Coalition party faces fine over election violations

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The Unity (Vienotiba) political party, one of three int he current ruling coalition, will have to pay a €4,000 fine issued by the Corruption Combating and Prevention Bureau for election spending violations, however, the party will not lose state funding.

The LETA new agency was informed by Riga District Court press secretary Raimonds Locmelis, Unity will be fined €4,000 for election spending violations committed during the 12th Saeima election.

The verdict cannot be appealed and immediately came into force when it was announced.

As LETA was informed by Unity's attorney in this case Lauris Leja, this means that the party will not lose state funding, but will have to pay the fine. He said that the party was initially accused of exceeding pre-election spending limits, but that Unity was able to convince the judge hearing the case otherwise.

Meanwhile, Unity's general-secretary Artis Kampars confirmed to LETA that the fine has already been paid. He also said that some running on Unity's ticket during the last Saeima elections did so in a ''non collegial'' way. He said that in the future those running on the party's ticket will have to sign an agreement not to breach the party's election regulations, and if necessary repay any and all losses the party might sustain due to their actions.

As reported, the Corruption Prevention Bureau last year concluded that Unity had not reported all of its election campaign costs, namely, several Unity newcomers from regional parties and the Reform Party had organized individual campaigns to gain voters' support.

Unity was not the only party whose election campaign costs did not comply with the law - the Corruption Prevention Bureau also fined Harmony, the Union of Greens and Farmers and other parties, but Unity had to pay the largest fine, €4,000.

The ruling is a further setback for a party that just one year ago was sitting pretty with Prime Minister Laimdoat Straujuma in charge and the whip hand in coalition negotiations after topping 2014 parliamentary elections.

However, in a series of seemingly suicidal moves, internal wrangles saw Straujuma resign and support for the party evaporate amid infighting. New leader Andris Piebalgs has said he is targeting 10% support in opinion polls by the end of the year, but the most recent figures suggest there is still a considerable way to go before that goal is achieved. 

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