Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Revert to the October 23 Saeima meeting

A week ago I promised to come back and translate speech of the Latvian MP from the governing coalition member Fatherland Union party (TB/LNNK). Here is the link to the whole October 23, 2007 session (http://www.saeima.lv/steno/Saeima9/071023/st071023.htm), and during this very session the opposition in the Saeima demanded resignation of the incumbent government. So, I did translate a speech of the demagogue into English, and I hope you can establish the profile of an average Latvian MP now:)

J.Dobelis (Fatherland & Independence Party Union(TB/LNNK) fraction).

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament and Mr Prime Minister! Honourable colleagues!

I have an interesting dcument in my hands that is signed by rather strange people - Repše, Rubiks, Kalniete, Buzajevs, Pliners - and also some others. I have a question - what do all these people have in common? The common aspect is very easily found- it is to destroy, to unleash and to level down! (voice of the MP J. Pliners from the hall of the parliament: „We are for the rule of law!”)

And therefore I have a legitimate question, who are they, – those folks who call the nation to mutiny? And who can cut profit from all this? Is today's event taking place because of will, or simple and empty exhibicionism, and ones "EGO" showdown?

The start of all this is to be found where it was - unsuccessful participation in the 9'th Saeima elections, unsuccessful participation and failure to form the government, waste of monies entrusted to them, and nothing other than that.

I want to remind here, that right after the election of the 9'th Saeima "The New Era"(JL) representatives announced: "Government should be formed by three fractions, JL of course, Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), and People's Party (TP)!" Check it out in the old newspapers, who and when said that.

Regardless of the fact, that shortly prior the elections to the 9th Saeima JL left the coalition government, it wants to be part of the the government again. Just have a look into this hall! How many ministers are sitting here - one, two, three, four, five, six… At least I see thus many of them right now. Therefore, (the voice of the MP V.Orlovs from the hall: „Knoweth how to count!”) they want to be in the government again? Aye?

What did happen next? Bickering, accusations, and devious exhibitionist behaviour continued throughout the year. Just not in actual work, just not in labour.... What we see here is an open wish to replace existing government with other faces. And nothing other than that!

I would not say that governing coalition work was flawless. Of course it was not! The only question here is - what was the attitude about those mistakes of the government? What was the reaction about these mistakes from the side of the opposition? They just called the society to mutiny! Nothing other! Nothing rational! No serious negotiations!

Very characteristic example of all previously mentioned was the referundum in the July 2007. And you got "kicked in the ass", really kicked! (the MP S.Kalniete: „No! There you were kicked in the ass!” from the hall) Only 20 % of the electors came to this consultative referedum. A bit more than twenty percent… Even from the required threshold, that was needed, you were short of about 120 thousand votes. Hundred twenty thousand!

You are boasting now with 3, 4 or 5 thousands, but in July 2007 you lacked 120 thousand! You have somehow forgoten that… But citizens of the Republic of Latvia clearly showed, that they are not agitated by empty shouts, and do not trust calls for mutiny. And I thank them for the fact that they could show their resolve.

Further they tried to find many other opportunities. We came to the presidential elections. Perhaps we could remember, with what kind of faces many of those then and even now stand next to the Saeima? And what are those folks doing now, who then threw mud on the president Valdis Zatlers? What are they doing now? They are calling him, they approach him, they plead him to dissolve the parliament, they beg him… Now, the president is God to them, when they have lost the battle. Now, Mr Zatlers, its seems to them is a good person after all. Finally! Finally they understood.

However, the most despicable thing is, that we see the same producers, the same so called NGO's, and the same humanoids at the helm regardless of the occassion, whether its being the pride, the demonstration, or whether they speak about Loskutovs (the head of ther anti-Corruption unit. translator's remark)… Perhaps soon they will speak about another rusky, Buzajevs, but demonstrating are still the same folks. The same names all the time!

Therefore, why is it so? What are those demontrators proposing? Are they proposing any solution? What are they shouting? – „Down! Out! To throw out! To throw away!” and even crazier. The most laughable event took place last Thursday, when one of the well known MP's ...I do not know, whether he had syringe injected in his spine somwhere there… jumped on the stairs and started shouting: „To dissolve the Saeima! To disband the government!”, while himself being the MP. So, I have question here - why are you sitting here? (Applause.) Give up your mandate! And it became even funnier, when yesterday, some of the most active demonstrators said that this hotspur had destroyed the good demonstration atmosphere (laughter in the hall.) Thank you very much for that! I said, that it was a provocateur sent out by us. (laughter in the hall).

Now I want to shortly summarize the event of last Thursday. I really feel sorry for those folks who came to demonstrate with honest intentions. But how did many others look like? I remember them for the last twenty years since gathering around „Zīgerists toilets”. Most were the same folks. They have not learned anything during those twenty years. Thus, they are persons who are purposefully dragged around in order to create chaos in the society.

And this continued use of name „nation”! Be careful, because every one of us is a little part of the same nation, including us. Each and every one of us has one voice, and not more. Please do not forget it!

Now we have come to the plan of today – day before passing next year's budget to fire the government. Fantastic idea, isnt it? It means, that budget of the next fiscal year might even not be passed, because we already have heared critique here… What would it mean for the future? It means, that until January 1 we would not see any other budget. It means, that the minimum level of subsistence would be left unchanged at the present level. And it means that the minimum wage, that is raised from 120 to 160 lats (it means we have 40 lat increase) we would not pay from January 1. It would mean that we would be paying only 1/12 from the last year's budget.

What does it all mean? It really means maddening of the folks who have suffered the most.

About additional reason. Not the government is the real cause of this riff raff. The reason is more serious here – Saeima and something else. About that madam (the Ambassador of the US Catherine Todd Bailey, translator's remark), who taught us in the University how to live, there is a curious interest in the United States. And for God's sake if the result of that interest should be published and become known to the Latvian public. Then it will become very, very interesting. It could specifically take place after the elections of the next US president. And then you all would be pleased to learn about something new.

Therefore I could say that,: „Honourable proposers of the bill (proposing the demise of the existing government, translator´s remark)! I do understand that this is the new model of the government, only who gets what ministerial position is another issue here…”

But perhaps we could think about one issue, if that issue is still important and dear to someone. You had your show off! You have scribbled whole essays here, so, even cant even simply speak without using your notes. Thus, you have seriously worked last nights… Perform duties that you require today, and pass the budget tomorrow! And then work with the budget in the second reading with your own proposals! And that will be your real labour, because until now there are no real and rational proposals from the opposition, we have not received also „the model of the shadow cabinet” or something similar. Until now we here only currents of blatant words - „down”, „to disperse”, „out”, and „out of the doors”. We come to the situation when some even utter such words as: „To dissolve the parliament!” I am repeating you once more! I offered you the option: give up your mandates, and Saeima would become unworkable! I just doubt that you would do this.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday Song Fest?

Today's Diena announced that all Latvian choir singers and conductors are asked to participate in the "national convent" of the Noveber 3, 2007. The planned mass rally gradually increseases signatories who assure their participation in the event, and it looks as if the scenario of the late 1980's and early 1990's is going to be repeated. It is not surprising because organizers of the November 3'd event are pretty much the same as during the early 1990's.

The event would also continue the action started by Trade Unions. The latter started to collect signatures (10 000 signatures needed) for initiating amendments in the constitution, thus allowing also 1/10 of the citizens to initiate possible dissolution of the parliament. So far Trade Union representatives have announced, that they have collected a bit more than 2000 signatures, but it seems that the saturday event would allow to fulfill the required benchmark.

The event itself would be a massive demonstration with ethnic Latvian opposition politician's and intelligentsia speeches and joint repetition of the traditional Song festival repertoire. As I already said before I would wish to see also Reconciliation Centre party members if not as organizers then at least active participants of the event this coming Saturday. Without Reconciliation Centre party representatives, speeches about democratic governance and rule of law would be half baked, because it would exclude part of Latvian citizenry.

If the event would gather more than 10 000 participants it would give the incumbent president a food of thought for decisive action, because pollsters show that the rift between governed and governors in Latvia is insurmountable. NOBODY even discusses negative aspets about the existing government (old Latvian prowerb says "that you mustn't talk negative about deceased"), and the PM himself would be in Washington DC during the event to take place this Saturday.

So, we should have a simple Song Festival a'capella or it would initiate maturing of the Latvian civil society? I am not so optimistic about maturation in thus short time, because the level of education about basics of democratic participation has not significantly changed so far (just look on the constant number of 30% or so swing voters prior all election in Latvia). It means that without understanding, that just to be against the existing governance style, is not enough for more rational governance style to be eatblished in Latvia. If citizens should continue to be passive and allow more ambitios to be their representatives it would merely replace the existing elite. The maturation of Latvian citizenry is at stake here. I very much hope that the event in November 3'd would not stay in the memory of its participants as a spontaneous Song Festival, but it would consolidate reform minded citizenry and thus enable the same reform minded citizens to cognisize that they must take part in running the demos for making participatory democracy to work.

P.S. The 2008 budget should be passed in the second and final reading on November 6, and it seems more like mission impossible, and would most probably seal the fate of the existing government. The public radio just announced that the Saeima legal commission has decided, that it should be the government and not Saeima, that would need to pass their judgement about the fate of the head of the Anti Corruption Agency, Mr Loskutovs after all. Huh, huh, and the vicious circle continues:)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Interregnum continued....

It is really funny to listen the PM uttering his pronouncements about returned stability in Latvian government, when about 13 000 people might arrive to Riga the coming Saturday to demonstrate AGAINST the iresponsible and utterly cynical governance style of the present governing coalition. With overheated economy, two digit inflation and current account numbers, and outpuring workforce government offers situation when three ministers must perform tasks of two employees (minister of Finance also works as Regional affairs minister, minister of Culture tries to curate foreign affairs, and minister of Justice also tries to cope with Latvia's fledling economy).

