Latvia's Presidential Election Result Greeted with Uneasiness

Newly elected President of Latvia Andris Bērzinš Photo: Scanpix Sweden
6/3/2011 10:43 AM
Category: Politics

Latvian Parliament's decision to elect a wealthy ex-banker as head of state in the middle of a political scandal about influence of purported oligarchs has been greeted with concern by the head of Estonia's parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

The MP, Marko Mihkelson, said that while Andris Bērzinš was not a oligarch himself, "his victory points to the fact that his base consists of the same oligarchs who are often talked about."

Bērzinš comes from the Union of Greens and Farmers, widely known for its financial dependence on Aivars Lembergs, one of the wealthy entrepreneurs whom outgoing president Valdis Zatlers alluded to in his Saturday's speech about "privatization of democracy" in Latvia.

Mihkelson also said Bērzinš is a man given to strange pronouncements, and the event was "cause for head-scratching."

"This domestic political crisis that has gripped Latvia is related to clearly murky transactions and corruption and causes many questions in Latvia itself and in investors further away."

The referendum on dissolving Parliament - the last dramatic move by outgoing president Zatlers - still hangs in the balance, scheduled for July 23.

"Presumably early elections are in the offing," said Mihkelson.

Ragnar Kond, ETV's correspondent in Riga, shared Mihkelson's dim view of the current Latvian parliament, saying that Zatlers's message about fighting corruption seems to have fallen on deaf ears. "Parliament likely just chose to ignore it," said Kond.  


Kristopher Rikken


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