Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) on Thursday expressed his full support for the law enforcement bodies investigating possible corruption within Narva City Council after the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) conducted several investigative activities on Wednesday in connection with several council members.
"Public assets must always be used transparently, based on people's common interests and avoiding a conflict of interests," Ratas stressed. "Not even one cent of Narva taxpayers' money can serve someone's private interests. I fully support law enforcement bodies in investigating corruption suspicions in municipalities as well as the state as a whole."
The prime minister said that under his leadership, the Centre Party does not tolerate corruption in any form. "It is a problem for all of society, and law enforcement bodies, politicians as well as all people have to contribute to rooting it out," he continued. "It isn't possible to draw final conclusions based on information published in the media, but if the allegations of corruption turn out to be true, we are prepared to take the necessary steps, even if it means that we will end up in the opposition in Narva."
Current suspects all Centre Party group members
The ISS on Wednesday conducted several investigative activities in connection with members of Narva City Council suspected of corruption.
According to Viru District Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Jelena Filippova, the suspects cannot yet be named, however according to the information of ERR's Russian-language online news portal, among the suspects on the city council are Centre Party group chairman Aleksei Voronov, deputy council chairpersons Jelena Pahhomova and Larissa Olenina, and council member Aleksei Mägi, all of whom belong to the Centre Party group. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, all of their cell phones were turned off.
It cannot currently be ruled out that the number of suspects in the case may increase.
Evidence collected thus far points toward a deliberate breach of procedural restrictions as outlined in the Anti-corruption Act.
According to the allegations, members of Narva City Council did not remove themselves from voting connected to the transfer of city assets for free to companies connected to them, or to financing their companies.
The pretrial investigation for the criminal case is being conducted by the ISS under the direction of the Viru District Prosecutor's Office.
As the investigation is still ongoing, it is not possible to disclose more detailed information at this time, the prosecutor's office said.
Editor: Aili Vahtla
Source: BNS, ERR