In the meantime "Latvijas Fakti" pollster announced latest opinion polls. The question asked was: "what party you would vote for, if elections would take place today?"

Party August September October
Reconciliation Centre 11,1% 9,4% 12,5%
New Era 7,2% 7% 11%
Union of Greens and Farmers 10,9% 11% 6,4%
People’s Party 10,3% 12% 4,8%
TB/LNNK 2,9% 3,7% 4,6%
PCTVL 4,9% 5,7% 3,8%
LPP/LC 3,9% 4,1 % 2,7%
Have not decided 23,3% 21,2% 31,4%
Will no participate 16,5% 19% 17,1%

According to this data only one member of the governing coalition, the Union of Greens and Farmers might squeeze into the parliament (experiencing the fall of -4,6 percentage points). TP, TB/LNNK, and LPP/LC are morally bancrupt and the MOST DRAMATIC fall has experienced TP - minus 7,2 percentage points! Common, Prime Minister, does not this number teach you something??

The increased number of swing and alienated voters shows that the time is ready for a new political party. Former minister or Regional Affairs is trying to consolidate dissatisfied members of the political elite around himself, and he has even contacted the former president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga. Shall see how his business evolves, because there is a still a whole week to go until the mass rally in the November 3, 2007.

Aye, I almost forgot to say that just prior the weekend started the Prosecutor's office announced that former speaker of the parliament (Indulis Emsis) was fined for giving false statements to the judiciary. The first member of the "list of stipend receivers" has fallen from grace, and there are still very many MP's and ministers waiting for judiciary to say its last word.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


It looks like ages to wait till old government exits and new one comes in. It is the PM who still believes that he is "the sole guarantor of stability in Latvia". Other members of the governing elite play their political games. Trade unions collect signatures for initating referendum for the constitutional amendment that would give the right for the 1/10 of the electorate to initate dissolution of the parliament. Other members of civil society and opposition parties prepare for the demonstartionin November 3.

There will be a new government. MP's opine about erudition of the Latvian constitution founding fathers, but they forget that at the time of writing Latvian constitution (prior 1921) 2/3 of Latvian population was pretty much traditional agricultural society. Significant changes too place ever since and I am therefore positively inclined that the required 10 000 signatures would be collected.

The list of persons who signed the appeal for rule of law and democracy in Latvia and who will be at the forefront in November 3, 2007 reveals that it is predominantly ethnic Latvian affair. Even though JL and SC cooperated as opposition in the parliament now they would not come up together in the demonstration, because among signatures I did not see main figures of SC (Nils Ušakovs, Sergejs Dolgopolovs, Jānis Urbanovičs) there. Thus, the demonstration would be a spiritually elating venue indeed, but it would be more of a letting steam off than constructively offering alternative to the possible government, that is fiercely put together among Latvia's ruling clans now.

Actually in this situation the bst option for the People's Party (TP) would be to offer Helēna Demakova as PM candidate. She would be the first female PM (a fancy fame for latvia in foreign media), and she does know languages. After all, she would be able to push the library, concert hall and museum of modern art through the parliament after all. Because she is a women several possibly extraordinary steps would be tolerated by her TP peers and she could act independently then and also start bullying Latvian transport supremo. Shall see and enough for today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Counting the days left...

How many days are left for the PM in the office? Because of the continuous agony of the existing coalition nobody knows the answer, unfortunately. So, while PM and MP's blame everyone around them for causing the instability, they do not see the main cause for dissatisfaction among broad smathes of society. Yesterday morning there were 200 protesters in the morning, and at the end of the day when budget was passed in its first reading with 55 AYE's there were already 2000 people protesting (many trade union representatives)according to LETA news agency. Transparency International sister organization Delna announced that they will stop demonstrating in front of Saeima and would concentrate their activities for the mass rally on November 3'd.

Yesterday the Anti Coruption Agency (KNAB) published the final report about Latvian 2006 parliamentary election campaign financing in Diena. Those of you willing to read exact numbers could reach it at http://www.vdiena.lv/lat/politics/printed/tp_valstij_vareetu_naakties_atdot_pat_virs_miljona_latu_lpp_lc_ap_ls_600_000 . In nutshell the report clearly states that leading coalition members, Peoples's (TP) and First Christian (LPP) parties have exceeded the legally allowed threshold ( Ls 279 631,20) by Ls 529 980,54 (189,53%) and Ls 401 610,26 (143,64%) respectively. IN ADDITION both parties received illegal donations (Tautas partija Ls 555 430 & LPP/LC Ls 18 055,97 ). Both parties (TP leader Kalvītis among them) already announced that they will try to overrule the decision of the KNAB in court. In yesterday's TV interview TP leader announced that the final decision of the Senate of the Supreme Court in Latvia as of November 3 is not binding to him, and that they would overrule it (Uhhhh Mr Kalvitis, you should better read that the final resolution of the senate reads NAV PĀRSŪDZAMS (it CANNOT BE OVERRULED!!!). The senate of the Supreme Court in its last years decision clearly stated that the third party advertisements helped TP and LPP to be elected. The full text of the decision of the Supreme Court you may find at (http://www.politika.lv/index.php?id=12558 ).

Allright, here I must stop now, because my students want me to be prepared for lectures as well and during last couple of weeks I feel, that this ongoing agony of governing coalition takes considerable amount of my precious time. In the meantime I am happy that my information helped more people to open eyes to what is really going on in Latvia (many thanks to those encouraging messages and e-mails!). Shall try to be as effective as possible and if you do not hear from me, then knoweth that I am busy while preparing students - future agents of change:)

Agony forever

The sheer size of open and subtle breeches of contitutional norms in Latvia shows how distant an average mindset of the Latvian political elite is from an average mindset of any mindset of the political elite in the West, South and North from Latvia. When governing coalition wants to achieve their goals as set in their party programs it is obvious that tactics of political blackmail and propaganda is used within confines of the constitution. In this country understanding of commonly accepted rules, legal norms and laws are breached at will. Opposition parties remind the governing coalition that nobody should be above the law. Ironically just behind the PM there is the latter message in Latvian in the government council hall - 'viens likums, viena tainiba visiem'. MP' s from the governing coalition parties throught their advisors cum PR geeks respond that they have the mandate to pass the law, thus inherently saying that they make laws just for themselves!

The distance between the governing coalition and the citizenry was exemplified yesterday in the TV evening news again. Famous composer Imants Kalnins (MP-TB/LNNK) smugly considered those 5000 members protesting against illegal suspension of Mr Loskutovs in front of the Saeima as mere unintelligent herd brough there by some foreign conspiracies. Imants Kalnins, Raimonds Pauls (MP-People's Party) and other members of intelligentsia in power are prime examples of the post totalitarian governing elite coopting them into government. On the other side there is intelligentsia who is smugly against any government, and unfortunately there is nothing in between.

Agony of the present elite continues and I do not see any reconciliation possible after, thus many examples of ministers and MP's forget that they are representatives of their electors and openly laugh about stupid voters. The political crisis in Latvia continues and Transparency International local organization Delna has opened series of small demonstrations in front of the parliament, for raising public avareness about the endemic corruption in Latvia (they had around 200 protesters today). Trade Unions started collecting signatures for making constitutional amendments, thus giving a right for the 1/10 of electors to initiate disbursement of the parliament. Presently only the president is endowed with such a capacity. In addition, there is next huge rally in support of democracy in Latvia coming.


Next rally to defend democratic governance in Latvia would convene on November 3 in the Dome square. Cappuccino revolution or continuous agony of the crony capitalists in Latvia until peaceful Christmass is the nexus of political raison d'etre today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

United by scare

Baiļu koalīcija

Axel Reetz, Dr. , Veiko Spolītis, politologi

18.oktobrī pie Saeimas demonstrējošie pieprasīja valdības atkāpšanos un aicināja prezidentu atcelt Saeimu. Nenogurstošās diskusijas interneta diskusiju telpā un visaptveroša neapmierinātība ar politiskās elites piekopto absolūto nerēķināšanos ar opozīciju kombinācijā ar ļaužu straumēm, kas aizplūst uz Īriju, atgādina vēsturē notikušas pārmaiņas. Pašlaik notiekošais ir kā spoguļattēls 1991.gada notikumiem, vienīgi Sarkanās armijas un to ģimeņu vietā aizbrauc Latvijas cilvēki, protestos pret bijušās nomenklatūras piekopto interfrontes politiku tagad tiek protestēts pret tiesiski apšaubāmi ievēlētās valdošās koalīcijas "buldozera" stila politiku. 1991.gadā nesteigties ar neatkarības izsludināšanu aicināja Mihails Gorbačovs, un pagājušo otrdien Latvijas Universitātē par Latvijas valstiskuma trauslumu atgādināja ASV vēstniece Latvijā. Iespējams, ka tā ir sakritība, bet diskusijas par robežlīgumu, drošības likumu pieņemšana un neskaitāmu pērkamu politiķu tiesu darbi notiek vienlaikus. Pēdējā gada laikā Latvijas masu saziņas līdzekļos atspoguļotais viedoklis rada šķietamu sajūtu par Latviju kā unikāli korumpētu valsti. Tomēr, lai kā arī to nevēlētos atzīt normatīvi ideālas politikas pielūdzēji Latvijā, ir jāatgādina, ka korupcijas skandāli notiek arī citās valstīs. Tāpēc arī pastāv demokrātiska režīma varas instrumenti, lai izvairītos no korupcijas. Piemēram, Valsts prezidentes Vairas Vīķes Freibergas veto Satversmes 72.panta ietvaros bija zīme, ka konstitucionāli Latvijas demokrātija pastāv. Tomēr ar to arī formālā demokrātija Latvijā beidzas. Bez konstitucionālajiem principiem šodienas demokrātijās tikpat nepieciešamas ir arī vērtības un normas, kas veicinātu pilsonisko līdzdalību un ierobežotu varas turētāju vēlmi uzurpēt varu.

