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Wednesday 17.07.2019 | Name days: Aleksejs, Aleksis

Ventspils opposition lists Latvia’s government reasons to fire Lembergs

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUQuestionable payments to Ventspils Development Agency, breached prohibition to lead Ventspils City Council, ties with Business Development Association in which his wage nears EUR 200,000 – these rare but some of the reasons Ventspils City Council opposition has listed in its request to fire Aivars Lembergs sent to Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš and other ministers.

The opposition has asked the government to evaluate Ventspils City Council’s activities and ‘perform measures in accordance with the law in order to dismiss the current composition of the city council,’ says Ventspils opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis.

He says the letter sent to the government details fifteen of the most notable violations committed by Ventspils City Council. «There is the blatant ignoring by Aivars Lembergs the court-applied prohibition to perform his duties as chairman of Ventspils City Council. However, minority deputies are denied access to information. There is also the matter of the use of municipality’s resources and information channels by Lembergs and his associates. There are also frequent violations of work organization in the municipality. This includes formation of structures unnecessary for the municipal council. These structures only limit the rights of minority deputies, breach procedures of proper preparation, discussion and approval of the municipality’s budget.»

Deputies point attention towards the illegal use of the municipality’s, its capital associations’ and Ventspils Freeport authority’s finances for Lembergs’ personal needs. «For example, for years these institutions have performed payments to Ventspils Development Agency, where Lembergs is paid a very generous salary. Between 2007 and 2017 Lembergs was paid EUR 859,618.45 by Ventspils Development Agency,» says Aivis Landmanis.

He adds that a similar scheme is observed in Ventspils Business Development Association, in which Lembergs is paid nearly EUR 200,000 a year. However, for some unknown reason, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, State Police, Prosecutor’s Office and State Audit have yet to do anything about this.

Minority deputies say that during the current Ventspils City Council composition they had sent countless written and verbal requests for information about aforementioned payments to these organizations but no answers were provided. «This represents a conflict of interests and unlawful, wasteful and, maybe, illegal use of the municipality’s resources,» the letter states.

The letter written by Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Aivis Landmanis, Ivars Landmanis and Dace Korna was sent to Prime Minister Krišjāns Kariņš, Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce, Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns and Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits.

Deputies believe activities performed by Ventspils City Council do not comply with the Constitution and principles of a democratic Latvian state administration and rule of law. As a result of this, for years Ventspils City Council has been ruled by an authoritarian regime under illegitimate chairman Aivars Lembergs, says Aivis Landmanis. «Lembergs has managed to form an illegal regime that breaches the rights of minority deputies and differently-minded people to participate in the work of the city council,» the letter mentions.

Opposition deputies also stress that since autumn 2017 they have turned to law enforcement and courts on multiple occasions, submitting proof of the frequently practiced violations of state administration principles at Ventspils City Council. «As a result, at a joint meeting in November 2018 the Supreme Court’s Administrative Cases Department’s judges mentioned in their ruling on the situation in Ventspils multiple specific illegal and non-democratic administration and work organization activities. The Supreme Court’s Senate ruled the same in February 2019.»

«However, the heads of Ventspils City Council and the ruling majority of deputies there remain indifferent to those rulings and the municipality’s administration continues violating and limiting the rights of minority deputies,» comments Aivis Landmanis.

Deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis stresses that «Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has been kept informed about the illegalities taking place at Ventspils City Council for years. However, during the term of minister Kaspars Gerhards the ministry did nothing to prevent illegalities. At the same time, the ministry admitted that the work performed by Ventspils City Council does not fit good management principles and Latvia’s laws.»

«We hope Krišjānis Kariņš’s government will be able to cut the Gordian knot and prove Latvia is ruled by uncompromised rule of law. A situation when one of Latvia’s municipality is ruled by illegal political and administratively limiting authority that maintains demoralizing and anti-governmental ideology is unacceptable,» says Kristovskis.

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