RIGA - The controversial Ventspils mayor, Aivars Lembergs, has thickened the pre-election political stew by publicly claiming that several businessmen linked with the New Era party are plotting to kill him. On Aug. 9, Lembergs told the press that he had strong evidence supporting the plots, and that Security Police were aware of the threat.
"At present, [the businessmen] are deciding how to physically eliminate me... to murder me. There are people who have touched on the subject," Lembergs told a news conference.
The Ventspils mayor specified that he, personally, had not alerted the Security Police, yet he declined to reveal how he received the information.
When asked who, in particular, wanted to murder him, Lembergs said "in this case" they are not political opponents. The murder was ordered by other people 's businessmen who are "closely linked" with New Era, he said.
Despite the alleged threats to his life, the Ventspils mayor has not asked for tighter security.
Even more amusing is the setting in which Lembergs announced the distressing news: He first told journalists about the murder plot while outlining his prognosis for Latvia's parliamentary elections, scheduled for this fall.
In Lembergs' opinion, the success of Latvia's Greens and Farmers Union in the parliamentary elections would depend on "further reprisals" that might be used against him.
"There is no doubt that there will be more retaliation," Lembergs said.
New Era secretary general Edgars Jaunups described the mayor's statement as a provocation and lie.
"This is shocking information. I hope somebody will receive punishment after police probe the allegations. It will be either the person threatening Lembergs' life, which is unlikely, or Lembergs himself, as he has completely lost his common sense," the New Era representative said.
Juris Leitietis, deputy head of the Security Police, said officers had not received an application from Lembergs regarding the threats. He added that Security Police had no information suggesting that somebody was ready to murder the Ventspils mayor.
The Greens and Farmers Union last month nominated Lembergs as their candidate for Latvia's prime minister. Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities have been working on a criminal indictment against the Ventspils mayor for large-scale money laundering and graft. The mayor has been barred from leaving the country. His office and home in Ventspils have been searched and materials confiscated.