personally. He is not capable of working under extreme situation. He puts more complex affairs on the shelf, avoiding radical, quick solutions. I think he has acted incorrectly until now,» says Ozols.

He reminds there have been multiple invitations to have Ušakovs dismissed from his post of chairman of Riga City Council. «The ministry under Gerhards has always been soft towards mayors – not just in Riga. Such attitude from a minister is not beneficial for Latvia, because Latvia needs decisive action – more than ever after such a major scandal.»

Latest information shows that Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry will wait until the evening of 18 January for responses to the proposals on submitting to the government the proposal on dismissal of Riga City Council.

Riga’s residents could have had better lives

«It is clear that without all the uncovered and yet not uncovered corruptive activities, all of the costs [Riga City Council] could be considerably lower,» says the deputy.

He once again stresses that RS is only one sign of the messy system – the root of the problem lies elsewhere.

«It is important to dismantle the existing system and let new people enter Riga City Council to manage everything in a different way. This is the best that could potentially happen.»

Ozols believes the opposition should be more involved in the work of the city council, including RS, because in a democratic society the opposition clearly performs control function. «Currently the opposition is unable to perform its control function, considering it is isolated from Riga’s administrative functions.»


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