Šādu normu un vērtību izpratne piemīt Rietumu demokrātijas uzbūves būtību izpratušiem Latvijas iedzīvotājiem, un nevar noliegt, ka pārsvarā gadījumos tas ir noticis Rietumos iegūtas izglītības ceļā. Latvijas iedzīvotāji nekad nav bijusi viendabīga ļaužu masa, lai arī kā totalitāru ideoloģiju pārņemtie pārstāvji vēlētos to nemitīgi uzsvērt. Pēdējos gados Latvijā ir atgriezušies Rietumos izglītotie iedzīvotāji. Viņi ir izglītoti par tirgus ekonomikas un demokrātijas pamatprincipiem un šādi saprot demokrātiskas valsts spēles noteikumus. Pretstatā tradicionālām un patriarhāli audzinātām ļaužu kopām, kuras nesaprot indivīda nozīmi demokrātijā un balstās uz čomu būšanu privāto interešu aizstāvēšanai vieglprātīgi pieprasot stingrās rokas nepieciešamību, sakārtojot valsti, liberāli noskaņotie saprot ne tikai savas tiesības, bet arī pienākumus pret valsti. Ir baisi novērot sabiedriskajā transportā patriarhālo uzskatu paudēju domas par "pilsētas ar rītdienu" sakārtošanas autora kontrastēšanu ar Šķēles prastu žulicību vai arī par Vladimira Putina veiksmīgās politikas slavināšanu, "izceļot Krieviju saulītē". Zināšanu trūkums par demokrātiskas sabiedrības funkcionēšanas mehānismiem un starptautiskajā politikā notiekošo ir graujoši visaptverošs. Šādi Latvijā varam novērot diktokrātijas iezīmes. Proti, lai arī formāli mehānismi demokrātiska režīma pastāvēšanai pastāv (konstitūcijā nostiprinātas brīvības, brīva prese), valsts pārvaldīto un pārvaldāmo regulējošās normas un vērtības raksturo diktatūras esamību. Latvijā eksistē vairākums apātisku pilsoņu, aktīva, bet vēl mazskaitlīga pilsoniska opozīcija un diemžēl par Rietumu demokrātijas fundamentālajiem principiem neizglītota politiskā elite, kura akli seko patriarhālu uzticību pieprasošam partiju vadoņu diktātam.

Kopš Lemberga aizturēšanas neviens no koalīcijas partneriem nav reaģējis vai centies komentēt notikušo. Šodienas koalīciju satur kopā bailes no valdības krišanas, kas nozīmētu viņu nepārtrauktas labklājības vairošanas beigas. Budžeta pieņemšana ir lielākā pārbaude šai baiļu koalīcijai. Iespējams, ka vēstures ironija atkārtojas, jo reiz jau Kalvītis aicināja balsot pret Tautas partijas sastādīto valsts budžetu un šādi gāza prombūtnē Itālijā esošo I. Emša valdību 2004.gadā. Tikai nākotne rādīs, vai Latvijas valdošie politiķi spēs rīkoties atbildīgi un izteikt neuzticību valdībai caur negatīvu 2008. gada budžeta balsojumu, vai arī Latvijā turpināsies varu uzurpējušās elites mokpilnā agonija.

Gadījumā ja Saeimas vairākumu apvieno nevis kopējas vērtības par tiesisku valsti, bet gan bailes, tad Latvijas iedzīvotājiem ir jāliek pēdējās cerības uz Valsts prezidentu Valdi Zatleru. Valda Zatlera ievēlēšanu aptumšoja politiskās elites noslēpumainā kandidāta izvirzīšanas procedūra un Tautas partijas biedra Lagzdiņa zīmīgais žests pilsoniskajai sabiedrībai. Tāpēc, dzēšot demokrātiskas vērtības apzinošās sabiedrības neticības paliekas par Valda Zatlera politisko neitralitāti un sekojot aukstam politiskam aprēķinam, Valdis Zatlers varētu uzņemties valstsvīra cienīgu politisko atbildību un sākt prettiesiski ievēlētās Saeimas atlaišanas procedūru, šādi iegūstot valstsvīra laurus un neviltotas sabiedrības simpātijas.

Latvijas valsts patriotiem, iztēlojoties ārvalstu reakciju par ārkārtas vēlēšanām Latvijā, varētu nepatikt valsts tēla negatīvais atspoguļojums. Tomēr līdzīgi notikumi Lietuvā 2005.gadā, kad Lietuvas Seims sāka prezidenta Rolanda Paksa atstādināšanas procedūru, pārliecina par demokrātisku vērtību pakāpenisku nostiprināšanos Baltijas valstīs. Šādi Lietuvas iedzīvotāji ieguva pārliecību, ka pretlikumīgi politiķi tiek saukti pie atbildības, un šādi veicināja Lietuvas iedzīvotāju ticību demokrātiskam režīmam. Līdzīgi Lietuvas parlamenta deputātiem rīkojās arī viņu poļu kolēģi. Polijas Seima raibais koalīcijas vairākums izira, un Polijas Seims bija spiests sevi atlaist, šādi liekot Polijas prezidentam izsludināt ārkārtas vēlēšanas. 21.oktobrī notikušās vēlēšanas Polijā parādīja, cik pamatoti ir Rietumu demokrātijas vērtību pārstāvošā Donalda Tuska pārmetumi par Kačiņsku dvīņu patriarhālo pārvaldes nesavietojamību ar ES valdošajām vērtībām. Polijas vēlēšanas ir zīme par Austrumeiropas politiskās kultūras eiropeizāciju.

Slīgšana beztiesiskuma muklājā un varas leģitimitātes zudums vairākumā Latvijas iedzīvotājos pamudināja savu runu teikt arī ASV vēstniecei. Latvijas ilgtspējīgai attīstībai pēc dalības ES un NATO ir nepieciešama ilgtermiņa attīstības stratēģija, bet pašreizējā valdošā koalīcija nav spējīga šādu stratēģiju piedāvāt, jo tos vieno īstermiņa intereses jeb, citiem vārdiem sakot, bailes zaudēt savu krēslu. Ir izstrādāts Nacionālās attīstības plāns, bet nav novērojams nekas, kas liecinātu par tautsaimniecības struktūras un izglītības sistēmas maiņu. Diemžēl, bet nacionālā kopprodukta pieaugums uz vienu iedzīvotāju gadā (11 procenti 2007.gadā) neatspoguļo, ka šis procents pieaug, arī pateicoties no valsts uz Īriju izbraukušo iedzīvotāju skaitam.

Latvijā notiekošais nenorisinās atrauti no pasaules notikumiem. Polijas ārkārtas vēlēšanas, Rumānijas un Bulgārijas valdību krišana, Beļģijas konstitucionālā krīze un Čehijas nespēja izveidot valdības koalīciju ir daļa no globalizācijas izraisītajiem izaicinājumiem Eiropas Savienībā. Pašreizējai Latvijas politiskajai elitei ir iespējas novērtēt savu darbu Eiropas kontekstā un pašattīroties izvēlēties ilgtspējīgas un demokrātiskas valsts attīstības stratēģiju. Šādi Latvijas politikas elites pārstāvjiem, ņemot piemēru no 1949. gada Vācijas Federatīvās Republikas konstitūcijas veidotāju streitbare Demokratie (kareivīgās demokrātijas) principa, derētu iegaumēt, ka politiskajai kultūrai nebūtu jāapdraud valsts demokrātiskie pamati. Pretējā gadījumā Latvijas politiskā elite nolemtu Latvijas valsti Krievijas pievārtē esošas nedemokrātiskas tranzīta republikas liktenim.

Latvijas valdošās koalīcijas rindu sakārtošana pēc vēsturiskā 18. oktobra piketa, kad zīmīgi šajā pašā dienā VDR diktators Ēriks Honekers 1989.g. atkāpās no amata, notikumu atskaņā patlaban rada mākslīgu stabilitātes sajūtu valstī. Patiesībā Latvijā pie varas esošā politiskā elite ir neatgriezeniski bankrotējusi, ja jau pat Tautas partijas gaišākie prāti atšķirīgu iemeslu dēļ ir spiesti pamest valdību. Tāpēc pie Saeimas sapulcējušos pilsoņu un viņu līdzgaitnieku iedrošināšanai nobeigumā vēlamies pievērsties ASV vēstnieces Ketrīnas Todas Beilijas aizsāktajam un šādi citēt bijušo ASV prezidentu Ābramu Linkolnu: "Dažkārt var visus apmuļķot, un dažus var vienmēr apmuļķot, bet nevar visus vienmēr apmuļķot."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Agony of the existing governance system (updated)

The Saeima is just about to start its session. Yesterday, opposition New Era (JL) and Reconciliation Centre (SC) parties initiated vote of no confidence against the existing government. Fatherland Union (TB/LNNK) party announced that they would not support the motion prior passing the 2008 budget. The present political elite is thoroughly rotten. President and Mr Kalvītis still reiterate, that there is a need for stability in Latvia and I guess that they are simply blind or outright stupid. Therefore, my question to the political leaders is - for whom there is a need for a present stability when citizens are demonstrating already??


The master demagogue Juris Dobelis (TB/LNNK) is just NUTS, and I wonder how come rationally thinking person could elect such a cloun... Shall have to come back later to his demagoguery whilst using Seaima records and TRANSLATE it for you to see the prime example of skewed mindset. Other member of TB/LNNK Pēteris Tabūns was not a better option..........brrrrr.....how wide is the canyon between the governing coalition living in the bubble and ordinary citizens..........MP's of the governing coalition should go back to school!!!

It is 10:35CET and Saeima just voted with 56 NO's against the motion of the opposition. The voting machine of the governing coalition still works impeccably and NO RATIONAL arguments could shake their stance. I am was amazed to hear that also TB/LNNK member Anna Seile has not understood how the bsic principles of paliamentary democracy work.

