Ljudmila Jantšenko elected mayor of Kohtla-Järve
Kohtla-Järve City Council elected Deputy Mayor Ljudmila Jantšenko (Center) the new mayor of Kohtla-Järve, Estonia's fifth largest city.
20 of 21 city councilmen were present for the vote in which 14 voted in favor of Jantšenko; four voted against her, reported ERR's Russian-language news portal.
Supporters included representatives of the Center Party who were members of the city council, among whom were unaffiliated members as well.
The decision to nominate Jantšenko in the city council was reached at Tuesday's extended meeting of the leadership of the Center Party's Kohtla-Järve region.
As the oldest member of the city government, Jantšenko, who until now was serving as Kohtla-Järve's deputy mayor, began serving as acting mayor in early September after former mayor Jevgeni Solovjov's graft verdict appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of Estonia.
65-year-old Jantšenko has worked for the Kohtla-Järve city administration since 1996.
Opposition leader did not want decision rushed
As a member of the city government, Jantšenko had been responsible for Kohtla-Järve's finances for twenty years. Referencing this fact, opposition leader Eduard Odinets stated at Wednesday's city council meeting that it was not worth rushing to choose a new mayor, reported ETV's nightly news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."
"We have at least a month more time to find from among you — we unfortunately can't from among ourselves — someone who has not discredited themselves in the eyes of both city residents and me personally," said Odinets.
Jantšenko stated in the city council that it was unlikely that they would begin to demand payment from Solovjov for the potential damages caused to the city. According to the new mayor, there is no reason to suspect that money was paid out by the city treasury for no reason.
"There are many, shall I say, disagreements regarding the Road Registry and acts, but that does not mean that the money was paid for something that was not done at all," explained Jantšenko.
Without a declaration from the city, damages allegedly to the tune of more than one million euros cannot be claimed from either Solovjov or former mayor and councilman Jüri Kollo.
On Oct. 28, 2015, Viru County Court found Solovjov and former Kohtla-Järve Deputy Mayor Jüri Kollo guilty of corruption crimes. The court found Solovjov guilty of embezzlement, competition-related offenses and offenses related to the breaching of the duty to maintain integrity, counterfeiting and using counterfeit documents as well as misuse of trust. The court handed him a conditional sentence of five years in prison with a probation period of five years.
The verdict in Solovjov and Kollo's case became final during the first week of September, when the Supreme Court of Estonia decided not to hear the men's appeal.
According to the 2015 indictment, the board member of a company providing services to the city of Kohtla-Järve presented false information to the city government from September 2006 to August 2009 regarding maintenance, service and cleaning work performed. The reports were accepted by the city government for the payment of invoices. Acceptance and survey records concerning the works were falsified retroactively along with the budget presented by the company to the city goovernment in order to conceal the unlawfulness of the payments in excess of the budgeted amount.
In 2009, the Kohtla-Järve city government conducted procurement tenders to find companies to perform various works and services, in the course of which the mayor allegedly used his official position to create favorable terms for entrepreneurs he knew, including two companies.
With a populatin of 37,000, the majority Russian-speaking industrial city of Kohtla-Järve is the fifth biggest city in Estonia.