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Wednesday 16.01.2019 | Name days: Lida, Lidija

Opinion: people who don’t vote demonstrate that this is a country of losers

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Latvia’s independence is not something that can be sacrificed for out benefit. I’m not about to claim moral high ground over people who don’t vote, but purely on a human level I cannot accept it. It seems humiliating to me. People degrade and destroy themselves by acting in such a way towards the country, especially when it is put in such a complicated situation. I would classify non-voting as a crime,» said opera, movie and theatre director Viesturs Kairišs in a conversation with BNN.

«By voting you prove that you believe Latvia is successful and can still be successful. You believe you can influence that,’ he continues. He believes people who don’t vote have ‘fallen under the spell of Kremlin’s nightingales’», adding that people who have decided not to vote demonstrate that this is a country of losers.

Commenting on SKDS data that a quarter of Latvian citizens have yet to make their choice, Kairišs says that this is acceptable in the modern political spectrum. «I think it’s because it’s hard to pick the best option.»

«It is primitive to vote for parties whose ratings are shown below 5% by SKDS»

«Voters are unlikely to pick parties whose ratings are below 5%, because they are unlikely to make it to the Saeima, making the votes cast for them go to waste. It is better to vote for the ones with ratings above 5%; it will ensure at least some stability,» the director sarcastically comments on SKDS’ survey results. According to him, it is primitive to not vote for a party just because SKDS surveys show its rating below 5%.

«I think SKDS surveys always show one distinct tendency – they always serve the largest parties, maintaining their ratings and fighting against smaller parties by pulling their ratings below to make them look less popular. I cannot ignore it, because the feeling is always there during elections,» says Kairišs.

He says that «the way questions are formulated in surveys plays a major role – questions can be formulated specifically to ensure favourable outcome for their owners». «SKDS benefits from different projects in Ventspils. Can you imagine Ventspils ever ordering some project from me? Well, think about it. I think this case stinks. Really stinks. The free market should punish such companies by picking a more trustworthy source for them next time.»

He adds: «I don’t want to blame them, because it is clear SKDS surveys do reflect at least some tendencies. It’s not all that bad.»

«We are the ones who make it possible for people to make fun of us!»

According to Kairišs, the Union of Greens and Farmers has been punished for ‘oligarch talks’, considering the party’s rating decline from 15.3% to 9.4% since January. «I would pat our society on the back for that – it is not like people go unpunished, after all,» the director said, commenting on the ‘oligarch talks’ published by Ir magazine. «This, I think, is democracy’s only power.»

Looking at the parliamentary investigative committee’s final report on the ‘oligarchs case’, he says: «It was a disgrace. It was humiliating. The fact Latvia’s society did not walk in the thousands to demand Saeima’s dismissal after [Inguna] Sudraba’s’ committee made this awful decision proves that we still have no idea that we have rights and responsibilities. We are the ones who make it possible for people to make fun of us!»

«I can see people punish the National Alliance for justice. People punish Unity for the mess caused by Solvita Āboltiņa. I think people should punish politicians whenever they do something bad. This, I believe, is mechanism of powerful democracy,» says Kairišs.

«Gundars Daudze [UGF] cannot afford saying something about readiness to form a government with Concord on TV and then blame others for pulling his words out of context. No, that’s not how it works in politics. If you do something like that, you’re a dead man. Period. Politics is not a forgiving environment,» Kairišs shares his views.

He also mentioned that democracy punishes politicians for very serious violations and in situations when there are only suspicions. «It is not like all suspicions can be written off as fake news. Very often suspicions have justified reasons to exist.» Kairišs believes «we are all very far from a society that is able to truly punish. Still, this process does happen in some percentage.»

«If Concord forms the government, it will be necessary to go into politics and fight»

«People have to understand, cooperation with Concord is not cooperation with Concord – it is Kremlin. It is cooperation with Putin’s scenario. This is a very serious factor. I’m not interested in any red lines. There is only a categorical ‘no’ that I feel with every cell of my body. The parties I immediately push away, aside from Concord and Latvian Russians Union, include KPV LV and Union of Greens and Farmers. It is clear – there is a lot of money there, Kremlin’s programmes are well-made, and I do not doubt that there are many positive aspects, but it all represents influence from another country, which I would rather not see in our country. If Concord forms the government, it will be necessary to go into politics and fight,» he said.