It means that the existing government still continues its work and tomorrow there is a first reading of the 2008 budget vote in the parliament. ONLY the scare to lose their seats motivates the Saeima majority voting machine to work gainst their own principles and pushes this country deeper into the political crisis. There will be demonstration in front of the parliament tomorrow and whilst seeing blatant demagogery and ABSOLUTE lack of ANY arguments of the governing coalition members there is no wonder that citizens are demonstrating in front of the Saeima and demand its dispersal.

P.S. I believe that Diena MUST publish records of the governing coalition member speeches in the parliament in full extent to open eyes and see what kind of brainless creatures decide our and our children's future!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sic transit gloria mundi

LETA just announced that the PM accepted resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Artis Pabriks after all. Minister of Culture Ms Demakova would be his replacement for now. Last Friday it was the wife of the former PM Kristiāna Lībane-Šķēle who publickly announced that the budget for the next fiscal year is more important than the political future of Mr Kalvītis. I consider these announcements as a sign of quick agony of the present government coalition. Now the only question left is whether the PM shall step down after Wednesday's voting on next year's budget or even earlier?

Mr Kalvītis was uttering the news about offers from campanies after he leaves the office for a month now. Does it mean that Latvian PM would step in the same shoes as Gerhard Shroeder and Goran Persson?

Anyway, the future of incompetent PM is not really at stake in the rapidly changing world. What shall take place next is really at stake here. Latvian constitutional system is solid, but it lacks western liberal values and norms in its political culture. First, after the snap elections there would be the sense of justice returned for the members of civil society in Latvia (because October 2006 elections were stolen from them, and look into the decision of Latvian Supreme Court as of December 6, 2006). After snap elections of the new parliament titanic efforts will be required from the party leaders of the existing opposition and probably newly founded political forces. Namely, it is not enought just to acquire power and promote party political elite, because political parties must be also active in nurturing active civil society through education their electorate, thus preventing collapse of the constitutional democracy! Latvia still struggles with the inertia of post totalitarianism and lack of civic activity, and there is no other way to tackle it that education campigns by the governing elites.

If the events would follow such scenario it would be a very good news not only for the Latvian civil society, but also Latvia's Baltic neighbors and the Baltic Sea area countries. As much the post-Soviet patriarchal elite in Latvia is concerned there is no way they could manage with their traditional governance style any further. Now, when privatiation of country assets is almost over (that enriched famous Latvian A-Team godfathers), and the competitive environment would require them active labours securing Latvia's long term prosperity in the multi-lingual conditions of the EU it is only obvious that the incumbent elite must exit. Advisors, journalists and finally even the US ambassador was reminding the present governing elite, that their value system is wrong. This week there is the time of reckoning and to finish today's blog entry there is no better concluding statement than : "so passes away the vainglory"

Quiet before the storm?

The incumbent president Zatlers after meeting the PM on Friday announced that Mr Kalvitis convinced him the ability of the existing government to govern the state. Basically the same words were reiterated by the former president Guntis Ulmanis in his Latvian TV evening LIVE news: 'Mr Kalvitis is a young person who must admit his mistakes, reevaluate his behaviour vis-a-vis Mr Loskutovs and continue governing'. It shows that both presidents HAVE NO CLUE what legal principles and responsible governance means (Mr Kalvitis breeched the law AGAIN and it was underlined by Prosecutor General requesting PM to explain why did he do so). The governing gang of Latvia Ltd. continues best governance practices of the CPSU. The latter actually never accepted itself committing mistakes, because it was the 'vanguard of the most progressive part of the humanity'. It is very sad, that the Soviet inertia has blurred Latvian citizenry' ability to comprehend how the representative democracy really works, and foremost, what does it mean for MP or minister to take responsibility for his/her actions.

The gang of Latvia Ltd. TRULY believes that there is democracy in Latvia (''all roads to hell are covered with golden cobblestones'' says old Latvian prowerb)! The reason why they believe in it, is because their political advisors (PR geeks actually:) keep repeating it to them, and because without knowledge about fundamentals of Western liberal democracy (just seeing the facade of it in numerous foreign visits demivered to them by official translators), they instead of cognisizing it have only evaluated workings of the liberal democracy to follow the arguments of Almond & Verba (Civic Culture, 1975:16). Just to mention pronouncements of two MP's after the demonstration in front of the saeima is enough to underline my argument. It was Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS)member Janis Strazdins who argued that the demonstration was organized by opposition funded by foreign spies who actually wanted to taint the good name of Latvian democracy. Other ''pearls'' came from the Head of the Saeima Internal Security Commission Mr Jaundzeikars (LC/LPP) and composer Imants Kalnins (TB-LNNK). The former accused the crowd in front of the Saeima for being merely idle and suggested them to better go and start working. The latter suggested that demonstrators in front of the Saeima is a sign that it is beneficial to some foreign power to project Latvia as a country where democracy does not operate properly. Such pronouncement are not news anymore and make me reckon, that the majority of Saeima members should be simply sent back to school and learn the basics of how modern democracies work.

So, we actually can name Latvia dictocracy, because constitutionally (on paper) Latvia is a functioning democracy. However, from the point of view of contents (norms, values), there exists a dictatorship of oligarchic wannabe aristocrats popularly called also oligarchs in Latvia! Discussions within elitist pocket parties barely take place due to the lack of knowledge about basic precepts of their ideological platform. Instead, party members blindly follow dictums of their founders which obviously caused discontent among broad and liberal swaths of Latvian citizenry, and that eventually brought the folks in front of Saeima this very Thursday.

The ones who pull the strings in parties have regrouped and incumbent president announced that next week shall be hard for the Latvian government. Next Thursday the Saeima wants to pass the budget. Opposition Reconciliation centre (SC) and New Era (JL) parties have announced that they would not support it, and coalition gangsters have accused opposition in irresponsible opportunism. If the budget is not going to be passed nothing tragic would happen, just to look how Belgium works for example today. The budget voting should be used as a trigger for the vote of no confidence of the existing government. To unbundle the existing coul de sac the option for the incumbent president would be actually to disband the parliament.

Valdis Zatlers has reiterated that he wants to become the president for all of Latvians (his election breached norms of democratic governance though). If there are members of presidential chancellary who could deliver him such message it would be good. While disbanding the parliament he would establish his place in Latvian history books and also avoid the country dissolving in front of his eyes. Issues at stake for the president are rather simple - either he shall be remembered as a statesman who had a courage to stand up against the nomenklatura clan and so free Latvian citizens from vestiges of crony capitalism, or he would be mentioned in annals as a corrupt doctor who did not have courage to stand up and so allowed the country once called Latvia to go down the gutter. Choice is yours Mr President!

P.S. For those of you considering my appeal to the incumbent president overblown I would remind to follow latest announcements of the PM and reaction of foreign media about Latvia. First, just month ago the PM has openly stated that Russian and Latvian cultures are traditionally similar, that Latvian and the US relations could be reasessed, and he would not allow resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Mr Artis Pabriks) prior finalizing the Russian-Latvian border agreement (I would suggest that Artis Pabriks quit the People's Party after such an insistence of the PM). Second, apart from media in the Baltic Sea area, International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg.com, FAZ.de, Reuters none of the Continental European (except www.faz.de), British media and international credit agencies (except Bloomberg) have come up with Latvian news yet. What are they waiting, for the storm to happen?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Estonian press about Latvian developments

Mitu tuhat valitsuses pettunud lätlast takistas seimi saadikute teed tööle

19.10.2007 00:01Vahur Koorits, Postimees Evelyn Kaldoja, Postimees

Viha lokkava korruptsiooni, semupoliitika, oligarhide võimutsemise ja valitsejate ülbuse vastu tõid seni ükskõiksena püsinud lätlased tänavatele peaminister Aigars Kalvitise valitsust kõigutama. «Zatlers, saada seim laiali!», «Rahvaerakond on katastroof» ja «Tagane, õnnetu valitsus!», teatasid loosungid kella kaheksa ajal hommikul parlamendi juures seisnud umbes 5000 meeleavaldaja käes. Nad avaldasid meelt valitsuse otsuse vastu vallandada korruptsioonitõrje büroo juht Aleksejs Loskutovs.
Protestijate ridades seisid teiste seas ka mitmed populistliku opositsioonierakonda Uus Aeg kuuluvad poliitikud – näiteks endine peaminister Einars Repse. Selleks, et parlamendisaadikud tööle pääseksid, läks vaja kümnete politseinike jõupingutusi.

Tagasi aastas 1991

Meeleavaldusel käinud Riia Stradinsi ülikooli politoloogiaõppejõud Veiko Spolitis märkis Postimehele, et enamiku intelligentsi ja opositsioonierakondade täielik eiramine on viinud tagasi 1991. aasta algseisu, kus inimesed näevad, et riik varastatakse neilt nina eest ära.
Spolitise sõnul on päevapoliitiline märk juba see, kui USA saadik pidi esinema ja lätlastele selgitama, et nad ei tohi eirata väärtusi, tänu millele nad saavad olla ELi ja NATO liikmed lihtsalt kolme oligarhi pärast, kes parteides niite tõmbavad.
See näitab, et tavalised diplomaatilised kanalid on end juba ammendanud.
Jutud sellest, et USA suursaadik Catherine Todd Bailey kavatseb teisipäeval Riias Läti Ülikooli aulas esineda üsna karmisõnalise kõnega Läti poliitilisest olukorrast, hakkasid ringlema juba eelmise nädala lõpus.
See tähendas, et teisipäeval oli juba mõnda aega enne kõne algust aula nii täis, et turvamehed lasksid algse idee kohaselt ennekõike tudengitele mõeldud ettekannet kuulama vaid kutsetega inimesi.
Kohale saabunud diplomaatilise korpuse esindajate, poliitikute, ühiskonnateadlaste ja tudengite ees rullus lahti kõne, mille sarnast lätlased pärast taasiseseisvumist lääneriigi diplomaatidelt kuulnud polnud.
«Nüüd, vaid kolm aastat pärast ELi ja NATOga liitumist, leiab Läti end olulisest ajaloolisest sõlmpunktist. Mis saab olema tema tulevikutee?» küsis saadik. «Kas Läti jätkab reformide ja õigusriigi tugevdamise teel, suurendab läbipaistvust ning arendab end edasi vaba ja demokraatliku riigina?»
«Või otsustab Läti, turvaliselt ELis ja NATOs, et on raske töö ära teinud, ja laseb riigil saada üksikute inimeste mänguväljakuks, kuhu need suunduvad enda ja oma sõprade taskuid täitma?» jätkas Todd Bailey.
Saadik tõi ka konkreetseid näiteid asjadest, mis tema arvates ei peegelda just lätlaste ja ameeriklaste sarnaseid väärtushinnanguid.

