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Maverick Saeima deputies' marriage of convenience proves short-lived

Independent Saeima deputy Julīja Stepaņenko announced June 30 that she is terminating her cooperation with the recently-formed "Law and Order" party in Saeima, criticising the communication style of its leader.

Stepaņenko was formerly a longtime deputy with the Harmony party, then left it, then signed a cooperation agreement with it, then went solo again, and more recently signalled her support for the latest project of populist Saeima deputy, and one-time brief prime ministerial candidate for the KPV LV party, Aldis Gobzems. Stepaņenko became a board member of 'Law and Order' in January.

Stepaņenko announced the severing of her ties with "Law and Order" in a Facebook post. 

"The values ​​I represent are incompatible with the communication style of my colleague Aldis Gobzems with the party members and founders. I don't want to pretend that everything is in order and regular public communication that offends people is the norm," she said. 

Without being more specific, this appears to be in reference to a recent social media post by Gobzems in which he smilingly posed in a powder-blue sports casual outfit adorned with a yellow Star of David, claiming that his stance against Covid-19 restrictions meant he deserved comparison with Jews under the Nazi regime.

His post was widely condemned from all other parts of the political spectrum.

Gobzems responded to the news of Stepaņenko's departure by claiming on Twitter that she had yesterday told the party board she was a family friend of businessman-cum-politician Ainars Šlesers, regarded as one of Latvia's so-called "oligarchs", who recently announced his own intention to make a political comeback in 2022.

Regardless, the departure of Stepaņenko will likely greatly reduce the amount of time 'Law and Order' members speak in Saeima debates. As previously reported by LSM, Stepaņenko and Gobzems can generally be relied upon to be notably more talkative than other Saeima deputies. 

Nor is this the only setback for the new Gobzems-centric party. Another board member of 'Law and Order', Karīna Sprūde, was fined by the Polish authorities for failing to declare the purchase of an expensive Rolex watch from Switzerland while transiting at Warsaw Airport. The incident also attracted criticism on the basis that, with lockdown in place, flying to Zurich to buy a Rolex could hardly be considered essential travel.  

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