City councilman: No candidates for mayor of Kohtla-Järve yet
Power-wielding circles in the Northeastern Estonian city of Kohtla-Järve have not yet achieved clarity regarding who could potentially become the city's next mayor following the dismissal of longtime mayorr Jevgeni Solovjov, who had been found guilty of graft by a court of law, City Councilman Eduard Odinets said on Wednesday.
"As far as I have understood, nobody has clarity over this now," Odinets, who had been elected to the city council on the Social Democrat (SDE) ticket, told BNS. "There's speculation involving many different names and on many different levels. It is clear that the new mayor will come from the same camp, but who it will be, I can't say. And there's not much difference anyway."
Asked by BNS if the new mayor will come from within the ranks of the Center Party, Odinets explained that in Ida-Viru County, the "power-wielding circle" did not necessarily mean the ruling party, as many people working in top positions there were not connected with any political party and one deputy mayor was even a member of the Reform Party.
"In the context of Ida-Viru County, one could rather speak of clans or camps — using these concepts," he said.
As potential candidates for mayor whose names have been mentioned, Odinets named Deputy Mayor Vitali Borodin (Reform) and another deputy mayor, Deniss Versinin, who came to the city government from a company owned by local businessman Nikolai Ossipenko. He also mentioned former Deputy Mayor Viktoria Tsentarnaja, who is currently employed by Ossipenko, as well as former Deputy Mayor Riina Ivanova and City Secretary Vadim Vilde.
Odinets added that with municipal elections approaching, nobody was interested in taking the job of mayor and that finding a person to fill the position might prove difficult.
Kohtla-Järve City Council is set to release Jevgeni Solovjov from the position of mayor at an emergency meeting on Thursday, but it will nt handle the appointment of a new mayor at the same meeting.
Solovjov, 68, who has served as Mayor of Kohtla-Järve for 13 years, has said he intends to retire.
According to the Commercial Register, Solovjov has been a member of the Center Party since 2003.
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 on Monday 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.