Riga public and opposition want to get rid of "corrupt" mayor

  • 2008-07-09
  • By Monika Hanley
RIGA - Members of the opposition center-right New Era faction of the Riga City Council filed a formal petition Monday calling for the resignation of Riga Mayor Janis Birks.
In accordance with the Latvian local law regarding public officials, the city council have to consider Birks' removal from office at its upcoming meeting.
The New Era party's call for Birks' resignation is based on allegations of corruption and lack of oversight during his tenure.

Outraged Riga residents and workers have a lot to say on the issue.
Juris B., an IT professional working in the center of Riga, said, "Birks will be remembered for the fact that during his time in [office], there have been corruption allegations, scandals, and they haven't been able to handle the few things they are elected to do."
When asked for his take on the current state of the City Council, Juris answered, "I have no idea how [the Riga City Council] can even begin to fix this mess."
If Birks does not voluntarily resign, and the members of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party (known by the Latvian abbreviation LSDSP) do not retract their signatures, the decision will go to the city council at a special session.

As The Baltic Times went to press, 22 signatures had been gathered, including six signatures by members of the LSDSP. Calling a special city council meeting requires 20 signatures. At the special meeting, the Riga City Council agreed to keep Birks as Mayor, although tensions are far from over. Despite that, Deputy Mayor Janis Dinevics said that "All sides have agreed that there are things to discuss and problems to solve, but these problems will be solved in a different way."

"Such a terrible leader hasn't been seen in a long time. He got to be mayor in some sort of mystical way and is trying with all his might to hold on to that position." added Juris.
Many citizens think Mayor Birks' political party is long past its prime.
"In my eyes TB/LNNK has been politically dead for a long time. They have no party, just some sort of scheming bar, where they try to tempt voters with the national idea, but lately that hasn't worked out well for them." said Silvija B., a small-business owner in Riga's old town.

Janis O., a banker who works in central Riga, held nothing back, saying, "If you're asking if I think he should resign, I'd say that he shouldn't have been allowed to even pretend to be mayor, let alone be the actual mayor."