Latviski English По-русски
Saturday 18.08.2018 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena

Oligarchs in Latvia have been building up influence by distorting media for years

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe conversations tapped in Ridzene Hotel reveal that Latvian infamous oligarchs have been building up their influence over the years by subjugating and distorting media, Ir magazine writes.

«You know what’s s**t? We never resolved… What I said before – we need to agree on social media. We did sort out television, at least. Radio was the only remaining part,» Aivars Lembergs told Ainars Slesers after 10th Saeima elections. In those elections, Slesers’ and Andris Skele’s union Par labu Latviju gained eight seats. «We lost in the short term because there are opponents. What will they do once television and radio are united and private media are in our pocket? They won’t have any resources. We can play this well,» said Slesers.

«Every day they rinse brains,» Lembergs summarized the situation with social media after 10th Saeima elections. Slesers offered forming a union after presidential elections. «Latvian radio and television have ready-made team to cover the entire field. All we need is optimizing activities, relocating to new premises but under a single management,» he said.

Ir reports that such a political concept with involvement of different institutions and experts was developed and would have been realized if not for the sudden decision by Valdis Dombrovskis’ government to put an end to it.

After 10th Saeima elections, Lembergs’ UGF secured influence in a coalition with Unity. At the same time, the majority of the Saeima was in favour of oligarchs’ desired union involving UGF Par labu Latviju and Harmony, would have allowed them to «get rid of» then the President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers and pick a «proper» president that would pave the way for government change. It was also the goal to ensure voters were disappointed in Valdis Dombrovskis’ Cabinet of Ministers, Ir writes.

«The goal is to screw the government,» Slesers formulated in business talks with airBaltic manager Bertolt Flick. To Andris Ameriks, Slesers said: «We’ll put media to constant criticizing of the government». Still, he said they would have to stay in the spotlight. «We should be in the centre, damn it! So that people see! We have to mobilize forces to show that we are not losers. In opposition, but alive and well,» Slesers told his partner Viesturs Koziols. «If we want to consolidate the country, we have to consolidate the media,» Slesers concluded.

«LNT is out direct channel. For LTV, we can provide regular reports,» Slesers told Andris Ameriks. «Diena is already bought,» he told ex-prime minister Vilis Kristopans. «We have Diena and Dienas Bizness, whereas Aivars has Neatkarīga,» PBK, whose management is shared by Harmony and Par labu Latviju.

As reported by Ir, oligarchs also calculated that the money for the media would be taken from state and municipal businesses controlled by the same politicians. Because, although media do not bring profits, those should be sustained to maintain influence, as Slesers explained to Ameriks, who asked at the end of 2010 if the ‘masters’ would continue financing Diena after elections. «It should be kept to prevent the formation of Diena-2. It should be maintained because it is what’s most important,» Slesers said.

He also thought about reaching into state and municipal businesses’ pockets to cover Diena’s losses. In a conversation with Lattelecom Chief Juris Gulbis in November 2010, he mentioned: «We should consider forming long-term relations. One thing is advertisements. PR and everything else is the second thing.» Gulbis agreed that there would be no problems with signing an agreement. «We’ve slowly gotten to a situation when those f***ng writers are all out,» Slesers added.

But in January 2011 he told his business partner Ralfs Klavins that Koziols could reduce costs in Diena by a maximum amount, but that would require bringing something in return. «The point is covering minuses with some other funds. Most importantly – so that we should not have to put anything in ourselves,» Slesers said.

In February, Slesers came up with a solution for airBaltic and told Koziols about it: «I told him [Flick] that an agreement should be signed to cover that hole». Koziols came up with a way to satisfy Slesers’ desire – to have Diena praise Riga City Council. «Let me tell you what will happen with Riga City Council. The city council will be in the gold – we create a separate section for Riga news. We cannot allow what happened with Neatkarīga. It is pathetic – it keeps rapidly losing its audience! Ainars, let’s make it classy and in good taste. Once every ten days – Riga news! Colourful and cool!» said Koziols.

