Eesti 200 calls for Narva councilor resignation after police investigation
Eesti 200 is calling for a councilor to resign his seat on the city government following a criminal investigation into the individual. The councilor, Sergei Gorlatš, is charged with vote-buying ahead of the October 17 local elections.
Denis Lartšenko, Eesti 200's Narva chair, said his party does not tolerate corruption and that Gorlatš, who has not been found guilty of anything at this point, should have his seat temporarily suspended.
Lartšenko called the situation unfortunate, saying that: "Since he is also one of the leading figures on Katri Raik's list and was set to be chairman of the council, then at present we scan ee no choice but to temporarily suspend his mandate. This is the only way to successfully conclude the coalition negotiations and form a new Narva city coalition."
Gorlats is chair of Narva's Reform Party branch, but did not run for the party in the local elections, choosing instead to run for Katri Raik's electoral alliance. Raik is the city's mayor, and Tuesday's revelations about the investigation into Gorlatš put the planned coalition deal signing between her list and Eesti 200, due to take place the same day, on hold.
Raik said of the current situation that: "I am waiting for a meeting with Sergei to get a better understanding of the circumstances. One thing is clear, the signing of the coalition agreement planned for [Tuesday] will be canceled," noting that if Gorlatš is found guilty then it would likely be the end of his political career.
For Raik, not only is the fact that Gorlatš ran on her list, but also that his alleged actions, if proven true, would run against her ambitions to clean up Narva political.
Eesti 200 says it wants to add in a section on corruption in the planned coalition agreement.
Gorlatš, a former deputy mayor, is alleged to have invited around 40 Narva residents to an election week day out, which took in a spa visit, picnic, guided walk and transport, at Gorlatš' expense.
Meanwhile, participants were instructed to bring along their ID card and PIN codes, and they were allegedly then provided with a laptop to vote for Gorlatš, which around half of them reportedly went along with (e-votes can be superseded during advance voting periods, and also on election day itself, at a polling station).
The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is investigating the actions Gorlatš, 43, and a those of an accomplice, a 66-year-old woman, are alleged to have engaged in, under the direction of the prosecutor's office.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte