No politics in Marsa Park trees, says Security Service

Take note – story published 3 years and 9 months ago

Last Monday, trees at the former bicycle track "Marss" were unexpectedly cut despite protests. Latvian Television reported September 6 that authorities involved had said this had nothing to do with politics and Riga City Council elections.

As previously related by LSM, thousands signed a petition calling for the run-down location to be made into a park in a part of the city without much greenery -- only for it then to be revealed that the State Security Service (VDD) had secret plans to build a new headquarters on the site. In May, protesters also took to the streets to save the park from the chainsaw.

One of the government's parties – the New Conservative Party (JKP) had spoken loudly against the VDD building in place of the former “Marss”. Neighborhood activists also joined, several of whom started in Riga City Council elections from various lists.

It is logical that the felling of the trees would cause resistance. A question arose - whether the VDD waited specifically for elections to pass so that the outcome is not influenced.

For example, JKP tried unsuccessfully to stop the project this summer.  If the trees were to be sawed before the council elections, the JKP could use this for benefit in their campaign.

At the same time, felling of trees during the pre-election could be turned against the “New Unity”. Its representative, Finance Minister Jānis Reirs, is supervising the State Real Estate (VNĪ) who are implementing the project.  Similarly, the rating of “KPV LV” could suffer, because the party's minister, Sandis Ģirģens oversees the Security Service.

Both Ģirģens and Reirs denied that they had been informed of the sawing of the trees. The authorities involved are distancing themselves from the elections.

“We have agreed all work with the customer [VDD], given that all necessary permissions have been received to complete the project in time. It was also taken into account that the bird-breeding season was over,” said Renārs Griškevičs, chairman of the board of VNĪ.

It should be noted that it was unlikely that the bird breeding season was the main reason why the jobs were not started more quickly, since the breeding season in Riga ended two months earlier - at the end of June.

The Security Service also did not mention more precise dates when the final conciliations for the start of work have been received. VDD argued, though,  that the assumption of hesitation due to the election is unfounded.

VDD Deputy Chief Executive Ēriks Cinkus explains that the wood sawing time was also determined by the possibilities of connected companies: “A number of merchants are involved in the construction process. We have no legal right to delay this decision. With arguments to wait for better time for the start of wood sawing, we create a stoppage that costs the country extra money. We're working on a pre-set schedule.”

The deputy chief of VDD considers that the beginning of the wood sawing was a “completely adequate period” and “there are no politics in this decision”.


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