Ridzene talks also reveal that oligarchs also discussed the possibility of consolidating media concerns. In February 2011, Koziols asked what was going on with LNT – whether or not it was being bought by Norwegian Schibsted. Slesers explained: «I’ve talked with Andris, and he offered one option. First, nothing can be bought there right now, because those shares are arrested. But they will come up with a solution to increase capital and Andrejs’ shares will become such… Andris says uniting it – everything with television. This is because there are all regional channels». Koziols objected, saying that there is no point investing because the future is with internet television. Nevertheless, Slesers stuck to his guns. «This is about influence. […] There would be synergy. Otherwise we will never sort out that particular policy. […] One of three channels – not bad for Latvia,» said Slesers.

Ir reports that the scheme was realized in 2011 – a massive capital increase was performed in Independent National Media. Skele’s intermediately owned firm became its main owner. But losses continued for LNT, and after autumn elections in 2011, Ekis’ partners disappeared from politics. A year later, he was forced to sell his share to TV3 owners – Swedish MTG. But in accordance with competition rules, both channels still have their respective news services and their editing policy remain different to one another.

This is the third published portion of deciphered Ridzene talks published by Ir magazine.

Slesers has yet to comment on this story as of yet. Ameriks actively denies any relation to Ir magazine’s published conversations. During a meeting of Riga City Council last year, he said he categorically denied any relation to those statements, claiming he never said anything of the kind. He claimed talks were falsified.

Lembergs detailed in his statement to mass media this week that the conversation with Slesers in Ridzene Hotel were presented in a completely distorted form.


Leave a reply

  1. Zerry says:

    I didn’t know that Slesers is that incompetent in doing normal honest business. The sad thing is that Mr. Ameriks is in good position in Riga. I strongly suppose the best way to do big profitable business in Riga is to became a friend with Andris :)

Eurostat: Latvia had inflation rate higher than average in EU and Eurozone

In July, Latvia’s inflation rate was higher than the average in Europe and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

Presence of Latvian milk reduces, whereas presence of imported milk increases in Latvia

The proportion of milk produced in Latvia is starting to lose to imported milk, as concluded by Central Union of Latvian Dairy Farmers chairman Jānis Šolks.

Seven previously convicted candidates crossed from Saeima election lists

On Friday, 17 August, the Central Election Commission decided to cross out seven previously convicted deputy candidates. The decision regarding one more candidate has been postponed until the next meeting, as confirmed by the commission.

Aspiring prosecutors «drop out» in tests – half of contenders fail second stage of tests

Approximately half of aspiring prosecutor candidates has failed the second portion of tests for general and judicial knowledge.

Riga International Airport concludes first half-year with turnover increase of 13%

Riga International Airport concluded the first half-year of 2018 with turnover increase of 13% when compared to the same period of 2017, according to the airport’s unaudited and shortened account for the six-month period before 30 June 2018.

New tender announced for post of SRS director; first requirement – spotless reputation

Latvia’s State Chancellery has announced an open personnel selection process for the post of director of State Revenue Service. Application submission process will last until 14 September.

CEC to decide on four candidates’ possible relation to KGB

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received results of investigations of all 13th Saeima election candidates from Interior Affairs Ministry’s Information Centre and Latvian Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism.

Concord will have to include bread distribution costs in kebab café in its pre-election expenditures

Political party Concord will have to include in its 13th Saeima pre-election campaign expenditures the money spent by one of its candidates on distributing bread to pensioners free of charge in a kebab café in Bolderāja, as reported by TV3 news.

Weekends expected to be warm and at times hot in Latvia

On Friday, 17 August, the sky will partially cloudy again in Latvia, but no major precipitation is expected. Fog may form is certain regions at night thanks to slow wind speed. Maximum air temperature is expected to be around +22° C… +26° C. Night-time air temperature will stay at +11° C… +16° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvia’s State Audit requests additional funding to invest in workers

State Audit has requested additional funds in next year’s budget to invest in employees, as head of the institution Elita Krūmiņa mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Nearly half of children born in Latvia in 2017 were delivered by mothers with higher education

20,828 children were born in Latvia in 2017. Almost half of them were born to mothers having higher education. Out of the total number of newborn children mothers, 7,229 or 34.7 % had acquired upper secondary general or vocational education and 2,775 or 13.3 % had basic education or lower.

