Virve Linder could become new mayor of Kohtla-Järve

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Virve Linder.
Virve Linder. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

A city embroiled in a corruption scandal, Kohtla-Järve, is forming a new coalition. The project manager of the Viru prison, Virve Linder (Isamaa), is running for mayor and Eduard Odinets (SDE) is running for the city council chair.

The 37-year-old Linder, a graduate of the Pallas University of Applied Sciences in Tartu and former high school teacher in Kohtla-Järve, told daily "Põhjarannik" (link in Estonian) that she was asked to run for mayor and that she agreed.

"You have to understand that I am not a politician looking for a cozy seat in city hall," she told ERR's "AK." "I am a regular Kohtla-Järve resident. I have lived here my entire life, my children go to school and participate in hobby groups here; my dream is to live in a better city than the one I live in now."

However, she said that at the current stage of coalition negotiations, everything is still up in the air, and all parties are free to propose qualified candidates for mayor and other positions.

On October 27, seven votes of no confidence were brought against the city council and Tiit Lillemets, the council chair, was dismissed from office.

The three-party coalition has agreed that former municipal leaders, led by Valeri Korb (Center), will no longer participate in high-level city government decisions.

Thursday evening will see the next round of coalition discussions.

"Restart," the Kohtla-Järve election union and one of the coalition-forming parties, will nominate Linder (Isamaa) as a candidate for mayor of Kohtla-Järve, while Eduard Odinets (SDE), a current member of the city council, will be proposed as the next chair.

The parties hope to establish a coalition agreement before Monday's council meeting, where the council chair is due to be elected.

The city government is expected to be in place by November 24.

In addition to a number of other local government officials and two deputy mayors, nine of the 25 Kohtla-Järve city council members are suspected of involvement in a corruption scandal involving bribery and influencing the awarding of local government contracts to private firms in the Kohtla-Järve and Jõhvi area. The criminal case involves 17 suspects, including city council members and officials as well as local businessman Nikolai Ossipenko.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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