Latvian party ends alliance with Moscow
Up to now the Harmony party led by Riga's Mayor Nils Ušakovs - widely considered a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin - has maintained a cooperation agreement with the Russian ruling party United Russia. Now Ušakovs has announced that he is ending his party's cooperation with United Russia. Not all commentators are willing to believe this.
The end of the honeymoon with Putin?
Latvijas Avīze speculates jokingly about Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs' motives:
“Is the years-long honeymoon with Putin really over? Was the welcome for the guests from Riga not warm enough on their last visit to Moscow? Perhaps the kvass was too sour or the mushrooms too pickled or the gherkins so bad they upset the mayor's stomach. ... Or has Mr. Ušakovs finally understood that things cannot go on as they have in the past and that his Nordic left-leaning party stands a better chance alone than it does in an alliance with United Russia?”
The wrong message to voters
Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins explains in Delfi why he considers his own party's decision to be wrong:
“The Harmony party has emphasised the relevance of dialogue with Russia. This was our strength. Naturally we could also talk to [Russian opposition politicians] Zhirinovsky or Navalny. But the decisions in the country are taken by the United Russia party. Closing this channel of influence would be short-sighted. Owing to its position on the Russia question the party repeatedly gained the support of its voters in the last elections, which shows that they are against building a new Berlin Wall on Latvia's eastern border. ... Cancelling the agreement between the Harmony party and United Russia would send the wrong message to voters”