HONORABLE?: Some of Andris Ameriks’ work associates sit behind bars.
RIGA - The political party Unity has kicked off its municipal election campaign with a series of advertisements directed against current Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs, which reminds voters of his support for last year’s language referendum, reports LETA. Unity’s Riga mayoral candidate Sarmite Elerte confirmed that the television advertisements have been paid for by the party, and insisted that they are not anti-Usakovs, but based on facts and events which remind Riga residents of his stance on various issues in the past.
“Voters should remember his actions in the past when they go to the polls, and make a responsible decision on who they wish to see governing the nation’s capital,” Unity says.
One of the ads begins with the text: “We could ignore the fact that Usakovs voted against the Latvian language, provides status reports to the Russian Embassy and meets with Russian spies. We can also choose not to believe the recent article in The Guardian, which states that Latvia has become a playground for Russian business, politics and crime. Riga is our only capital - we lose Riga, we lose Latvia!”
The ad then shows Usakovs addressing a May 9 rally by the Victory Monument, saying: “For Victory Day in Riga!”
The other ad speaks about attempts several Harmony Center members have made to topple state authorities, bribe voters, as well as being involved in bribery scandals. The ad points to Riga Vice Mayor Andris Ameriks (Honor to Serve Riga) and his ‘cronies,’ who have squandered tens of millions of lats in Riga. “Some of his comrades are already sitting behind bars, while Ameriks himself has become a millionaire during his 12-year stint at the Riga City Council,” the advertisement highlights.
Usakovs however, unhappy with early campaigning, is planning to sue the Unity party for defamation of character and dissemination of false information.
“Unity’s campaign ad against Harmony Center is not only populism and nonsense, but blatant lies. Someone must be held responsible,” the mayor declared. Usakovs mentions that the two city officials, Peteris Strancis and Vilnis Strams, shown in one of the ads, were nabbed for illegal activity long before the current council came to power.
Also, the figures mentioned in the second ad are untrue, such as at Riga Freeport, 41 million lats (58.5 million euros) have been squandered, and that Riga’s budget deficit is at 54 million lats, and more.
Harmony Center and Honor to Serve Riga officially announced their joint ticket for June’s Riga City Council elections at the start of April. Topping the tickets are current Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) and Vice Mayor Andris Ameriks.
A total of 63 candidates have been included on the ticket. The local government elections in Latvia will be held on June 1.
Five parties have already announced their mayoral candidates for the Riga City Council elections. In addition to Usakovs for Harmony Center and Elite for Unity, All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK proposed Baiba Broka, the Reform Party offers Inga Antane, and the Latvian Green Party presents Guntis Belevics.