Poliitilised grupeeringud

«Katsed täita kohtuid kohtunikega, «kes teavad, mida teha», püüded muuta julgeolekuteenistusi puudutavad seadused selliseks, et nende operatsioonidesse on võimalik rohkem poliitiliselt sekkuda,» loetles ta, «avalikud kampaaniad selleks, et diskrediteerida justiitssüsteemi ja õigusriiki.»
Todd Bailey märkis ka seda, et ta soovitab praegu USA firmadel Lätisse investeerida tänu selle suurepärasele ärikliimale ja headele tulevikuväljavaadetele.
Samas hoiatas ta, et peab vastama küsimustele ka selle kohta, kas investeeringud on kaitstud ja kas Lätis äri ajamine tähendab pidevat altkäemaksude andmist ning kas seal on toimiv õigusriik.
Saadiku sõnu selle kohta, kuidas Läti poliitikutele jagavad juhtnööre «valimata ametnikud pilvedest või merelt» tõlgendas Läti meedia viidetena vastavalt Rahvaerakonna ühele juhtpoliitikule Andris Skelele ja sadamalinna Ventspilsi meerile Aivars Lembergsile, kes on praegu korruptsioonisüüdistuse tõttu koduarestis.
«Lätis peame rääkima oligarhide parteidest, mis on turu omavahel ära jaganud» selgitas Spolitis. «Ühelt poolt võime rääkida Ventspilsi grupeeringust, teiselt poolt endise peaministri Skele grupeeringust ja sellele lisaks kolmanda väiksema oligarhi, praeguse transpordiministri Ainars Slesersi grupeeringust.»
Spolitise hinnangul süvendavad kriisi mitmed asjaolud, mis takistasid rahval riigi tegevuse vastu protesteerida. Näiteks loodi Lätis õiguskantsleri institutsioon alles sel kevadel ning kodanike sekkumine otsustetegemisse on siiani olnud harv.
«Ei olnud võimalik riigi toimimise vastu apelleerida. Kõik need asjad on jäänud Lätis tegemata ja nüüd valguvad nad päevavalgele ja tekitavad praegust revolutsioonilist olukorda,» lahkas Spolitis.

Diplomaadi sirgjoonelisus

Läti Ülikooli politoloogiadotsent Janis Ikstens tunnistas Postimehele, et kuigi ta ei tunne diplomaatilist protokolli nii hästi, et otsustada, kas Todd Bailey kõne oli midagi sobimatut või ei, oli saadiku sõnum vaieldamatult väga tõsine.
«See näitab ka seda, et USA saatkond on ammendanud tavalised diplomaatilised võtted – inimeste lõunale või õhtusöögile kutsumine, nendega rääkimise,» nentis Ikstens. «Sest me pole midagi sellist enne kogenud. See oli esimene kord, kui USA või üldse mõne lääneriigi suursaadik nii avameelseks muutus. Lääneriigid on tavaliselt madalat profiili hoidnud.»
Poliitikateadlane tõdes, et Vene saadikute puhul on selliseid väljaütlemisi küll kuuldud, aga neile ei pöörata nii väga tähelepanu.
Läti välisminister Artis Pabriks väitis pärast suursaadiku kõnet uudisteagentuurile LETA, et Todd Bailey kõne oli sõbralik, avatud ja vabariiklikus vaimus. Küsimusele, miks ükski valitsuse liige pilgeni täis aulasse saadiku juba varem kõmu tekitanud kõnet kuulama ei jõudnud, vastas Pabriks sõnadega: «See oli igaühe isiklik vaba valik.»
Ikstensi hinnangul on Läti poliitika märkimisväärselt alla käinud just viimase aasta jooksul, pärast mullu oktoobrikuus toimunud valimisi.
Ühe näitena tõi Ikstens pärast valimisi kohtusse jõudnud vaidlused. «Kohus tegi ühe väga veidra käigu ja ma ei oska seda muudmoodi nimetada kui poliitiliseks otsuseks,» jutustas politoloog. «Põhimõtteliselt öeldi, et tundub küll, et kaks erakonda on ületanud kulupiiri, kuid valimistulemusi ei pea tühistama, sest pole näha, et need rikkumised oleksid valimistulemusi mõjutanud.»
Üks neist parteidest, mille tulemusi Eesti rahas ligi 11 miljoni krooni suurused ülekulutused kohtu hinnangul ei mõjutanud, oli valimised võitnud Rahvaerakond.
Ikstensi sõnul oli see esimeseks väga halvaks signaaliks otse pärast valimisi. «Pärast seda nägime katset määrata ombudsman’i kohale üht väga ebasobivat kandidaati, kes kukkus läbi,» jätkas ta. «Ja siis valiti konstitutsioonikohtusse paar väga kummalist inimest. Siis tulid avalikuks need kurikuulsad telefonivestlused. Ja nüüd näeme me Loskutovsi afääri.»
Põhimõtteliselt on kõik juhtunud vaid ühe aasta jooksul. «On palju asju, mille pärast tuleb muret tunda,» nentis Ikstens. «Loomulikult toimuvad kolme aasta pärast valimised, aga seni...»
Spolitise sõnul ootavad lätlased nüüd peaministrit. «Võib-olla astub ta juba homme tagasi. Tundub, et ka koalitsioonis on lahkarvamusi, kas ta peaks tagasi astuma või ei» sõnas ta. «Tundub, et enamus on arvamusel, et Kalvitis on ka neile endile ja nende hüvede säilimisele liiga suureks probleemiks. Kui mitte homme, siis esmaspäeval astub valitsus kindlasti tagasi.»

Kalvitis sõitis koju

Eile Portugalis Euroopa Liidu riigi- ja valitsusjuhtide mitteametlikul tippkohtumisel viibinud Kalvitis otsustas visiidi pooleli jätta ning kodumaale naasta. Samas teatas ta ka seda, et kui parlament tuleval nädalal Loskutovsi ametist ei vabasta, astub tema tagasi.
Spolitise sõnul paistab praegu, et Loskutovs jääb ametisse. «Kui mitte, siis see toob kindlasti kaasa rahvamasside väga laialdased tänavateletulemised,» pakkus ta.
Läti parlament arutab Loskutovsi vallandamise soovi järgmisel nädalal, president Zatlers märkis, et sellest kujuneb ühtlasi ka valitsuse usaldushääletus.

©1995-2007 Postimees

End of elitist democracy? (updated)

Minister of Regional Affairs Aivars Štokenbergs was thrown out of the People's Party (TP) in absentia. In the TP council only Minister of Foreign Affairs, Artis Pabriks voted against such motion. To protest against his colleague's "execution" Mr Pabriks resigned from the post of Foreign Minister. Who could predict that end of just two days ago rock - solid governing coalition and TP would come to such a fast end? The speed of events is extraordinary but not surprising, if one looks retrospectively on Latvian domestic politics since October 2006. It was obvious to me that such coalition government cannot sustain its life forever. But I am still positively surprised about quick coming of an end.

Such development of events allows me to predict resignation of the PM today and possibly snap elections. Government coalition cannot be held together based on common interests - self-enrichment- because common values prevail over the temporary interests. Coalition partners repesent radica, traditional, conservative and liberal ideas, thus it is only obvious that it is falling apart in front of our eyes. Coalition Council should convene in an hour and most probably after the council meeting PM should resign.

Does it ring in the end of elitist democracy in Latvia? I very much hope so, because those 4000 people who came yesterday in front of Saeima is a sign, that spell of welfare oblivion is broken. However, the future of citizen's activity is very much in hands of opposition parties. If their activities would constructively lead to snap election it would really end the elitist and oligarchic emocracy in Latvia.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Artis Pabriks is talking on public radio and reiterates the news, that PM did not accept his resignation. To me suspicios news is the fact that PM has reminded the minister of foreign affairs that he must finalize the Latvian-Russian brder treaty exchange of documents. Does it mean that stability of the governing coalition was based on special agreement with Russia?
Koalīcija vienojas par budžetu, steigsies ar tā izskatīšanu


It is 15:00 CET and the coalition council meeting just ended. Governing coalition has agreed to pass the budget next Wedneday and then start discussions with trade unions. Weird not to say more, because rational way would be to have three party discussions (government, trade unions and employers confederation) within budget preparation process. LETA announced that budget is planned with 1% surplus. Latvian transport supremo Ainārs Šlesers announced that the wage increase could take place while curtailing the budget surplus. Policemen, teachers and doctors trade unions demand wage increase. Iresponsible government has lived to the point when they fight inflation by raising salaries to state officials. These policies are incompatible and government can blame itself for the lack of legitimacy, because nobody forced them to forge elections and usurp the power. Therefore, the end of present government saga would come next week right after there is high possibility for Saeima not to be able to pass next year's budget.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Capuccino Revolution (updated)

It was a rainy morning in Riga and regardless of the early hour around 3000 to 4000 Latvian citizens gathered around the Saeima to protest against stealing the democratic state away from them. There is a flicker of hope and revolutionary fervor in the air. Because the peaceful demonstration ended prior cafe's opened the only place open was the French bakery next to the Riga military baracks. To drink capuccino amidst elated souls who came into bakery and see people getting in from the rainy street and taking hoods (capucco in Italian) off made me think about the name of the popular movement - CAPUCCINO REVOLUTION!

