Lembergs' political clout has diminished - PM Kučinskis

The political clout of Aivars Lembergs, the mayor of Latvia’s northwestern port city of Ventspils and leader of For Latvia and Ventspils party, which is a partner of the Union of Greens and Farmers, has decreased, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis (Greens and Farmers Union) said in an interview published in Ir magazine.

Asked to evaluate Lembergs’ overall influence with the Union of Greens and Farmers and the government, Kučinskis said that from the very beginning there was an agreement with Lembergs that the prime minister's government would be working and taking decisions independently.

The weekly meetings of the party board, meanwhile, is the format allowing each partner to voice criticism and engage in debates.

“There are no longer the wild formats we used to have previously. [Mondays] is the time [for debating], and he has been criticizing me quite a lot. Sometimes his advice has been good, but in most cases, it hasn’t. So what influence…” Ir quoted Kučinskis as saying.

“Heading the government and not being the one who takes decisions is not an acceptable model to me. So, it is the government that takes decisions,” Kučinskis underlined.

Repeatedly asked how Lembergs’ influence has changed, the premier said it had decreased.

Lembergs is a controversial figure who has been on trial charged with large scale graft for nearly a decade. 

Seen as a driving force of the Greens and Farmers Union political party, he has been mayor of Ventspils for two decades and has massive business interests in the city which have made him one of the country's richest individuals.

He was described as a national security risk by party colleague Raimonds Vējonis during Vējonis' time as Defense Minister. Vējonis is now president of Latvia. However, that reputation didn't stop Lembergs playing a leading role in meetings to select Māris Kučinskis as a Prime Ministerial candidate.

Lembergs has also constructed a large hill in the town for the recreation of residents in the shape of his favorite hat. He is renowned for his colorful clothes.

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