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Jelgava municipality mayor caught up in public indecency scandal

Questions about ethics have been raised by a recording posted on social media from a meeting of the Budget Commission of the Jelgava Regional Council, which was joined remotely by the chairman of the council, Madars Lasmanis. The video shows Lasmanis in a car rather obviously touching a woman in the backseat. Lasmanis denies all allegations of public indecency, Latvian Television reported on March 21.

The recording of the February 13 meeting shows the mayor making hand movements behind his seat for more than 7 minutes.

Lasmanis said the recording was a defamation campaign, claiming that the woman in the car was his wife and that no sexual touching had taken place.

Lasmanis: "I don't know what you mean by what happened in the work car. The meeting of the Budget Committee of the City Council, which I chaired, took place in the car."

LTV: "And the touching of the woman in the back seat in the video?"

Lasmanis: "The woman in the back is my wife, I don't know what kind of touching you are talking about. I have my hand behind the seat, and it is possible for everyone to imagine, in their own degree of filthiness, what is going on behind the seat. I am saying that there is no touching. But that is your interpretation."

LTV: "You said that there was no touching of a sexual nature, but yet your wife was in the back with her shoes off, with her leg up, and you were connected to the council meeting remotely from your work car, is that a common practice?"

Lasmanis: "Not usual practice, I just followed the next meeting, I didn't have much time for that. There were urgent issues at the meeting. Maybe this is a lesson not to organize meetings in a hurry in the future. But I wanted to do better in the council."

Some politicians and officials of the Jelgava municipality have already requested an assessment of possible breaches of ethical norms. Līga Lonerte, the executive director of the municipality, has told the MPs that she believes that Lasmanis has substantially violated norms.

Meanwhile, Lasmanis informed LETA that he would propose Lonerte's dismissal "in response to suspicions of deliberate, substantial and systematic irregularities in the work of the municipality's executive director, Līga Lonerte, in arbitrary handling of public property and municipal funds".

Lasmanis noted that he had prepared and submitted to the Jelgava County Council a draft decision on the dismissal of the Executive Director.

According to Lasmanis, the Executive Director has abused the powers of her office. She allegedly changed the remuneration of municipal employees and interfered in the performance of the duties of the representative of the holder of the municipal capital shares. In February 2024, Lonerte went on leave arbitrarily, in violation of the Labor Law, without obtaining approval from her immediate supervisor. The Executive Director also failed to comply with the provisions of the Law on Prevention of Embezzlement of Public Funds and Property by using municipal property for private purposes, for which the municipality had received a request from the KNAB, according to Lasmanis.

"I have been trying for several weeks to resolve the issue without unnecessary fuss and publicity, unfortunately this was not successful," Lasmanis writes.

At the next council meeting on March 27, the deputies will have to decide whether to support the draft decision on Lonertė's dismissal.

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