RIGA - Together for Latvia, the political party founded by Rezekne Mayor Aleksandrs Bartasevics, has called on residents of the financially troubled city in eastern Latvia to join a protest to "defend their native city" and resist "political lawlessness and blackmail".
The local government of Rezekne has run into trouble and come to the attention of state authorities because of its financial problems. Bartasevics is likely to lose his seat as Rezekne mayor as the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development has started a procedure to remove him from office. Bartasevics, however, denies his responsibility for the city's financial issues and claims that his removal would be politically motivated.
The appeal to Rezekne's residents to "defend their native city" has been posted on social networks in Latvian and Russian and signed by Bartasevics. The embattled mayor claims that the government intends to "reverse Rezekne's development" and "destroy the results 14 years of heard and diligent work".
The protest announced by Bartasevics in his own support is planned for this Thursday, September 21, by the town hall.
As reported, earlier this month then environmental protection and regional development minister Maris Sprindzuks (United List) launched a procedure to remove Aleksandrs Bartasevics (Together for Latvia) from the post of Rezekne mayor, but the final decision on this matter will have to be taken by the new Regional Development Minister Inga Berzina (New Unity).
As the procedure to sack him was launched, Bartasevics described it as an "organized slandering campaign which has political aims", adding that the campaign is targeting the city of Rezekne and its mayor personally.
Berzina, the new Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister, said that she saw a sufficient reason to remove Bartasevics from office, but noted that the decision on this matter must not be politically motivated. The minister said that it will take time to prepare a legally correct decision. Since state auditors are expected to provide their findings about the situation in Rezekne in November, the minister, too, is likely to take her decision in November.