The PM already announced from Lisbon that he would not back off due to the popular pressure, and it would mean that popular pressure shall only increase. Just talking with ordinary citizens around Saeima made me realize, that it is a revolutionary awakening among the Latvian public. Naked cynicism of the political elite in yesterday's Kas notiek Latvijā? TV show was the last drop in the chalice of endurance. The show exposed how distant the governing elite is from an average voter. Arguments about suspending the head of the Anti-Corruption agency Mr Aleksejs Loskutovs were phony, and except Prosecutor General none of the government members had any tangible arguments. The most ironic issue with government suspending Mr Loskutovs was, that the only legal expert (Prosecutor general) was against his suspension, but legal amateurs, who did not really have arguments about his guilt still managed to vote against his mandate.

The Minister of Interior Ivars Godmanis admitted that PM and Mr Loskutovs could not work together, thus the reason why government voted almost unanimously (with Mr Broks abstaining and fired from his post immediately) was the fact that two gentelmen could not work together. Thus, Mr Godmanis admitted that after governmental vote the only option for future coexistence of Mr Kalvītis and Loskutovs is leaving the decision to Saeima, thus admitting, that if Saeima votes against government's motion then government must fall. Huh, huh, it is a tangible result from the situation just couple of days ago, when the coalition looked rock solid.

Opposition New Era (JL) and Reconciliation Centre (SC) parties demanded non-confidence vote on existing government today. Parliament was not ready to vote the suspension of Mr Loskutovs today. Members of the governing coalition have come out with admission, that the government of Mr Kalvītis is a liability, but asking to wait for PM to come back from Lisbon (he is flying in on Friday, October 19 at 22:00).

Prelude of the Capuccino Revolution already passed. It is important for opposituion JL and SC to coordinate their work and press the president to disband the parliament, because metamorphosis of the existing MP's into a new governing pack would lead nowhere. For managing the overheated economy and overhauling Soviet education, healthcare and public administration systems legitimacy of political system is needed. It is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve such tasks with the parliament where 11 members have been accused in corruptive deals by KNAB, when People's and First Christian parties illegaly "bought their votes" and stole elections in October 2006.

I believe capuccino is tasty enough for majority of Latvian citizens. Thus, be vigilant citizens, and after Saeima is going to be dispersed by president (unrelenting pressure of opposition parties and active involvement of citizenry needed) freedom loving citizens can deservedly allow to have a Capuccino Party!!!


It is 15:00 CET and http://www.diena.lv/ just announced that Latvian PM is cancelling the informal EU heads of states meeting in Portugal and returning back to Riga. President unexpectedly called People's Party (TP) and Union of Greens and Farmers to consult them for possible new premiership. It means that coalition has written incumbent PM off and government falls. The question is about new prime minister and there are miryad of candidates. Roberts Zīle (MEP and TB/LNNK) could be a good candidate, but would he be willing to give up tranquility of French rural surroundings for government overhaul of Latvia? His premiership could be the only hope for TB/LNNK to survive as an independent entity. Other coalition members do understand it and would TP reconcile the loss of premiership and possible bankruptcy of the party next week with their junior coalition party member (who actually screwed them by not accepting the position of the Minister of Economics) becoming PM, I doubt so. There are thus many disagreements among the coalition members, that dispersement of the Saeima is a lot more predictable outcome, even if it will take a depressingly long time. Eventually, time constraints (passing next year's budget) could actually make dispersing of the parliament a swiftly a'la cafe expresso!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Disagreements in the governing coalition? (updated)

LETA just announced that Fatherland Union (TB/LNNK) nominated Einārs Cilinskis declined the offer and would not become the Minister of Economics in the government of Aigars Kalvītis (People's Party). The announcement most probably reflects yesterdays speculations about the fact, that he was nominated in return for positive TB/LNNK vote en bloc against Mr Loskutovs in Saeima tomorrow. This is just a first crack in the governing coalition, but it could lead to the positive voting outcome in Saeima after all. "Waking up" of TB/LNNK is too late and pollsters show that they have no chance to cross the parliamentary threshold if elections should take place today. Thus, was the TB/LNNK tactics to wait till the public opinion boils over and then come as saviours in hitting the last nail into government's coffin, thus earning additional brownies? Dont know, but late the announcement came.

If TB/LNNK decision to recall their Minister of Economics nominee is coordinated party decision then it shows, that there are splits within TB/LNNK. It means that in tomorrow's voting process one cannot arithmetically subtract 8votes from 59 member majority in the parliament. Also two members of the Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), Messrs Visvaldis Lācis and Leopolds Ozoliņš cannot be counted. The first one announced that he would vote against suspension of Mr Loskutovs, and the second member of ZZS is on sick leave. After Madam Ambassador speech yesterday it was People's Party member Vaira Paegle who behaved diplomatically, thus could also she abstain from brainless rock solid governing coalition behaviour?

Diena editor Sarmīte Ēlerte has called citizens to come to the Saeima building and follow the voting procedure of Latviam MP's tomorrow. I am definitely going and perhaps there will be more folks than during passing the budget in the first reading. Only God knows whether government might fall after slight possibility of aborted vote of suspending Mr Aleksejs Loskutovs from the position of the head pf the Anti Coruption Agency?


LETA announced (11:00 CET) that President Valdis Zatlers considers the decision of the government as too harsh and that puts the head of Latvian government under severe test(http://www.apollo.lv/portal/news/72/articles/111314). The incumbent president called up MP's to vote in tomorrow's vote of no-confidene reasonably, thus serving interests of all voters, and not just few chosen ones. I hope that the president understands consequences of his statement, because abortive vote of no-confidence would authomatically mean the fall of the existing government. The latest data of SKDS pollster shows that 62,1% of population does not trust the government and the 65,6% definitely harangue about the work of the parliament. http://www.delfi.lv/news/national/politics/article.php?id=19234167

Disagreements in the governing coalition are becoming louder, and I would not be surprised, if there would be even more members of the governing coalition deciding to leave the sinking ship today (wondering, what is my classmate, Minister of Justice Gaidis Bērziņš still contemplating:). What else should the passangers of the delapidated Ms Latvia expect, when the captain (the PM) has left the ship actually for an informal meeting of the EU heads of states?? The end of the governing coalition is approaching and I hope that the incumbent president Valdis Zatlers would have so much willpower as to disband the parliament after resignation of the existing government!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Return to square one

The October 16, 2007 is over, and it would stay in the modern history of Latvia as a formative day. From the point of view of the long term Latvian state development events were positive, nevertheless, the most ironic assumption from the omenous October 16 is that Latvia in its development has returned to the point where all started in 1991. First, it was the speech of the US ambassador Mrs Catherine Todd Bailey in the University of Latvia "Preserving Our Common Values" (http://riga.usembassy.gov/EN/site/embassy/rel20071016). Second, the government contrary to my predictions almost unanimously (with one minister abstaining) decided to suspend the head of the Anti Corruption Agency (KNAB), Mr Alekejs Loskutovs from his duties. Third, to continue his "home made" governance style the PM "suddenly" decided that he needs the minister of economics after all (absolutely contradicting his public statement just a couple of weeks ago). Thus, he decided to accept the Fatherland Union (TB/LNNK) party nominanted member for this post Mr Einārs Cilinskis. And finally, as a response to todays events there was literally uproar of journalists, experts and pundits. Just to quote revelations from the interview of the Head of the Foreign Policy Institute Mr Atis Lejiņš to the Latvian Radio after Madam Ambassadors's speech, "that Latvia is ruled by couple of tyrants without any democratic accountability" is enough to understand that the government is considered illegitimate among liberal cirles in Latvia. To read a report by Aaron Eglitis ( http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aE30OVAfRtgE) one may read in a nutshell how the US side considers present problems in this tiny Baltic republic. Therefore in the following entry I want to specifically discuss the Mrs Todd Bailey speech from a broader international politics perspective, and I shall also try to envisage the next possible scenarios for Latvian government behavior.

At first glimpse such row of events in traditionally sleepy country might seem extraordinary. But they seem not so, if one folows news starting from the last parliamentary elections in October 2006. Fraudulent elections were subsequently continued with hasty security organisations law changes at the last day of the year, unexpected veto of these laws by the former president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga, arrest of the maire of Ventspils, election of corrupt doctor as a president of the state, release of the maire of Ventspils from prison and puting him under house arrest, stepping down of the speaker of the parliament due to corruption charges and finally hasty election of the anesteziologist and Maire of Ventspils party member as the new speaker of the parliament.

Such a row of events is quite significant for a small country and would probably make any European state citizenry to the West of Latvia to be out on streets and demanding resignation of the political elite en toto. Latvia is a post Soviet state and has not developed basic machanisms of civil society, thus majority of society is happy for the little they have. The majority of society has not learned to value their liberty and assume it as simply given and not hardly fought for and highly regarded treasure. Empowering the civil society is one of the tasks of political parties (Dahl, Duverger and others), but this task has been absolutely negleted in Latvia (to read latest UNDP reports). I do not want to blame only political elite here because intelligentsia with its traditional East European smug attitude about the governing circles is as responsible for the apathy of Latvian citizenry. We may witness the situation today, when the governing coalition has compreended that their power is absolute and they have ceased to follow basic principles of liberal democracy - respecting the rule of law and involving themselves in constrctive dialogue with the political oposition. In situation when parliament has turned itself into rubber stamp of the governing coalition and when constitutional norms are openly disregarded it was obvious that the Ambassador of the United States came out with her speech at the University of Latvia.

Mrs Todd Bailey was reaching out to the young generation of Latvians and subtly noted that its the Latvian people who must participate in travails of their democratic state. The US government is a world hegemon and it has global responsibilities. Thus, fostering democratic changes in different areas of the globe would sound utterly wrong if another NATO ally would be run without any regard to the common values. The speech of Madam Ambassador was concise, and the bottom line was the pronouncement of the new approach of the US transformational diplomacy as I was expecting it in my yesterday's blog entry:


The US policymakers have realized fuzziness of the sovereignty concept. Former head of the State Department Political Planning Division Mr Stephen Krasner was a renown scholar of the Stanford University and his book "On Sovereignty" is a bestseller. In this book he elaborates about the distinctive character of the sovereignty concept starting from inception of the modern state system after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The three basic characters of sovereignty are following: a) international legal sovereignty; b) Westphalian or Vattelian inviolability of rights of sovereign; c) domestic sovereign crediblity. While the principles a and c are not really at stake in Latvian case, then the Westphalian/Vattelian inviolability of rights concept is reassessed in many parts of the world today. The first case was Kosovo followed by Rwanda, and we still face the issue of Darfur today.

The US government after the end of the Cold War is the global hegemon and it is able to impose its soft power because it has hard power capacity. The EU would like to equal with the US but Europeans lack hard power, and in the undemocratic world the precepts preached by soft powers are not really listened to if there is no back up of the hard power. Thus, the speech of the Madam Ambassador today in the University of Lavia falls very well in line with the new style of diplomacy the US is trying to implement globally. It was the speech of the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice who first uttered the "Transformational Diplomacy" in her speech at the University of Georgetown in 2006 for the fist time, and those of you interested in the basic principles of the transformational diplomacy may find that speech at: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/59306.htm.

In the meantime Latvian politicians live their own life and it seems that the riches coming from the EU funds have made them immune even to common sense. So, the PM bureau chief, who ironically happens to be also the former ambassador to the United States , Mr Māris Riekstiņš in the name of the prime minister demanded clarifications from the US embassy about the statement, "as if calling people to the strets to overthrow legally elected government", in Madam Ambassador's speech (http://www.delfi.lv/news/national/politics/article.php?id=19230017). Either PM has gone mad or he really believes in his omnicience when he openly announced that Latvian government after ambassador's speech might reasess relations between the two states (tas būtu jauns pavērsiens divu valstu attiecībās")? And all this prior the planned trip of the Latvian PM in November to Washington???

Whatever is the mental health of the PM Latvian governance cannot improve with such crooked politicanos. The mandatory tax and property declaration system, the very system that the PM promised to introduce as of January 1, 2008 was postponed last week, because the head of the Saeima Budget Committee Kārlis Leiškalns (People's Party member and former barman) announced that there are still huge inconsistencies for implementing it. Common, it is just ludicrous! One must simply hook up the land, car and real estate registers with the cetral data base of the Internal revenue service and the system can work. For this to hppen there is political will needed, that has never existed among the elites of the post independence Latvia, unfortunately.

Thus, what could be next moves of the present governing coalition? It is a hard question and there are no easy answers. Contrary to my intuitions PM did not even think twice and continued to play hard, thus it leads me to reckon that the vote of no confidence suspending Mr Loskutovs from the post of the KNAB could be successful this Thurday in ribberstamp Saeima. In case the governing coalition does not act as one pack and oust Mr Loskutovs, it would immediately trigger collapse of the government the event that eventually would lead to snap elections. After firing Mr Loskutovs the next person could possibly be the Head of the Supreme Court Mr Andris Guļāns, because last week there were news about dirty deals of his son in http://www.apollo.lv/ and http://www.delfi.lv/ . Prosecuotr Genaral is too cautios person and his timidity is understandable.

All in all, the government has painted itself into the corner and it may leash out against anyone anytime, exactly like against Mr Edgars Gulbis who mysteriously found himself in the autumny river Daugava right out of the hands of the police convoy. Lattelecom privatiation deal must be finalized, and after that insider of the Peoples Party said to me that appetite of master manipulator Mr Šķēle should be satisfied. I somehow believe that such contemplations are wishful thinking because the appetite grows infinitely, especially among those who have been enriching themselves free of charge and without any punishment all these years.

Latvian citizens have returned to square one. Laborious work of sixteen and a half years would be in shambles if citizens would stay apathetic and passive, therefore, there must be someone either from opposition parties or intelligentsia who would concentrate dissatisfied people around one power centre and start challenging the governing gang of crooks in Latvia.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Comic continued?

Return back from the Mediterranean coast was peaceful and I found that there were no substantial events taking place in Latvia. My predictions about 3 to 5 thousand trade union representatives was overtly optimistic, because only 1500 showed up. In the meantime official statistics showed that Latvian schools miss 457 teachers and about 900 policemen/women are not on duty this year. There is not exact data about missing medical personell but my own aunt (who happens to be a nurse at the Stradina Hospital in order to earn extra to her pension) omenously warned me not to happen to be taken to the hospital on Friday, bacause there are slight chances of dying due to unattentiveness during the weekend when there are no doctors on duty...

Tomorrow is significat day in Latvia because it might draw a line of no return for the present governing coalition. Prosecutor general announced today that the Head of the Anti Corruption Agency Mr Loskutovs has not breeched his mandate and should not be fired, BUT, that a decision of pardoning/firing he left into hands of PM. PM already announced that Mr Loskutovs must go and his conviction was underlined by his old time chum Mr Dzintars Janudzeikars (First Christian Party). The latter happened to squeeze into parliament due to his party member becoming a minister, and thus he was quickly voted to become the head of the Saeima Commission of Internal Security affairs. But the talk is not about the old boys network here, but about another event taking place in Riga on the same day.

The Ambassador of the United States in Latvia Mrs Todd Bailey will deliver lecture in the University of Latvia about the transformative diplomacy principles, the ones that State Secretary Condoleeza Rice elaborated for the first time at the University of Goergotown speech in 2006. The radical Latvian media already tried to announce that the speech is intrusion of Americans in Latvia's domestic affairs. However, the same radical media does not even try to comprehend that the governance style of the ruling coalition gave a cause to Madam Ambassador to deliver such speech on such an omenous day. It is only obvious, that on the day when government of the NATO ally plans to disregard one of the basic principles of a liberal democratic regime - respect of the opinion of opposition in matters of constitutional norms, thus undermining the democratic regime itself - leading member of the defense alliance tries to reiterate, while only in academic format, that same principles Latvian government agreed on prior omenous events in 2004, still oblige Latvian government to behave as a respectable partner in the family of democratic states. It is a probably not a coincidence that the Ambassador of the United States must come up with such a speech in times of domestic turmoil in Latvia. But in the meantime it is a shame that Latvian political elite has returned to the Soviet practices of governance just three years after accession of this country to the NATO and the EU. Even former president of Latvia Madam Vike Freiberga dimplomatically announced today that the US ambassador would probably deliver speech which she would reccommend to several members of the present political elite. Thus, shall the words be heard tomorrow and tactical backup movement made, thus saving face of Latvia in front of our Western partners?

My isntincts tell me that the decision about removal of Mr Loskutovs from the office shall be postponed, and it would probably be announced in the official press statement, that there was a lack of evidence or similar phony excuse. However, in the long run it would not save Mr Loskutovs from loosing his job, because while openly confronting the US ambassador would be foolish tactics, then removiong him later would still fullfill the initial plan of saving many crooks' skin. The key of change is Latvian citizenry! Thus, the speech of the Madam Ambassador should be taken as a certain signal for citizens to foster establishment of participatory democracy rather than a hint for regime change. Shall wait for the news, because 16th of October could serve as a formative event for return of the present 'sovereign democracy' into the framework of liberal democracy and rule of law where actually nobody is above the law. Fingers crossed mates!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Incompetent governance continues

I am back from Brussels and leaving for Istambul tomorrow. Its busy time now with increased amount of work at the university. My blog entries shall be scarse this month due to work schedule, and to be honest - there is nothing new to utter due to the deeply entrenched incompetence of the present government of Latvia. Opinions among general public about the performance of the existing government range from one extreme, calling in the US government to simply overthrow the incumbent politicanos, to another, saying that the the accused maire of Ventspils should be elected as a prime minister to solve all the problems with his 'magic hand`. The Kas notiek Latvija? TV show just ended where politicians discussed with experts, trade union and employers confederation representatives the budget for the 2008 fiscal year, which the rubber stumping parliament without any discussions passed in the first reading this Monday.

The way the governing coalition acts does not seem even irresponsible anymore, but simply careless. Carelessness is omnipresent among numbers of blue collar workers and ´hard working politicians' who simply make their life easier with increased amount of alchohol consumption. Apathy prevails among the liberal circles of the society, and the feeling of helplesseness is in the air. Trade unions shall protest tomorrow in front of the Latvian parliament, and it is going to be interesting to see the actual number of protesters ( between 3 and 5 thousand participants I presume). Is the spell of general oblivion going to be broken, or virtual welfare and tranquility shall back burn until the hard landing of the economy sets in? Sad, very sad....And personally lightening up my sad contemplations by going to the sunny Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Comic a'la Lettonie

Since the spring turmoil, when former president Vīķe - Freiberga vetoed stipulations in security laws, Latvian PM decided not to come to direct TV interviews. He realized that his popularity ratings have collapsed, thus is giving only selective interviews. Several experts (Aigars Freimanis from Latvijas Fakti polling firm being most prominent among them) noticed that PM does show signs of fatigue. The PM has tried to hide acusations about his tiredness (but TV cameras rather often found him sleepin during government sessions), but today his indifference became public. The header of biggest rural daily Latvijas avīze reads - "if all collapses, thus Gundrs Bērziņš should come instead of me" ("Ja vadzis lūzīs, lai nāk Gundars" http://www2.la.lv/). Gundars Bērziņš is trusted leutenant of Mr Šķēle and graduate of the Agricultural University Mechanisation faculty (also former PM Šķēle and Minister of Defense are graduates of the same faculty). Such announcement very much reveals the decision making process within political elite. It is not the party caucus, or collegial body of coalition government, but the founder of the party who gives directions and his ministers sic leutenants must follow orders.

The order is being made to refresh the facade f the existing government, thus next week the government would step down, finally, huh, huh!! The most arkward fact, however, is that servants of the country (ministere - to serve in Latin) missinterpret their mandate. But here not only Latvia is to be blamed, because most of the countries executives desperately hold to their power. The issue now in Latvia is about the strategic move however, and the new premiership of Gundars Bēziņš cannot privide Latvian economy with fresh strategy out of abyss, he can get it only deeper in coul de sac due to his qualifications. Therefore my standpoint is that a proposed premiership of Gundars Bērziņš would only aggravate existing grudges among governing gang members. The head of the Free Trade Union Association Pēteris Krīgers announced yesterday, that they would demand offficial dismisal of Saeima in October 17 while meeting with president Zatlers. The October 17 is oficial UNO day of fight against poverty, and according to Latvian constitution only president is entitled to initiate the process of dismissing the parliament. Thus, in theory all previously mentioned factors could foster snap elections as I predicted couple of weeks ago already.

In the meantime the Anti-Corruption Agency (KNAB) is put on slow motion death row, and afer Kas notiek Latvjā? TV show heads of Police and Interior Ministry appeared contradictory and not up to their task. What I read from their announcements that it is not only dauble game, but several games simultaneously are played in order to save some crook's skin or enable continuation of holding to power. Columnist of the daily Diena Aivars Ozoliņš is excellently poignant today. He has condensed the existing situation of Latvian virtual rule of non-entity ministers into a nutshell. Those of you reading Latvian can enjoy fullness of Mr Ozoliņš article in http://www.diena.lv/. But "Varētu pasmieties par de Vaškēviča, fon Kalvīša, sera Ivara un citu plānā galdiņa bruņinieku ampēlēšanos, kurai neviens vairs netic..... Tā diemžēl nav pasaka, my quick translation for the rest of the world is: "we could laugh about De Vaskevics, Von Kalvitis, Sir Ivars, and other incompetent knights fighting with windmills, the fight nobody really believes into....but the virtual fight is not fairytale anymore." Comic, to not to say more, but very true comic indeed.

p.s. For those of you wondering in bewilderment about aristocratic adjectives in front of Latvian names, those are Latvian nouveau riche folks who are bying de, von and sir en masse to become wannabe aristocrats, thus, instead of iron rule of oligarchy there is iron rule of wannaby arictocracy at work in the post Soviet space:)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Relative calm or preparation for worst news?

Last week in Latvia the public space was full of conflicting news about the domestic infighting. The governing gang is still in power but it somehow feels that smaller gang fractions are not satisfied with the changing rules of the game. That means that they are getting out of the control, and that probably explained hasty and outright irresponsible announcement of the PM - that "there are rings of former paratroupers, KGB spies and present SAB operatives who rund the country". Yesterday the president convened the State Security Council session. At the end of the session president did not have anything to say, the minister of interior announced that there is a gang in Latvia terrorizing state officials and PM had nothing tangible to add at all. Ironically, the biggest news that came out of the State Security Council was the fact, that the incumbent speaker of the Parliament, Gunārs Daudze (member of the Latvijai un Ventspilij political party, whos head is sitting under house arrest facing embezzlement and insubordination to the state officials charges) is being elected as the new secretary of the Council. Also, yesterday the Russian president signed the Latvian-Russian border agreement into law, nd it meants that now the agreement must be finally exchanged between two country's officials.

The State Security Council ended as expected and prime minister's extravaganzas were hushed down. While journalists asked president Valdis Zatlers bout his opinion about the suspension of the head of the Anti Corruption agency (KNAB) his answer was evasive. He answered that he does not agree with haste in such decisions made and leaves it to the government special comission led by the Prosecutor General Jānis Maizītis. It is strange that Jānis Maizītis has not come up with the announcement about the illegality of PM's actions while temporarily suspending Mr Loskutovs from KNAB duties. First, the PM had the right to suspend him right after the State Control review was announced in May and not 4 month later, and second, the right to suspend KNAB head has Parliament in case the KNAB head has breached he law as stipulated in the mandate. PM action was delayed, and delay was probably caused due to the fact that former president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga was still in the office when the report from State Control ofice came. Thus, political games after government's endorsed president is in the office started last week.

Political games could be called also remodelling of the political landscape in Latvia and it actually started ith the election of Gunārs Daudze as the news speaker of the parliament. Now, there are reshuffles in the government on agenda. Today, Fatherland Union (TB/LNK) meets with PM to discuss the assignment of the minister of economics to their party, as it was stipulated by the coalition agreement. The TB/LNNK head of parliamentary fraction is afraid that PM is changing existing rules (Grīnblatam radies iespaids, ka premjers atkāpies no koleģiāla lēmumu pieņemšanas modeļa un koalīcija atgriezusies pie tā sauktā 3+1 modeļa, kāds tas bija, tēvzemiešiem ienākot valdībā, proti, koalīcijas lēmēju kodolu veido TP, ZZS un LPP/LC). Disagreements are there and it is no surprise but what makes me laugh is the announcement of the governing Peoples Party fraction head Māris Kučinskis prior TB/LNNK reps. meeting with the PM. Mr Kučinskis announced that "TB/LNNK positions are very weak because in the present situation with disbalanced economy all the blame for economic ills are directed against the PM, and he has nowhere to get help from."

Whatever announcements members of governing coalition do not make, the fact is that "the King is naked". The government is bare and illegitimate in the eyes of the public opinion, thus the decision of the elite to play the hard ball - all or nothing. The hrd ball is played in the precarios times when relations with Russia are warming up and border agreement was just signed into law by the president Putin. Last week PM Kalvitis came up with the announcement "that relations between Latvia and Russia should be expanded in cultural and conomic sphere, because both countries are culturally close". Last week it was the Constitutional court that came with the announcement about the compatibility of the border agreement with the Latvian constitution would be reached on October 30, 2007. After the UNO General Assembly meeting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Artis Pabriks announced that his homologue Mr Serguei Lavrov might arrive to Riga. It would be more that obvious that if the border agreement was signed in Moscow then officially signed & ratified agrement should exchange hands in Riga, because there are two to sign border agreement or there are always two to dnce tango. Shall see, how the official exchange of agreement shall procceed, and whether Constituational Court decision would be in accordance with already ratified document. There are many questions still to be answered during October, and the question still stands, whether there should be preparation for worst news?

Monday, October 1, 2007

The test for president Zatlers integrity

The time of reckoning for Latvian incumbent president has arrived. The PM´s announcement about the international ring of spies and special commandos running Latvia caught president unawares. Whilst being asked about temporary suspension of the Anti Corruption agency (KNAB) head Aleksejs Loskutovs president was evasive in his response to journalists. The fast unravelling of events in Latvia did not leave much room for him to speak out, because he was on his trip to Big Apple to be part of the UNO General Assembly opening session. Now, when economy is in dire straits and political scandals erupt every day there is obvious concern about ability to continue with balanced development of society.

When president was elected then I predicted that the real test for Mr Zatlers presidency would be his ability to distance from the governing coalition. Until today there was nothing to contest in public affairs due to the relative calm of the vacation period. It was irresponsible for the PM to simply sleep on laurels and do absolutely nothing while seeing spiralling inflation throughout the summer, even more so considering the fact that he is by his training an economist (though the degree was received from the University of Agriculture). But it as irresponsible for the Latvian president now to show his surprise about the real state of business because the head of his chancellary is another economist Mr Eduards Stiprais.

We should see in upcoming months whether Latvian president would take an independent stance or simply would meddle through rough autumn of Latvian politics? I opt for president simply muddling through the autumn of Latvian political turmoil because he has no independent political backing, and due to the respect to governing coalition for his nomination after all. The fact that autumn would be rough come from all corners in Latvia. In the Latvian TV evening news tonight it was governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmars Rimsevics who vicariously confirmed predictions about the imminent economic crisis. In his LIVE intervie Mr Rimsevics reiterated several times that the inflation expectations are out in the public, thus he called politicians to come to senses and not to build their political capital in spreading rumours about high annual inflation Latvia (probably referring to Mr Stokenbergs interview in Latvijas Avize today), and confirming that the Bank of Latvia predicted rate of annual inflation is just above 12%. While answering to the journalist's question whether there is devaluation of Latvian currency expected, the governor of the bank was resolutely negative: 'while I am the governor of the bank of Latvia there would be no devaluation of the lat!` The journalist then asked whether someone else might devalue the currency, because the mandate of the governor expires on December 30, 2007? The answer of Mr Rimsevics was court -`it is going to be the business of future governor of the Bank of Latvia.`

Clear and simple answers from the governor of the bank of Latvia still worries me in the context of present political developments in Latvia. Just seeing how irresponsible is the style of governance of the incumbeng cabinet and rubberstamping parliamentary majority I am not sure whether Ilmars Rimsevics mandate would be prolonged at the end of this year, or whether he is interested in sailing in the delapidated Ms Latvia. Analogy with the sailing ship unfortunately make me reckon that there are rats fleeing the ship already. Just, in the case with open and liberal economy these are not the gentelmen at helm but blue and white collar workers leaving the ship. If the coalition should fall due to the inability to agree on 2008 budget, then very serious thinking should be started about how to keep the falling pieces together. The energy prices shoot up today and Latvian housholds should see their utilitity bills increase by a third. Lets see the effects of Latvian public to contain the grudge and Latvian municipal authorities to help the most needy in case of cold winter. Bizzare the Latvian system looks now and the period of waiting simply feels too long.