bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Wednesday 20.03.2019 | Name days: Made, Irbe
LatviaLatvia

Opposition deputy: Latvia’s Environment Ministry has mafia-like structure

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry is abundantly misused. Over the years it has fallen under management of people representing interests of very narrow groups of people. Among them are representatives of the Union of Greens and Farmers, who have received the mandate to manage the ministry in exchange for demonstrating their loyalty to the regime in Ventspils. UGF has become one with Ventspils powers. Other parties, such as Harmony and the National Alliance, are trying to hide this fact,» said Ventspils opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis in an interview to BNN.

He says that those parties often defend old nomenclatures – «servants of the Soviet Union and their ambiguous operations in Latvia’s state power structures». «This is felt quite well in Ventspils. The only positive exception was Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Edmunds Sprūdžs, who was unfortunately ‘eaten away’ by mafia structures present in Latvia’s party system,» Landmanis continues.

He believes an internal lobby has formed inside the ministry. This lobby has served the interests of a very narrow group of people for almost as long as Latvia has had its independence restored. «It is almost a mafia-like structure that operates alongside the state structure. Its power centre, however, is located elsewhere.»

Landmanis also mentions that the ministry is currently led by a representative of the National Alliance, and this party allegedly fights for democratic values. «Municipal matters are made, it seems, by parties that work well with each other – UGF and Harmony – which leaves the minister from NA is an odd position,» says Landmanis.

«Latvia’s environment minister, including the current minister Kaspars Gerhards, should have requested a change of Ventspils City Council chairman a long time ago. Lembergs has been absent since 2007. It is clear he cannot be allowed to be chairman, but the ministry acts as though it sees nothing,» BNN was told by Ventspils opposition deputy.

«Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry cannot allow such madness and absurdity as a situation when a person who has been absent since 2007 to continue take official posts they are not allowed by law, but continue doing that de facto. Ventspils City Council composition has changed four times. And yet the ministry refuses to react to the obvious absurd that has since formed. Ventspils needs a chairman who can legitimately perform their duties – Lembergs’ deputy Jānis Vītoliņš, at the very least. This is the first and foremost act Latvia’s environment minister should do,» says the deputy.

The second most important act, according to Landmanis, is for the ministry to make sure opposition deputies are not discriminated and are allowed to perform their duties and receive appropriate information in full accordance with the law.

«The ministry should also investigate how administrative resources are used in different municipalities and prevent their possible misuse for private interests. For example, Lembergs permits himself to lie and blacken opposition deputies during his press-conferences – the ones organized using the municipality’s finances. In such situations the ministry should immediately respond and punish the ones committing violations. This includes enforcing the losses caused to the municipality from them. As long as there is no action against such behaviour, society will remain fooled and used,» says Landmanis.

The deputy notes that such situations can only form with irresponsible or manipulated ministers, such as minister Gerhards, the deputy says. «How can people not be afraid of a person who holds nearly the entire country in his hands?» Landmanis comments on the situation with Gerhards.

Landmanis adds: «If we want to change something significantly, we should address Ventspils as the first problem. Studying the decisions made in the last four compositions of the city council there, as well as the obvious violations, is the bare minimum of tasks. I say that violations committed in Ventspils are far more serious than the ones in Riga. Dealing with this problem would be a good start for us to change the situation in other municipalities.»

He also adds that opposition deputies of multiple municipalities should consolidate to achieve results more quickly. «This would make it harder for the environment ministry to look the other way.»

As for all the bad committed against Latvia’s society when a situation like the one in Ventspils appears, Landmanis says: «Society cultivates distrust towards its own country. This is why people continue leaving the country – they do not believe anything can be improved here. They say a country or its economy cannot be built on lies. It should not be allowed to keep a person with an enormous list of criminal charges in the post of the city council’s chairman – it gives the wrong signals to investors and society alike. An entire generation has grown up while Lembergs’ criminal case was being processed. Lembergs visits schools and tells everyone that he is the city council’s chairman, even though law enforcement authorities have suspended him. Teachers and the media [in Ventspils, at least] praise him. Just imagine what goes on in the heads of the new generation! Consequences could be far-reaching – we are distorting our children’s very way of thinking!»

BNN had previously reported that the Administrative Cases Department of the Supreme Court of Latvia had viewed in April two pleas submitted by Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis against the city council. «The fact that the case will be viewed verbally and that the defendants include Ventspils City Council, EPRDM and Association of Local Governments is considered unique and unprecedented in Latvia’s court practice,» says Kristovskis.

Landmanis comments the situation the following way: «I do hope that with a sufficient amount of evidence and while located in a different geopolitical space than Russia we will be able to move forward. This court process is like a test. I think there are three possible scenarios from here. The first – the court may decline the plea and not submit it to Kurzeme Regional Court for repeated review because a deputy’s dispute with municipal administration cannot be viewed as part of an administrative process, but still accept environment ministry’s and Ventspilc City Council’s side-decision that is aimed at changing the usual discriminatory treatment of opposition deputies. This happened with Jelgava County Council two years ago.»

