PM tries to explain shunting staff of Rail Baltica project

Independent expert Kaspars Briskens, who was recently removed from the council of RB Rail, the company responsible for implementation of Rail Baltica project, has been given extra duties in the council of the Latvian national airline airBaltic, according to the explanations that Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis (Greens and Farmers) has provided to Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis (also Greens and Farmers).

Kucinskis told the press on Monday that instead of re-appointing Briskens to the new RB Rail council, following the removal of a Lithuanian member, Latvia chose to replace him with Vineta Rudzite, the deputy director of the Legal Department at the Latvian state-owned railway company Latvijas Dzelzcels.

The Baltic Institute of Corporate Governance has already criticized the move as inconsistent with good governance standards and detrimental for Latvia's reputation.

Lolita Cigane (Unity), the head of the Latvian parliamentary committee on European affairs, also wondered about the reasons for replacing Briskens with Rudzite in the RB Rail council.

The other Latvian representative in the RB Rail council is Edvins Berzins, CEO of Latvijas Dzelzcels. Now both Latvian representatives in the RB Rail council are related to Latvijas Dzelzcels, which creates a potential conflict of interest, Cigane said.

Both the Latvian transport minister and the Latvian prime minister insisted that the changes in the RB Rail council would not affect implementation of the Rail Baltica project for construction of the European-standard gauge railway line through the three Baltic states.

As previously reported by LSM, RB Rail is a joint venture established by the three Baltic states in October 2014. Each shareholder gets to appoint two council members.

The project is expected to cost around €5bn in total and aim to be ready by 2025.

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