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Wednesday 16.10.2019 | Name days: Daiga, Dinija

Ventspils City Council fever. Symptoms, treatment and preventive measures

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOpinion piece: Simona Šjadīte

The situation currently observed in Ventspils City Council is a rare type of fever caused by Aivars Lembergs. It is common knowledge that viruses can remain active and cause infection over a long period of time. This is the same in Lembergs’ case – he is officially accused of serious crimes, but he still remains in the organism where he is not welcome. It is because of this Ventspils is sick and remains stagnant and the city council does not have a legitimate chairman.

How is it possible to treat this fever and what preventive measures should be taken to prevent it in the future?

It is worth mentioning that Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce’s planned reform that provides for reducing the number of municipalities from 119 to 35 does offer some hope for the possibility of putting an end to dictatorships established in some municipalities.

With Ventspils, however, it seems the reform will not change the situation, because the proposed changes in Kurzeme are insignificant – there are plans to combine Viltspils with a municipality in which the chairman is Lembergs’ Union of Greens and Farmers member Aivars Mucenieks.

Pigs, political prostitutes and other present at Ventspils City Council’s meetings

It should be added that the law demands audio recordings from city council meetings to be posted on their official websites.

If you listen to the way city council meetings are held in Ventspils, you get the impression deputies gather at the market, not in an institution dealing with matters important for residents. On top of that, those present at meetings are generously showered with «Lembergs bacteria». Pigs, political prostitutes, Kivičs’ respectable invitations for fight night, heated of harsh words and unrelenting disregard and disrespect towards opposition deputies – this is the usual practice for Ventspils City Council meetings.

The fact that for years Latvia’s ministries have acted as though they are not aware of the situation in this city in Kurzeme is truly sad. Members of the city council are paid wages from taxes for this mess.

Ventspils has no chairman, no leader who could stabilize the situation or at the very least ‘reduce the heat of the fever’. This is because we have to keep in mind that the security measure applied against Lembergs – the prohibition to perform duties as Ventspils City Council – has been in force for ten years. Nevertheless, Lembergs still considers and promotes himself as the head of the city council.

Non-compliance with the security measure is punishable by deprivation of freedom. However, not in Ventspils’ case. Everything is organized – while Lembergs is suspended from his duties, his duties are performed by his trusty colleague from For Latvia and Ventspils political party Jānis Vītoliņš. However, audio recordings from Ventpils City Council meetings mostly feature Aivars Lembergs’ voice as the one dominating meetings. This is how seriously he has been suspended. Because of this, one gets the impression people in Latvia are free to employ practices that ignore the rule of law.

Lembergs’ current position outlines the extent of problems there are in Latvia when it comes to compliance with court decisions. In spite of the court-mandated prohibition, Lembergs remains the chairman of both Ventspils City Council and Ventspils Freeport. He even proudly states as much on his business cards.

A paradox – he is allowed to ‘host’ city council meetings in a city in which, according to the prosecutors, he is accused of committing serious crimes related to abuse of power, money laundering and other crimes. Criminal process materials compiled in more than 200 volumes – should a person with such ‘luggage’ be allowed to attend city council meetings?

This urges asking the responsible ministry a question – where is the political will to put an end to this situation and make Ventspils functional with a legitimate chairman? Is it really impossible to conduct business without Lembergs?

It is worth reminding that Latvia’s Constitutional Court has ruled: municipalities are NOT independent institutions – they answer to the Cabinet of Ministers.

This means all previous ministers who kept their eyes shut had and the current head of the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has the right supervise activities performed by municipalities, especially when opposition members leave complaints about violations on a platter.

For some time now BNN has been trying to contact minister Juris Pūce to ask him about the situation in Ventspils. However, after multiple invitations the minister has yet to agree for an interview.

Still, there is some hope that one day the ministry will finally notice the situation in Ventspils and deal with the fever that affects 38,059 people there.

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