TALLINN - In total 58 members of the Narva chapter of the Center Party have left the party since mid-August.
Commenting on the figure, the party's spokesman Andre Hanimagi told BNS that the statistics is available in the Commercial Register and does not list the reasons for leaving.
"Therefore it cannot be said that crucial in the case of all these people was the wish of the board that the members of the Narva city council against whom a suspicion has been lodged withdraw from their positions until the matter is clarified. As we have learned, it was decided to leave the party instead. Those who have left the party include 24 employees of Narva Vesi," Hanimagi said referring to the northeastern border city's municipal water company.
The Narva chapter of the Center Party has approximately 500 members and Center has a long history of winning elections in Narva.
"Of course the leaving of many people is regrettable, but even the most difficult moments offer an opportunity for positive change -- new people will join the party and hopefully many of those who have left will do it as well. Together, and as members of a strong organization, residents of Narva can better stand for the interests of their native city and East-Viru county," the spokesman said.
Eight members of the council of Narva from the Center Party have been declared suspects in a criminal investigation. According to the suspicion, several members of the council did not remove themselves from voting connected to transfering assets of the city for free to companies connected to them or financing of the companies. The councilors declared suspects include the CEO of Narva Vesi, Aleksei Voronov.
The board of the Center Party on Aug. 10 discussed the corruption suspicions handed to members of the Narva council and decided that the people targeted by the suspicions must suspend their council membership for the duration of the investigation and also remove themselves from leading positions in city institutions.
The Center Party group in the council collapsed when the eight members as well as five other Centrist council members left the party, but not the council. On Aug. 16 the former Centrist council members set up a new group, Meie Kodu Narva (Our Home Narva) and elected Irina Janovits as the new council chairman.