Leading Center Party politicians have still not found a consensus on whether or not the party should allow former Narva mayor Aleksei Jevgrafov, along with many city council members, into the party. Narva has been in the midst of political limbo since fall, which is being amplified as the number of COVID-19 cases in the region continues to grow.
Center Party deputy chairman Jaanus Karilaid told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday that according to the coalition agreement signed by Center's political group and electoral bloc Meie Narva, Center Party would receive the position of chairman of the city council and Social Democrat MP Katri Raik would become mayor. The two blocs hold 17 of the 31-seat council's votes.
"Things are moving very clearly in Narva currently. Center's group has been restored, the coalition agreement has been drawn up and I do not consider it correct to change it," Karilaid said.
Center's Narva region chairowman MEP Yana Toom said she is in favor of a wider coalition, involving both Katri Raik and former mayor Aleksei Jevgrafov.
Center lost power in Narva in 2018, when city council members left the party as a result of disagreements with Center Party Chairman and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.
"The headlines of Center restoring its power in Narva are exaggerations to put it lightly, as the new coalition has four people from Center and the political group they are developing carries the name Kesk. If we have four from Center, the mayor is a Social Democrat and the deputy mayor is from Reform, it is hard to call it Center's power," Toom said.
Karilaid noted that while members of Narva city council submitted applications to become members of Center, they did so through the Ida-Viru region, who supported them becoming members of the party.
"Perhaps they wish to run in Toila municipality or Narva-Jõesuu or in other regions in Ida-Viru County. So any kind of political initiative can be handled as a positive. But there is a coalition agreement in Narva and we have so far seen no proposed changes to it," Karilaid said.
Yana Toom explained that Narva is located in Ida-Viru County and the votes to welcome the city council members would have been five-four in favor but flight restrictions kept her from being present at the council sitting.
"We just had the problem of leadership not coming together. There was no quorum. And if there is no quorum and decisions need to be made, we will make them. This means that I was not there. I have to be present for it to be the Narva region. But the current flight restrictions are as they are," Toom said, who works in Brussels.
Center party's leadership will make the final decision on allowing Narva city council members into the party. Center Secretary General Mihhail Korb said there is no date set for a meeting.
Katri Raik: Ex-mayor was given cushy position as Narva Hospital board
The ousted mayor of Narva Aleksei Jevgrafov was this week given a seat on the board member of Narva Hospital. While the board should strengthen the strategic management of the hospital, opposition bloc leader Katri Raik said the former mayor was given a temporary well-paying position.
Jevgrafov and former city council chairwoman Irina Janovitš lost their roles in the leadership of the city after a motion of no confidence earlier this month, but maintained their positions on the board of Narva Hospital, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Wednesday.
Long-time hospital board member Olev Silland will continue as chief of medicine.
Janovitš, who is now chairwoman of the hospital council, said: "Olev Silland will assist more in medicinal services, but Aleksei will take on strategic management."
Jevgrafov said: "There will be investments and I have contacts in the ministry, I know who I need to talk to on particular subjects and I will certainly deal with it."
At the same time, Jevgrafov is a mayoral candidate for electoral bloc Kodulinn Narva and if he is elected mayor on December 30, he can only lead the hospital for two weeks. "Well, let's see. Maybe two weeks, maybe I will not be elected. Time will tell," he said.
Katri Raik, mayor candidate of the Meie Narva bloc, assessed that the change in hospital leadership is a result of wanting to ensure an income.
"I do not see a chance of wishing to solve management issues at Narva Hospital. The hospital council chairwoman is the former city council chairwoman who provided the former mayor with a cushy €6,000 a month job," Raik said.
Jevgrafov does not believe the wage for a hospital board member is €6,000. "I do not know, I have not signed the contract yet, but I feel like it is less. It was not a request of mine, I will continue on the same conditions the former board member had," the former mayor said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste