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Friday 03.04.2020 | Name days: Daira, Dairis

Opinion: ZZS's blind faith in Lembergs may result in serious loss of finances for party

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Aivars Lembergs, Edgars Tavars, Armands Krauze, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, sanctions, OFAC, ZZS

From left: Aivars Lembergs, Edgars Tavars and Armands Krauze

Intentionally blind faith – this is the way it is possible to describe the way Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS) sticks with the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes and applied with international sanctions, and his party For Latvia and Ventspils. Their faith is so unbreakable, in fact, it is not shaken even by threats of taking away state funding.

Starting with 2020, the funding provided for political parties has increased. It is expected that ZZS may receive a considerable amount this year – EUR 489 163.

It should be said, however, after the US Department of the Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) instituted sanctions on 9 December 2019 against Lembergs and three organizations associated with him – Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Association – Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) started an investigation to see if ties to Lembergs is a reason to stop providing ZZS and its member party For Latvia and Ventspils state funding.

BNN received a response from KNAB, which states that the decision regarding allocation of funding for both political parties will likely be made on 15 January. This date is also the term by which political parties in Latvia are to be paid part of the state funding. The other portion of state funding amount is to be paid by 15 July. It is worth mentioning that some years ago ZZS named Lembergs their prime minister candidate. While in the government coalition, ZZS also happily listened to his opinion. The party’s failure to enter the 13th Saeima and Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government was blamed not on their own inaction but on Lembergs’ non-involvement in the pre-election campaign. The last Saeima elections were ZZS decided to drop the «Lembergs – our prime minister candidate» act and instead picked Māris Kučinskis for the second prime minister’s term.

Last week ZZS met with Lembergs, but no one at the meeting had the thought to mention what the US sanctions against Lembergs would mean for the party’s future and whether it could be a reason to consider going separate ways. As ZZS board chairman Edgars Tavars mentioned at the 8 January meeting – this topic will be discussed only if someone from the party union wants to discuss it.

Public statements like that make it unlikely anyone in ZZS has any desire to look at Lembergs in a realistic fashion because of US sanctions.

Soon after application of sanctions, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, who was taught in Lembergs’ party For Latvia and Ventspils, publicly invited the suspended mayor of Ventpsils to leave politics entirely and «leave with dignity, not agonize and pull many others into the horrors of political agony».

«This is a crossroads at which Latvian Farmers Union (LZS) needs to go right – a direction visible to all, without Aivars Lembergs,» said Reizniece-Ozola after application of sanctions. But is seems LZS and ZZS have both made their choice – stick with the sinking Lembergs, singing the same old song, that they are not the judges and it’s not for them to decide on anyone’s responsibility before the law. Only thing left if to wait for someone from ZZS to call the ex-finance minister a crazy woman who does not understand what she is saying.

US sanctions have created an unprecedented situation with the topic regarding funding for political parties. However, it is also important to keep in mind what is explained in OFAC’s statement – Lembergs is responsible, has cooperated and is directly or indirectly involved in corruption, including wasting of state finances and corruption associated with state contracts.

And so it is worth asking why should a party be supported from the state budget if the people associated with it every now and again work opposite to state interests and use public finances for their own benefit?

The statement from OFAC makes it clear that Lembergs controls entities through political parties and corrupt politicians, and systematically exploits those entities and individuals for his own economic gain. The unquestionable loyalty ZZS has before Lembergs makes it clear this influence is still present.

KNAB can now use OFAC report to put an end to this influence that has distorted Latvia’s face since the ‘90s.

Leave a reply

  1. Zerry says:

    Of course, money talks. And maybe also Lembergs knows so much of sensitive private information about oersons that better not to try to let him alone aside.

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