Ameriks: Russian media siphoning Harmony’s electorate to extremist camp

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Andris Ameriks, Riga deputy mayor and co-leader of Harmony’s partner political party Honor to Serve Riga (GKR) said in a newspaper interview Wednesday that Russian media were influencing Latvia’s Russian-speaking electorate, bending them toward the Latvia’s Russian Union party led by MEP Tatjana Ždanoka.

Speaking to the daily Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, Ameriks said that in light of geopolitical realities Riga mayor and party chief Ušakovs was having trouble keeping his Russian-speaking voters in support of the nominally social-democratic party he leads “because there are the Russian mass media applying enormous pressure on the minds of Harmony voters and they are pushing this electorate in the direction of Ždanoka’s Russian Union.”

In his view, Harmony shouldn’t be having to compete for the part of the electorate that supports “non-friends of the Latvian state – like Ždanoka and company.”

He cautiously refrained from predicting a victory for Harmony that could propel the perennially shut-out left-wing into power. “I harbor no great illusions. I think the first take on forming the government will be resuscitating the current coalition. Only failing that will those in power perhaps look to alternatives,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an interview with national information agency LETA, Ušakovs himself admitted Wednesday that, as an ethnic Russian, he probably finds it “simpler to speak about practical affairs in Moscow rather than, say, Berlin or Washington.”

“I will also continue to do so, because it helps solve matters critical to the state and society,” he went on to say.

He also defended Harmony’s partnership relations with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, calling it “essentially the single political power there,” the only one with which there is a chance “in these difficult conditions to maintain a dialogue with Russia.”

“If we have the possibility of communicating with this power, that’s important,” he said.

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