Harmony backs Ušakovs fully following search in Rīga City Council

Harmony, the party lead by Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs, backs him fully during a criminal probe that on January 30 saw Ušakovs' office and home searched by anti-corruption officers, it told the press January 31.

Harmony issued a statement on Facebook claiming that yesterday's searches by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) are were in fact political actions on the part of "a nationalist party", a thinly veiled reference to the National Alliance.

"We think that these actions are a politically motivated attempt by a single party to change the outcome of the election. That was what this national party openly said earlier during its congress," the announcement reads.

This refers to a bill to sack the Rīga City Council that former Environment Minister Kaspars Gerhards (National Alliance) started pushing after his party told him to during a congress.

 

Meanwhile Environment Minister Juris Pūce (Development/For!) told LTV January 31 that the mayor's decision not to resign is harming the city.

"Currently, the Rīga mayor, by holding onto his seat, is causing serious problems to the city," said Pūce. He said that the Rīgas satiksme municipal company will have to re-finance loans that it has taken.

"A situation in which there's a search in the office of Rīga mayor creates, for lenders, serious doubt over whether the recipient of the loan can be trusted," said Pūce, inviting Ušakovs to resign. 

"I call on Ušakovs not to exaggerate his place in history,'' Pūce quipped in response to Ušakovs' claim that it's currently very important to keep the council running, and therefore he shouldn't step down. 

Opposition councilors at the Rīga City Council have collected signatures for holding a vote of no-confidence against Ušakovs. 

Likely, but not certainly, the January 30 searches are related to the ongoing investigation over corruption in the Rīgas satiksme municipal transport company, because the KNAB revealed later that the searches concern an ongoing criminal probe. 

Ušakovs has not received formal charges and remains in his seat. 

KNAB said that, as of now, no one has been arrested, and that more detailed information is to follow as soon as revealing it won't harm the investigation. 

On December 11, 2018, KNAB employees searched an office at the Rīga City Council as part of a criminal probe over multi-million tenders in the Rīgas satiksme municipal company. 

Eight people were detained in Latvia and abroad, including a Rīga City Council official. The case prompted the resignation of Rīga vice-mayor Andris Ameriks.

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