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Sunday 05.04.2020 | Name days: Vidaga, Aivija, Vija

LTV: those involved in «cigarette mafia» scandal have ties to Ušakovs’ ex-advisor Dzanuškāns

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cigarette mafia, Riga Central Market, scandal, lease, territoryRiga Central Market’s «cigarette mafia» scandal’s participants reach all the way to ex-Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs’s advisor Jānis Dzanuškāns, as reported by LTV programme De Facto.

In the final week of November Riga Central Market terminated its contract with Tirdzniecības nams Latgales priekšpilsētā, which was responsible for managing the territory in which police found illegal trade of cigarettes – the company now has time until mid-January 2020 to leave the market.

Tirdzniecības nams Latgales priekšpilsētā has three owners. Since 2013, a quarter of capital shares are owned by independent sworn attorney Zane Vilcāne, who also practices law in Dzanuškāns & Partneri law firm.

Until now, Riga City Council deputy and founder of this law firm Jānis Dzanuškāns was the now ex-Mayor of Riga Ušakovs’ advisor for legal affairs. However, lately Dzanuškāns has been associated with the Independent Deputies Faction, among which is also the now ex-Mayor of Riga and once a holder of Riga Central Market shares Vadims Baraņņiks, as reported by the programme.

Vilcāne believes the turning against his partially owned company unjustified, because she had asked the police to combat illegal cigarette traders on multiple occasions in the past. She told the programme his business has no relation to her law practice and she has no ties to politics. The attorney also denies any special treatment from Dzanuškāns.

De Facto is aware, Vilcāne started working with Riga City Council structures in 2011. Information from the programme shows that she was invited to provide legal assistance to Riga City Council Legal Affairs Office as the only contender. She had a major role in recommendations provided to Ušakovs’ office. Dzanuškāns worked there as well.

Riga Central Market chairman Artis Druvinieks confirmed in a conversation with De Facto that he has met with Dzanuškāns, but the two did not discuss anything important – just the general situation at the market.

Druvinieks does not reveal who organized their meeting. It is possible, however, it was one of Riga Central Market’s political supervisors, as reported by LTV.

Aside from Baraņņiks, other Independent Deputies Faction representatives were associated with the market – Valērijs Petrovs and Vitālijs Dubovs. The two were advisors to the board of the central market. Baraņņiks’ decision to dismiss the market’s board was based on Petrovs’ report.

Petrovs claims his position was intended to maintain a link between the company and political power, because Riga City Council holds political responsibility over what happens in its capital associations. This is why the report for Baraņņiks was put together, the deputy told the programme.

One of the problems outlined in Petrovs’ report is the negligence by the board in lease of the market’s industrial section, which has been leased to Promenex since 2013. The company is committed to installing a transport hub with parking lots and trade locations.

More on this topic: Central Market’s rent contract signed during Ušakovs’s reign may have cost Riga millions

Information reported by the media detail plans to build a supermarket there. There is also the matter of interests from Ušakovs’ former advisor Ēriks Teilāns. After the end of the lease contract Riga Central Market is supposed to buy back the buildings at market value – this change was adopted to the contract in spring 2017 by then the shareholder Ušakovs, as reported by De Facto.

Riga’s Mayor Oļegs Burovs had previously said that conditions of the contract are not beneficial for the municipality. Now, however, as a shareholder he is prepared to discuss the contract with the tenant – extend construction terms and exclude conditions that are not beneficial to the market.

Following the detainment of multiple people as part of the «cigarette mafia» scandal, Internal Security Service head Maksims Danovskis was dismissed. The same applies to Dubovs and Petrovs.

This happened because the board now has free hands, said Druvinieks.

Baraņņiks, on the other hand, denied this to the programme: «We can say anything after everything that has happened thus far. Of course Druvinieks will try to say he was not allowed to do anything, but let’s be honest: he has never once made such a proposal.»

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