As for the way people should make their choice from so many parties, Kairišs says: «People have to look if the work performed by parties is to their liking. If people are satisfied, then, by all means, vote for those parties. If people are not satisfied, there are many other parties to choose from.» He adds that the idea of Latvia’s independence should be represented in every possible political direction, be it conservative, socio-democratic, liberal, etc.

The director stresses that he has fundamental believes, but depending on the situation it is sometimes better to be more liberal or conservative. «Full left should remain when inequality is too high,» he adds.

Hiding behind «correct discussions»

Looking at the reasons why Latvia has not been able to get rid of USSR, its heritage and its methods, Kairišs looks back to the end of the Soviet Union: «KGB knew the old regime would collapse and that it was necessary to start working with the new one. Then they released several national leaders. Those were ‘the real deal’. In the end, the same old system took over the new order.» He says that when Latvia separated from USSR and existed as a sovereign country, the old regime that continued working from below, simply could not drop the old laws, because of pressure from outside – changing laws and introducing different initiatives. «From the outside, the formally democratic country was put in order,» Kairišs comments on the beginning of Latvia’s recovered independence.

Commenting on delays with the opening of the KGB bag, Kairišs merely said: «Behind ‘correct discussions’ there is only one decision – to not open it! This much is clear.»

He adds that «it is clear Latvia has some heritage left from the Soviet Union». «This is why I welcome new parties that have clear socio-democratic views. I see future for them. Not just in the Saeima, but purely fundamentally.»

«We all know which parties have former communist bosses. One party has a whole collection of former communist organizations. Even young members are trained using their old ideology. I think the fight against communist past remains topical for Latvia,» says Kairišs.

He also adds that he is more worried that this [soviet] mechanism was created by Moscow. «Yes, we left USSR, but the mechanism continues to exist. People remain subjugated by it to some extent. I am terribly concerned that we are being influenced by a hostile country through this mechanism. This is what worries me the most.» He adds that he is not interested in any morality battles. «Let people live as they want. I just don’t want it [the mechanism] to influence our country. But it does. It continues to. We cannot deny this. We cannot ignore it.»

«We consist of democratic institutions, and I am convinced most of them are simulated»

Kairišs wonders just how democratic Latvia’s governance system truly is. He says he wanted to take part in several procurements organized by Culture Ministry in the past. «I was always politely told to ‘shove off’. Whenever I wanted to take part, thinking myself to be a higher-level expert than those who were picked by people sitting in the committee, I got suspicious. And this is about Culture Ministry, which has almost no money to toss around. I dread to imagine what goes on at the ‘real procurements’.»

«I’ve noticed that even democratic institutions and their procedures are also exposed to non-democratic methods. From this experience I can conclude that democratic institutions are simulated – all decisions are made like in the ‘old times’, when procurement committees were composed in such a way to ensure victory for the ‘right candidate’. It’s all very simple. We consist of democratic institutions, and I am convinced most of them are simulated.»

«Our country’s rotten core is the biggest threat to our independence»

«The investigative committee, the work of the prosecutor’s office, CPCB [Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau] represents everything we want to change. These factors represent the rot in our country’s core elections should help rip out. Like apples in autumn. I eat apples every day. Some of them have signs of rotting. You simple cut those portions out and eat the healthy flesh. No one eats rotten apples,» say the director. He adds that Latvia’s rotten core is the main threat to the country’s independence.

As for society’s mood prior to elections, Kairišs mentions: «The mood in Latvia, which is something we all noticed during the Pope’s visit, is unfortunately such that people really do not care what happens. This is sad, but this is a sign of a young society. Our nation is in the middle of its formation.»

He adds that this indifference is used by groups we often call political parties. «They use citizens’ low activity and low understanding of their rights and duties.»

To outline the importance of elections, Kairišs mentions Andrejs Pumpurs’ characters from Lāčplēsis: «An eternal battle is fought between Lāčplēsis and the Dark Knight on the bank of Daugava River near Lielvārde. It has continued for centuries. The fight for Latvia is also eternal.»

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