Minister Pūce quits Latvian government over parking space scandal

He may have managed to steer through some of the most controversial and fiercely opposed legislation of recent times, but Juris Pūce, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development has handed in his resignation after falling foul of a parking space.

Pūce, leader of the 'For Latvia's Development' party was accused of still using a Rīga City Council parking permit even though these days he is no longer a Rīga council deputy.

"I sincerely apologize for my actions and I sincerely regret it. I have made a mistake and in the issue of parking spaces in Riga municipality, I have really made a very unsuccessful choice. I have misled my colleagues and Latvian society," the minister said in a statement.

The unusual scandal emerged after Riga City Councilor Māris Mičerevskis, a former party colleague of Pūce's accused him of using a parking spot he was no longer entitled to during an interview on LTV's 'One on One' show earlier this week.

The next day, Pūce denied trying to get a free municipal parking pass in Riga, claiming that correspondence with Mičerevskis on the subject was just a joke.

However Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš failed to see the sunny side and said he expected the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) to get involved this case.

Pūce has been under constant fire for well over a year as he pushed through a huge restructuring plan for local governments. Yet having been largely successful in achieving that aim, he appears to have been unseated by an unwillingness to pay regular Rīga parking fees.

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