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Wednesday 15.08.2018 | Name days: Dzelde, Zenta, Zelda

Lembergs & Co. gathered to discuss «problems» of the high and mighty

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUPolitical businessman Ainars Slesers held a friendly discussion with his associates – Aivars Lembergs, Andris Ameriks, Janis Urbanovics, Janis Duklavs and Valerijs Kargins – at Ridzene Hotel. The group discussed toppling Valdis Dombrovskis’ government, replacement of multiple high-ranking officials and the possible sale of pieces of land within Riga Freeport’s territory, according to transcripts from the conversation published by Ir magazine and provided by anonymous sources.

According to this information, Slesers met with Kargin in 2010. The latter came to see Slesers to ask for help to make sure the Saeima would not vote for the law amendments and not take away generous interest payments from the former owner of Parex Bank. Kargins told Slesers that he has business in Belarus, interesting offers in Russia and nothing in Latvia. Although the former Parex clientele remained with him, Kargins said it is important to keep in mind «which direction to move», because the banking sector is under «serious monitoring».

Slesers said that if he succeeds in elections, there would be «many changes» and more business opportunities for everyone. He said he would develop not only residence permit issue in exchange for investments in real estate, but would also support amending the Citizenship Law. «Here’s the idea – we should sell passports,» said Slesers, adding that giving citizenship to 10,000 very rich investors would help Latvia resolve all of its problems in one fell swoop. He added, however, that this cannot be accomplished with «the current government and all those parasites that sit there». «It can only be done if we have HC [Harmony Centre] and 51 votes, or with Andris [Ameriks] or Aivars [Lembergs], but not with others. Others won’t go for it,» said Slesers.

Kargins agreed that the financial management in the country should be changed. «I don’t hide my opinion in a small company of people. I say the entire financial top should be removed [Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmars] Rinkevics, [Finance and Capital Market Commission chairperson Irena] Krumane – they are the enemies,» said Kargins.

The ex-banker asked for help from Slesers’ party in the parliament. «All this time they’ve been trying to accomplish in the Saeima to have us [and the other ex-Parex owner Viktors Krasovicskis] screwed. The memorandum that was signed with IMF has a point in accordance with which the government should turn to the parliament to take away income from subordinated capital from former shareholders. To take away our income!»

Slesers promised help because he is no communist or socialist.

Another conversation was tapped in April 2010. This one was between Slesers and Duklavs. The two discussed the failure of Janis Maizitis in the Saeima, when the coalition decided against its previous promise and did not support his re-election as Prosecutor General. «Aivars demonstrated his power then and smacked the prosecutor across the face. What a display it was!» Slesers said. Duklavs agreed. «It will serve as a signal to other prosecutors and many others in the law enforcement that power is about the change,» Slesers concluded.

For power to truly change, they needed victory in the 2010 autumn election. «The gathering I had participated in made it clear that UGF [Union of Greens and Farmers] candidates would have to be picked from people ready to work with PLL [Par labu Latviju!] and Harmony Centre,» Duklavs said. But Slesers voiced concerns that UGF would pick too many «uncontrollable lumps». He said they would have to work hard before elections to form a government with HC. «Here’s what I think – if UGF provides the right people, we won’t have any problems creating absolute majority,» said Slesers. «That’s what Aivars hopes for,» Duklavs replied.

Ir reports that Slesers and Duklavs also discussed the government’s permission for the construction of Slesers’ home in Pumpuri. Duklavs said [then the Prime Minister Valdis] Dombrovskis refused to push this matter personally, but nonetheless agreed to let Duklavs do it while the prime minister was away on a visit to a foreign country.

At the end of their conversation, Duklavs asked Slesers as the chairman of Riga Freeport management board «one practical question». «I happen to own a piece of land at the port,» said the minister. The property, which is several hectares large, is located on the left bank of Daugava River. «It’s registered under a couple of firms.» It has multiple owners – all of them registered under fake names. Duklavs personally owns 10% of the land. His associates wished to sell their property at the port and receive a modest 15 «lemons» [millions] in exchange. Slesers explained there is no way to get that much – no one buys land from under the port. He did say it can be leased cheaply. Politician Vents Armands Krauklis had a similar problem – he bought land under the airport and later tried selling it, said Slesers.

A day after the People’s Party decided to leave Dombrovskis’ government in March 2010, Slesers Lembergs and then the leader of Harmony Centre’s Saeima faction Urbanovics convened together to discuss the tactic they would employ for the October’s Saeima elections, Ir reports. According to the tapped conversation, Slesers was worried about UGF wanting to form a government with SC, not Unity. «We need to know because otherwise it would be unfair. It cannot be that today[UGF Saeima faction leader Augusts] Brigmanis sleeps under, but tomorrow – alongside Slesers and Urbanovics! I just can’t believe it,» he said. Urbanovics agreed. Then both politicians turned to television news, showing People’s Party deputy Aija Barca expressing support for minority government. «This c**t screwed us over too,» Urbanovics commented.

The two were then joined by Lembergs in the hotel room. He said staying in minority government with Dombrovskis pushes UGF in a corner, because this meant cutting budget costs by half and having [then the Welfare Minister Uldis] Augulis open to the public with bad news right before elections. «Coming out with his own proposals, none of which will be good – not ever one. And he’ll direct all hate towards green farmers,» Lembergs said. He also offered a solution – coming up with a much more positive economic growth outlook for the next year. «And no deficit for me. That’s all!»

Another solution, according to Lembergs, would be refinancing social budget deficit from the base budget: «And that’s the whole reform!»

Lembergs also gave Slesers a piece of advice – to use the fact that Dombrovskis now had to look for support with the same person he was fighting the whole time. «Humiliate them some more. Make them crawl to you – the oligarch they’ve been demonizing this whole time,» said Lembergs.

As reported by Ir magazine, a meeting was held in the hotel after Saeima elections in October 2010. This meeting was attended by Lembergs, Slesers and Ameriks. Lembergs was angry at Leonids Loginovs and announced his intention to discuss his replacement with Dombrovskis. The core of the conflict surrounded LSF, which Lembergs’ children were apparently interested in. Lembergs told Slesers and Ameriks that there had been an agreement about lease of tug boats and their operation at the port. «Even a bribe was accepted – some USD 300,000. But what we agreed upon was never realized. On top of that, the company now owes the port USD 500,000. We paid Loginov & Co. They took the money by never did what they promised!» Lembergs expressed his shock and demanded the port management to find a way out from this situation.

Ameriks promised: «I think we can find a way. […] We just need a legally clean variant.» He also corrected Lembergs, saying that no bribes were taken: «No one paid anything there. In the end it was all about promises…»

Slesers tried calming Lembergs by saying that Loginovs «is not a bad man, but every now and then he does things like that…» Ameriks also said the government would fall after presidential elections, and that the management board of the freeport is nothing to fuss about: «Look, here’s what I have to say – do you even remember your role in this? […] The board is a buffer. You wouldn’t get by even a week without that buffer. A new minister will come and screw you over before you even wake up.» Lembergs then promised UGF would get the Transport Minister’s post.

Talks about the big politics continued between Lembergs and Slesers. Ir magazine writes that Lembergs started the talks with a lesson, saying that by joining up Slesers and ex-prime minister Andris Skele ata away each other’s voters. «You see? Had you listened to me, you would have stayed in Riga.» Slesers admitted his mistake, but also said he hopes taking over after presidential elections in 2011. «You have to mark a president,» Slesers said, adding that Valdis Zatlers should be «taken the f**k down».


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