Corruption: Mayor of Riga sacked
Nils Ušakovs of the pro-Russian Latvian opposition party Harmony has been dismissed as Mayor of Riga amidst a corruption scandal involving the city's public transport company. The Environmental and Regional Minister Juris Pūce justified the decision citing "non-fulfilment of legal obligations and violations of regulatory requirements." How are Riga's citizens reacting to the news?
Parallel worlds in Riga
The bilingual website Tvnet did a survey among its readers that showed that 80 percent of Latvian-speaking readers favoured the dismissal whereas 70 percent of Russian readers opposed it. Riga is a divided city, the website observes:
“Do the Russians in Riga live in a fantasy world in which everything is coming up roses? Or do they simply expect less from life than the rest of the population? Their passionate support for the mayor has little to do with love for the city. It's simply the result of a decades-long targeted division of society that turned Ušakovs into a messiah for the city's Russian-speaking population within just ten years. ... This has nothing at all to do with the work the former mayor has done for the city.”
Don't crack open the champagne just yet
It's too early to celebrate the mayor's dismissal, Neatkarīgā points out:
“Ušakovs has been sacked! Complete strangers immediately clinked virtual champagne glasses on the Internet to celebrate the news, although it was no surprise either for them or for Ušakovs. However, for residents of the capital the most crucial question is a practical one: will Ušakovs' dismissal improve the work done in the city hall? Probably, yes, because Riga's management was not ideal. On the other hand Ušakovs' replacement by another person from the same party will only be window dressing with little practical impact.”