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Saturday 17.11.2018 | Name days: Uga, Hugo, Uģis

UGF leader confirms: Lembergs will not be proposed for prime minister post

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAivars Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes and is currently suspended from his post as chairman of Ventspils City Council, had proposed his candidacy for the post of prime minister of Latvia multiple times in the past. The moment has come at long last when Lembergs will not be an official candidate for the aforementioned post, as BNN was told by the leader of Union of Greens and Farmers’ Saeima faction Augusts Brigmanis.

The court process against Lembergs still continues – every weekday except Fridays. This proves that it would be awfully hard for anyone to combine the duties of a prime minister with the need to attend court sessions four days every week. It is still worth mentioning one instance that took place in 2006. Union of Greens and Farmers announced Lembergs as their official prime minister candidate on the same day as the prosecutor’s office announced raising official charges against him. At the time, Brigmanis explained this move by saying that «Lembergs has been in charge of Ventspils for years, and has proven his ability to resolve economic, social and integration problems».

Lembergs was this party’s official prime minister candidate in 2010 and 2014. It seems back then UGF did believe it possible to combine prime minister duties with regular court sessions.

In his interview to BNN, Brigmanis admitted that UGF has decided to keep Māris Kučinskis as its prime minister candidate for the future as well.

It is worth mentioning here that Kučinskis’ government is viewed very controversially. Some people believe Kučinskis «dances to Lembergs’ tune». In 2016, the now former Unity leader Solvita Āboltiņa had confirmed that at times it was clear the chairman of For Latvia and Ventspils Aivars Lembergs was in charge of the government formation process. Kučinskis claims this is not true. He says Lembergs does not stay quiet, but that does not mean he is the only voice that speaks.

Brigmanis says UGF has no plans to replace any of its ministers. «However, we should say that none of the ministers, including the prime minister, are irreplaceable,’ he adds. ‘The moment they start believing that they are irreplaceable we have to start thinking of their objectiveness. From what I’ve gathered from my colleagues, they understand this,» said Brigmanis.

It is also worth mentioning that throughout UGF’s government term, there have been multiple instances of politicians requesting dismissal of certain ministers from this party for improper performance of their duties. Following the publication of oligarch talks, several parties and Delna organization had sent a letter to President Raimonds Vējonis and Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, asking them to take responsibility for the future investigation of said talks. Delna had even requested dismissal of Agriculture Minister Jāņis Dūklavs and Transport Minister Uldis Augulis.

For the unclear situation in the country’s banking sector, opposition parties have even requested the dismissal of Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, saying that she had failed to prevent the decision from US Department of Treasury that turned out ruinous for the reputation of the country’s financial sector and humiliating for the government.

Brigmanis also says that opposition parties did not propose any solutions when they requested dismissal for those ministers. «If political powers such as the New Conservative Party or, I don’t know, any other party have nothing to do if they cannot propose solutions for this situation, if there is no vision for political and economic situation, only the call for heads to roll, then such parties have no future.» According to him, it is unclear where the leaders of those political parties were when the scandalous processes began in Latvia. «They had all the opportunities to initiate processes regarding different problems in the country. They had the information. What did they lack? Did they lack the capacity to present this information or did they lack the ability to do it? Now we see those processes have not gone anywhere,» says the leader of UGF’s Saeima faction.

It should be said that the leader of the New Conservative Party and former Justice Minister of Latvia Jānis Bordāns has intended to perform radical changes in state administration. Bordāns says his party’s goal is creating in Latvia a small and efficient state administration. To achieve this goal, NCP intends to reduce the number of ministries from 13 to 8.

Brigmanis mentioned in his interview to BNN: «We also have a couple of proposals. However, I think that people that have swapped more than three political parties should not be allowed to participate in Saeima elections. There are politicians that walk around and promote themselves as messiahs. They do this by putting emphasis on the same old problems – corruption. I have yet to hear anything specific from any of them in fields like economy, agriculture or healthcare. There is only one topic that has been explored so far, badly. And there are supporters of this topic, of course,» said Brigmanis. It can be concluded from this that party-swapping concerns Brigmanis more than the shadow of corruption looming over certain partners of his party.

As for why UGF continues working with Lembergs while he is accused of committing serious crimes, Brigmanis mentioned that «Lembergs’ image is that of a dual personality, and society views him differently. Nevertheless, we always return to survey results – he remains one of the top three most popular figures in the country.»

«All of us have to form our own opinions about him. Every person with an opinion about him is reluctant to change it,» says Brigmanis.

He admits that Lembergs remains a partner for UGF. After all, two of his party’s people, both Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola and, likely, Gundars Daudze will be on the top of his lists in Riga and Kurzeme. Brigmanis sees no problem with this.

Saeima members do not seem all that discouraged by the Prosecutor General’s Office’s corruption charges against Lembergs – bribery, abuse of power, document forgery, violations of restrictions, money laundering and reporting false information in official declaration.

According to Brigmanis, the court has to prove Lembergs’ guilt first. «With that, we cannot say we do not want to see and work with Lembergs,» he said.

Back to the topic of upcoming Saeima elections, Brigmanis mentioned that coalition talks will commence firstly with the National Alliance. «As well as Unity, although by doing so we do go against our own conservative belief, because they are a liberal party. One uniting factor is our common view on national development.»

When asked by BNN as to why UGF would not consider cooperating with Harmony, when this opposition party has voted many times in favour of results beneficial to his party, Brigmanis mentioned that his party is not led on a leash by the National Alliance. He admits that there have been votes in which UGF’s views had aligned with Harmony’s. «This coincidence is not about fundamental principles. Those were self-evident matters – knowledge, citizenship and matters regarding interpretation of historical events.»

It is worth mentioning what a former Harmony member, Vadims Jerošenko, had told BNN: «Cooperation between Harmony and Aivars Lembergs’ Union of Greens and Farmers has always existed. It existed even before Harmony first appeared in Riga City Council. The situation is the same in the Saeima, even though Harmony is in the opposition. Still, in situations when one or the other matter important to Lembergs appears, one does not have to be a great politologist to notice the ties between those parties. Other times it seems like Harmony is being used as Lembergs’ satellite party.»

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