The second scenario mentioned by Landmanis included the commencement of another litigation – studying this matter at its core.

«The third, and the worst, is for the court outright denying viewing the case without any explanations,» Landmanis said, adding that any one of these scenarios would benefit deputies. He believes that once the rout’s ruling is published opposition parties will know for certain what they have to do, because they will be able to turn to court in the event of the third scenario. «We will provide proof for all instances we have recorded since 2005.»

Landmanis hopes the situation will be resolved in Latvia. If not, opposition deputies are prepared to consider turning to European Court of Human Rights. «For twelve years we’ve been gathering evidence. We have very strong proof – minutes of city council meetings detailing that our initiatives are to be tossed in the trash. We have extensive correspondence with environment protection ministries and other institutions that have confirmed the weakness of the law before mafia groups. It would have been hard turning to court without these documents. But our evidence base is strong enough for Latvia’s and international courts,» says Landmanis.


Leave a reply

Latvian minister: we should work with convicts, not isolate them

People who are currently isolated from society in prisons should not be kept isolated – they should be allowed to re-socialize, said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns at a press-conference about the study on former inmates’ abilities to re-socialize.

Brexit extension: Theresa May won’t as for more than 50 days

British Prime Minister Theresa May wants only a short Brexit term extension that will not exceed 50 days, as reported by The Guardian.

Business Index: 56.7% of businessmen in Latvia believe government hurt businesses

When asked about the influence Latvia’s government has on the country’s entrepreneurship, 56.6% of interviewed businessmen said the government interferes with the sector, whereas only 7.3% said the government provides assistance, according to results of Turība University’s Business Index.

Moody’s affirms Latvian energy company Latvenergo’s credit rating at Baa2

International credit rating agency Moody’s has affirmed the credit rating of Latvian energy company AS Latvenergo at Baa2 with a stable future outlook, as stated in Latvienergo’s announcement.

Teachers’ protest in Riga gathers 2,000 people

The protest act organized by Latvian teachers outside the Saeima building in Riga gathered approximately 2,000 people, according to Latvian public media.

Latvian Competition Council looks into scandalous «nano-water» case

The Competition Council in Latvia has acquired information regarding the so-called nano-water case, suggesting that municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme had taken part in a cartel agreement, coordinating an offer of one of the contenders and informing the company in advance of the happenings to ensure their victory in the procurement.

Latvian minister: EU cannot move away from multi-sided trade rules

The European Union cannot afford moving away from multi-sided trade rules, said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, participating in a meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels.

Latvian Prime Minister says MPC abolishment on 31 March may cost EUR 1 billion

If the mandatory procurement component system is abolished on 31 March, this could cost the country around EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian politicians fail to find a way to increase wages for teachers yet again

A day before teachers’ planned protest act Latvian politicians failed to convince Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees about the options to find money to increase wages of teachers this year. With that, teachers intend to go through with the plan to hold a protest on Wednesday, 20 March.

Latvia’s 2020 budget draft sent to the parliament for first viewing

On Tuesday, 19 March, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported this year’s state budget project and decided to submit it to the parliament for its first viewing. The committee decided to submit 14 additional legislative drafts associated with the budget, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Minister: Latvia needs representatives in EP the country can be proud of

«Latvian voters should keep in mind that Latvia is represented by only eight members in the European Parliament. It is vital to find candidates we would not be ashamed of. There is no other recipe – if you want to affect the composition of the European Parliament, it is important to remember that results from votes. Nothing will change if we stand on the sidelines,» said Latvian Culture Minister and MEP candidate Dace Melbārde in an interview to BNN.

Rigvir medication distribution in Latvia halted temporarily

Bio-technology company Rigvir has decided to halt distribution of Rigvir medication in Latvia temporarily, as confirmed by Rigvir Group CEO Kristīne Jučkoviča.

Finance commission’s head says Latvia has too many banks for its small market

It is clear there are too many banks for Latvia’s domestic market, said chairman of Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēteris Putniņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 19 March.

Latvian residents become more optimistic about government’s work

In one month’s time Latvian residents’ opinion of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government has improved, according to data from SKDS study.

Dutch authorities arrest Utrecht tram shooter

According to Dutch authorities, the man who opened fire in a tram in Utrecht, killing three and injuring five, has been arrested.

Parliament: Latvian universities should be among 500 best in the world

Latvia’s leading universities have a clear vision for the future. It is topical for continued development of the country’s education and science sector.

Latvian minister to request police investigation in public transport company

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has finished its analysis of the audit performed in municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme. Soon the ministry plans to ask law enforcement institutions to provide their opinion on whether or not there had been fictive employment or other violations committed by the company, as reported by TV3 news.

Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.