Latvian Interior Minister resigns over Victory Monument controversy

Following criticism of the way events had unfolded at a Soviet monument in Rīga recently, Latvia's Minister of the Interior Marija Golubeva (For Development/For! political grouping) announced her resignation at an online press conference on Monday, May 16.

Golubeva said she had learned that Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) had bowed to an ultimatum from the National Alliance, one of the other parties in the four-party ruling coalition, as previously reported by LSM.

The National Alliance had indicated that unless Golubeva was dismissed, it would walk away from the coalition with less than five months to go until Saeima elections on October 1.

Golubeva said current events in the region make having a stable government more important than ever, and that this had informed her decision, but was critical of Kariņš for not waiting until a full report on events had been delivered and of the National Alliance for what she said was a move that was not in the interests of national security. 

"Taking this all into account, in order that national security should not be threatened by an unstable government, I have taken the decision to return to the Saeima," Golubeva said.

She also said that in effect the presence of only about three hundred "marginal" figures at the monument had managed to shake the Latvian government, adding pointedly: "Well, but that is the prime minister's responsibility."

It will now be up to her party to nominate a replacement to serve the remaining few months of the government's term of office. 

 

Following the announcement and a coalition meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said at a briefing that Golubeva's resignation was a responsible move, but that an 'unnecessary political shakeup' had taken place along with it. In this situation, to 'achieve political balance', National Alliance will have to change one of its ministers as a result of 'such an attempt to blackmail'. 

The National Alliance has been given two days to decide which minister to put up for resignation, but the Prime Minister has 'nominated' Economics Minister Jānis Vitenbergs. If the party does not decide, the PM will request Vitenbergs' resignation.

Golubeva, however, said that the Development/For! party would not ask for any resignations as revenge. Development/For! is ready to cooperate with Kariņš' government, but 'it doesn't mean we are ready at this moment, when Latvia really needs a stable government, to become those people that will destabilize this government even more', said Golubeva.

 

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