Saturday, July 22, 2006


Yesterday, I saw two news stories on Aivars Lembergs, the mayor of Ventspils:

Politics section: Union of Farmers and Greens nominates Lembergs as their candidate for Prime Minister
Crime section: Prosecutor's office charges Aivars Lembergs with bribery and money laundering

Lembergs has been banned from leaving Latvia without prosecutor's permission and may have to pay a bail of 1 million lats (1.4 million euros). It's a huge bail but Lembergs' personal wealth is in tens of millions of lats.

The timing of events is quite interesting. Most of the charges are about events that took place from 1993 to 1995. Prosecutors were not in a hurry to charge Lembergs while he was a mayor of a mid-size town. But, with Lembergs having political ambitions on a national level and election coming up in 2.5 months, things changed and old allegations are now prosecuted vigorously.

Lembergs is dismissing the charges as politically motivated. Well, the charges may not be politically motivated but the decision to bring them up now (after not trying to charge him in previous 10 years) probably is.

"Everyone investigating everyone on corruption charges" remains the main theme for October 2006 elections.

No comments: