The Lithuania-registered Railvec company recently won a tender to deliver four trams worth €4,953,000 to the city of Daugavpils. The trams are made in the Tver railroad car plant in Russia, owned by the Transmashholding company.
Transmashholding is a well-known company that owns several arms factories and manufactures weapons like platforms for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The company is involved in Russian military orders, with its subsidiary Metrowagonmash manufacturing parts for the anti-air weapons Buk, Tor and Tugansk, while its Kolomensky Zavod manufactures diesel engines for Russian military submarines. It also owns the separatist-controlled Luhansk locomotive works.
Latvia's Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis is quite perplexed about Daugavpils' choice to purchase trams from this company, as the obligations between the city and the military factory won't stop at tram procurements. He says that there's a risk that local public transportation will be in thrall to the Russian manufacturer.
While Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis confirmed that the Constitution Protection Bureau has been informed but that there's no further information at the moment.
"There was a scandal about this in Lithuania, however. We'll look into the matter as soon as we have an answer [from the Constitution Protection Bureau]," he said.
The trams are to be purchased as part of a large investment into public transportation infrastructure in Daugavpils, Latvia's second largest city. The project has attracted €13 million in EU funding and is to be completed by August 1, 2023.