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Wednesday 20.03.2019 | Name days: Made, Irbe
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For Latvia’s Development slowly changes its critical views of Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUA crack has appeared in Riga City Council’s opposition ‘monolith’ against Nils Ušakovs. For Latvia’s Development political party has started slowly changing its critical views of Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga and has started looking to ‘contact points’, Nekā Personīga programme reports.

«Contact points» were noticed in the past. For example, Riga Freeport generously supports VEF basketball club, which is managed by For Latvia’s Development leader Edgars Jaunups. Some leniency has been provided to a businessman close to the party: his gambling hall will be excluded from the planned reconstruction of Āgenskalns market territory, the programme continues.

Something unexpected happened during the 18 April meeting of Riga City Council’s Transport Committee. Harmony’s members proposed supporting a proposal submitted by the opposition. Juris Pūce from For Latvia’s Development party proposed requesting an action plan from Rīgas satiksme in regards to shuttle buses in Riga. The court has decided that it is necessary to terminate the existing contract with Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme. A solution would be needed even without Pūce’s proposal.

Other parties have also noticed this unexpected move from Harmony.

Riga City Council member Vilnis Ķirsis from Unity comments: «Well, considering past experience and the near twelve months I have spent working in Riga City Council, even having collected enough signatures for extraordinary meetings we have seen example of borderline illegal decisions by the ruling coalition to toss proposals in the bin. The practice of pushing aside initiatives from the opposition has been present a long time, as my friend who has worked here for longer than me said.»

Pūce, on the other hand, believes it is time to commence a constructive dialogue with the standing power in Riga, because the ongoing «shouting contest» is not at all productive.

«Perhaps we may get an opportunity to interview the management board of Rīgas satiksme – something we’ve not been able to do before. This means the climate has improved somewhat,» says Pūce.

For Latvia’s Development has also become friendlier towards Harmony. The party has refrained from unjustified criticisms aimed against Mayor Nils Ušakovs and refused signing a request by Unity, New Conservative Party and National Alliance to call an extraordinary meeting to oppose Riga municipality’s new rules for internal order that limit the amount of time provided to debates, as noted by the programme.

Pūce continues: «We did not agree to the proposal to call an extraordinary meeting to review the same matter that is already being reviewed by the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry. A separate meeting of the city council would not resolve it. We believe it is necessary to end panic with new rules.»

For Latvia’s Development has nine deputies – as many as New Conservative Party. National Alliance has six, and Unity has four. Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga have a slight advantage in votes – thirty two. Because of that, some support in opposition would be needed, the programme adds.

Nils Ušakovs comments: «For Latvia’s Development has a different opinion than us when it comes to gambling. During the 12 September 2017 meeting, when we made the decision to close down all gambling halls in Riga’s historic centre, For Latvia’s Development did not vote in favour of it. Harmony responded by publicly criticizing the party of lobbying gambling. Even their colleagues in the opposition were confused over the reasons why Pūce and Bondars did not vote in favour of restricting gambling.»

Mārtiņš Bondars (For Latvia’s Development) comments: «Our motivation to vote the way we did was associated with the way the administrative act was filed. Specifically the draft provided an opportunity for those affected to turn to court and have the decision overturned. Don’t gambling businessmen support other parties or relatives of deputies? At least no one in our party has ever received support from gambling businesses.»

Nekā Personīga reports that Bondars’ wife Ieva is a painter. Bondars’ family often attends art shows organized by Fēnikss and Admirāļu klubs gambling halls owner Jāņis Zuzāns. This particular businessman is a patron and a collector. He has never paid donation to Bondars’ party. However his businesses ISA Alfor and Admirāļu klubs have paid EUR 61,000 to the account of Ascendum association owned by Juris Pūce’s wife Zaiga. This amount accounts for two-thirds of donations paid to this association in 2016.


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