Thirteen members of the city council of the northeastern border town of Narva, eight of whom are suspects in an ongoing corruption case, left the Centre Party on Thursday. According to party chairman and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), that is exactly what the party wanted.
"What happened in Narva is what the party wanted. We wanted to support the nearly 57,000 residents of Narva, who want the city's government to be transparent, fair and free from corruption," Ratas said on Thursday.
According to the prime minister, his party has previously said that people connected to corruption cases can't be party members. Had the councilmen not left themselves, they would have been thrown out, he added.
Narva is now moving forward towards a fair and transparent local government, Ratas said. With Centre losing 13 votes on the city council, a coalition is likely to take over.
Before Thursday, 21 of the 31 members of the city council were part of the Centre Party's group. The party also holds one more mandate, namely that of Mihhail Stalnuhhin MP, who is a party member, but declined to be part of Centre's group on the council.
Eight members of the Narva city council who belonged to the Centre Party found themselves under pressure last week after the prosecutor's office announced that the councillors suspects in a criminal investigation.
According to the prosecutor's office, several members of the council did not remove themselves from votes that concerned the transfer of public assets for free to businesses connected to them.
Editor: Dario Cavegn