RIGA - The Riga Municipal Police have accepted a petition from the All For Latvia party’s co-chairman Raivis Dzintars, demanding that Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) be held responsible for using profane language at a public event, reports news agency LETA. Investigation in the case may take about four months, says Riga Municipal Police public relations officer Inese Timane.
As Dzintars claims in his petition, Usakovs used profanities during a Riga City Council session on Dec. 17 last year. The session was aired live on the Riga City Council’s Web site; later, excerpts from it were posted in all major Latvian mass media. “Since the said Riga City Council session could be watched live, and the Riga City Council is funded with Riga taxpayers’ money, it should be considered a public space, whereas use of profanities in public places is an administrative violation,” noted Dzintars.
Furthermore, Usakovs’ profanities were targeted at certain officials elected by voters, therefore representing these voters at the Riga City Council, therefore offending these officials may be considered as an offense against the voters who elected them, Dzintars stated.
A recording of the Riga City Council meeting on Dec. 17 last year picked up Usakovs, quietly to himself or in conversation with Deputy Mayor Ainars Slesers (Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way), repeatedly using ‘foul’ language. The next day, Usakovs apologized to all those who were offended by the foul language he uttered during the meeting. As his press secretary Anna Kononova explained at the time, the footage and audio in the mass media reflected a private conversation between the mayor and “the individual sitting next to him,” and were “the result of fatigue in leading the day-long session, where opposition councilmen tried to delay adoption of bills without reason.”
Opposition Civic Union leader Girts Valdis Kristovskis called for Usakovs and Slesers to resign for using profanities, saying this “has sullied Riga’s reputation.”
“I never would have thought that Mr. Kristovskis was so sensitive as to have a few strong words make him faint,” commented the mayor. Usakovs in turn said that several Civic Union members should “apologize for their improper conduct at the Dec. 17 meeting.”
Following the incident, Riga City Council opposition suggested a vote of no confidence against Usakovs, but most councilmen voted in favor of the mayor. The Dec. 17 emergency city council meeting was on the 2010 municipal budget, and went long into the night as opposition members debated each and every issue at length.