«Steel Magnolia» named Lithuania's most influential politician for fourth consecutive year

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, dubbed as «Steel Magnolia» by foreign press, remains the most influential politician in the country for the fourth consecutive year. In two separate polls, one by the popular ratings magazine Reitingai and the other by pollster Spinter Tyrimai, she appeared on top, being followed by Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), Valdas Adamkus, ex-president, and Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first post-independence leader.

Ex-director: Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before

In the years to come Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before, says the soon ex-director of the museum Imants Lancmanis, who intends to retire at the end of this year.

Star Rating determines the best schools in Latvia

According to the 2018 Star Rating, Riga State Gymnasium No.1 remains in the lead among Latvia’s schools. Daugavpils Russian Secondary School – Lyceum is second, and Riga State Gymnasium No.2 is third.

ABLV Bank assets worth EUR 21.052 million were recovered in July

Liquidators of ABLV Bank have recovered assets worth EUR 21.052 million in July. This includes EUR 11.602 million recovered from issued loans, EUR 7.644 million from recovered/sold securities, EUR 1,792 million from loans provided to credit institutions, and EUR 14,000 from sales of real estate and other types of property, according to the account published in Latvian Herald.

Concerns over Turkish crisis cause world stock market decline

Stock prices around the world took a massive dive on Wednesday, 15 August, as concerns over Turkish crisis’ possible influence and investors’ attempts to get rid of risky assets surfaced again.

Election commission receives word some candidates’ possible non-compliance with the law

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received information regarding possible non-compliance of multiple deputy candidates with requirements of the Saeima Election Law, says CEC chairman Arnis Cimdars.

African swine fever found in domestic pigs in Saldus; inspectors investigate illness in Unguri

African swine fever has been found in domestic pigs in Saldus Country’s Zaņa Parish. The infection was found in four domestic pigs. It cannot be excluded that ASF may have entered SIA Druvas Unguri farm’s pig enclosure along with sawdust or cars, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service Public Relations Office manager Ilze Meistere.

Lithuania lays symbolic rail on restored Mažeiķi–Reņģe railway line

Lithuania’s Lietuvos geležinkeliai railway company’s director general Mantas Bartuška and Polish oil concern Orlen manager Daniel Obatjek laid a symbolic rail on the restored railway route connecting Orlen Lithuania owned Mažeiķi oil processing plant in Lithuania and Reņģi in Latvia this Tuesday, 14 August.

Unemployment level in Latvia down to 7.7% in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.7 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, while over the year it dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

Saeima approves stricter requirements for fast loans

On Tuesday, 14 August, Saeima’s Economic Committee supported in the second reading amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law. The legislative draft states that total loan costs that exceed 0.07% a day from the loan amount are unacceptable and non-compliant with good practice, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Noord Natie develops a new business niche – attracts cruise ships for Ventspils

The first of the cruise ships attracted from SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals will arrive at Ventspils port this week. NNVT stresses that development of cruise business as a new product will help develop tourism in the city and region, as well as provide a contribution to economic development and raise recognition of NNVT terminal and the city.

Culture Ministry announces open contest for post of director of Rundale Castle Museum

Latvia’s Culture Ministry invites contenders to apply for participation in an open contest for the post of director of Rundale Castle Museum. Contenders can submit their applications before 14 September.

Lithuania’s Central Bank to assess information about Latvian VIA SMS Group

Lithuania’s Central Bank has promised to assess information regarding Latvian VIA SMS Group working in the country. This decision is a reaction to the statement made by Seimas National Security and Defence Committee member Arvydas Anušauskas that people associated with former Parex Banka owners work in that company.

Small wineries in Latvia will be allowed to use only local products

Members of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee supported amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, stating that small breweries will be allowed to use products grown only in Latvia.

Newest comments