EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Latvians Called To Combat Power Of Oligarch Businessmen – Country “Ruled By Lies”

Posted by Info on 25/07/2011

Latvians have overwhelmingly with 94.8 per cent voted in favour of dissolving parliament in a referendum called to combat the power of oligarch businessmen, early results of the poll showed.
It was the first such referendum since the Baltic country of 2.2 million people broke away from the Soviet Union 20 years ago.The referendum was called for in May when former President Valdis Zatlers used his presidential power to dissolve the parliament – a decision that must be supported by a majority of voters.

Zatlers was angered that MPs had blocked an anti-corruption probe involving top legislators and businessmen.The following week, Zatlers lost his re-election bid when legislators – who in Latvia elect the president every four years – opted for challenger Andris Berzins, a millionaire lawmaker.
Zlaters hammered home his message on the eve of the referendum, saying: “I got fed up of living in a country ruled by lies, cynicism and greed”.

Many Latvians share Zatlers’ concerns that wealthy businessmen-politicians, or oligarchs, have too much influence in politics through their personal and business links with legislators, or by getting into the parliament themselves.

In December 2008 the European Union and the International Monetary Fund stepped in to rescue the country from bankruptcy, but the aid did little to alleviate widespread discontent as the government slashed spending and raised taxes.Unemployment eventually reached nearly 25 per cent, and tens of thousands of people left the country to find work in Sweden, Britain and Ireland.

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