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Police investigate rally in Riga after supermarket collapse disaster (video)

Dec 03, 2013
By Rayyan Sabet-Parry, RIGA

Police investigate rally in Riga after supermarket collapse disaster (video)
Hundreds have rallied in Riga for and against the cities mayor (photo by Delfi)

Police are investigating the conduct of Riga mayor supporters after up to a thousand people rallied in Riga on Dec. 3

Pro and anti Nils Ushakov supporters chanted slogans and held up placards outside the town hall, video reports showed. 

Three people were arrested during the protest after an altercation , reports LETA. 

The rally follows after the November Maxima supermarket collapse that left 54 dead and dozens injured.

Following the tragedy, calls have been made to bring down the mayor after Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis resigned. Dombrovskis said he took political responsibility for the tragedy. Hundreds of pro mayor supporters also turned out to support Mr Ushakov. 

A statement from Latvian police said pro supporters had arrived half hour early and used drums and loud speakers, contrary to the law. 

The calls for his resignation have been led by former MP Janis Martins Skuja who accused Ushakov of paying people to come to the rallies. He said it's hoped the rallies could lead to more changes in the government.

"Everything starts from something. We can sit at home and scream about the government or we can come out. Maybe this is the start of something, we'll see," said Mr Skuja.

Protestors have also called for Riga City Council to enforce proper building standards following the tragedy.

Aina Lismane, an anti Ushakov protestor said: "We feel that Nils Ushakovs has to take responsibility for the tragedy in Zolitude. Valdis Dombrovskis doesn't need to be the only one. Being the mayor of Riga, he is the head of the building development, he calls the shots. He should go." 

Later, anti mayor protestors made their way on to the town hall balcony before police attempted to forcefully evict them. The attempted evictions led to intervention by city council members. Police later left the protestors alone.  

During the rally, Ushakov greeted his supporters to loud applause. Posting on his Facebook account, he said: "Thank you all for your support. In a difficult time for the city, we should be together."

A pro Riga mayor supporter said: "He's the only mayor that thinks about the people and not his pocket. He's a great mayor, i want him to stay. 

"He's the only person who doesn't think about differences, whether you're Russian, Latvian or Chinese."

Ushakovs supporters' were rallied by SUIS Riga CEO Janis Juksinskis, who is also among those who have donated funds to Harmony Center political party.

Juksinskis believes that Ushakovs is the only one who has done something to investigate the Zolitude tragedy, saying that his big accomplishment has been to suspend six Riga Construction Board employees and organized the investigation.

See some photos from the protest here

Watch the video from the protests here 

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