MP Ivars Zariņš: It doesn't matter if the government has plans A, B or C, it always does plan D...

Conversation with Saeima deputy Ivars Zariņš (Harmony, Saskaņa).
18.03.2021. MKMāris Krautmanis

You are vehemently criticizing the government. One of your recent articles begins with the words: “Procurement of vaccines, procurement of masks, the OIK [mandatory procurement component] affair, and so on." Is the situation really that bad?

Quite recently, I heard a conversation in which, in the context of recent events, one person was horrified by what was happening, to which the other replied: "But just imagine how that government worked until now, when there was no Covid, when nothing forced it to act responsibly!"

Indeed, Covid has given the public an opportunity to see how irresponsible, incompetent and lacking the power in Latvia is. What are the reasons for this and why it was inevitable, I have explained in detail in the article "Fronte tēva pagalmā" [Front-line in the father's yard]. I have known this for a long time, and I have tried to explain it to others more than once - for example, using the same OIK affair, where the facts about the irresponsibility and permissiveness of power are so shocking that many still refuse to believe it, and many obviously criminal situations are not investigated. Moreover, contrary to the promises made by the ruling parties, this affair is not being stopped. This government is led by the godfather of OIK affair, Krišjānis Kariņš (JV), who laid the legal foundations for it when he was the Minister of Economy. Not only does the government continue to cover up this affair, but it does so at an unprecedented level of "uncompromising rule of law" - now openly ignoring what is written in the laws - such as the requirement to recover all fraudulent aid, the requirement to recalculate aid to be proportionate rather than excessive. And the list could go on. For example, since I started fighting this OIK affair and getting OIK stations inspected, Kariņš's government has received information about dozens of obvious frauds, particularly large ones, to which it has not responded for years, but on the contrary, has sought to establish rules behind which they could be covered up to make it as difficult as possible for the State Construction Control Bureau to deal with them. Not only have these millions stolen from us not been recovered, but we continue to generously pay these fraudsters for their lucrative business. This is due to the "competent" and "selfless" actions of the Ministry of Economics. When Kariņš had just addressed the Saeima with a report on the achievements of his government, I publicly warned him - if he did not bring transparency to the Ministry of Economics in the near future or if what was happening around the OIK was simply incompetence or political corruption, I would turn to law enforcement agencies so they could shed light upon on his own place. And unlike his ministers, I always keep my promises.

What is happening or will happen to OIK? Today, many consumers use little or no electricity, but they still have to pay for OIK.

As long as there are sheep - there will be shearers! That is the order of things. If society is ready to accept the order of such things and all everyone is ready to do is grumble about it on their sofa, then we will all continue to pay for this affair for many years to come. These are many hundreds of millions that we still have to pay. Instead of creating a new, effective support system for renewable energy, we will continue to overfeed the old system, where many receive this support completely unjustified, or where technological solutions are so inefficient and inappropriate that their continued use is like going forward in a leaking boat. Everyone who has sat down in it is becoming a bigger hostage to it. It is obvious that the Ministry of Economy has no clue, and there does not seem to be a desire to address this situation.

In politics, the "red lines" have been drawn all over the place - the ruling coalition against SC, JKP against ZZS.

I have been trying to explain where this will lead for many years, and thanks to the Covid, the whole society can now see it clearly. In fact, this is a natural result, and it was not difficult to predict if you know how democracy works. Namely, for democracy to work as an effective mechanism of public administration, it is important that there is healthy, full-blooded political competition - that is, that there can be a real change of power, that there can be real competition for power between all political forces and that society can follow along as they would for a hockey match - on all games. And only the best would reach the finals. Now it is not how it is right now. Thanks to the drawn "red lines", the winners are already known in advance - no matter what the outcome of the game, the finalists have already been announced in advance. You don't have to worry about attracting the best players to win, the main thing is to put on the "right" team uniform. And no matter how many pucks the opposition throws at the goal of the coalition of power, the winner of the game will not change. Because there is only one winner at the drawn "red lines". As a result, there is a growing political degradation, when any fool or weakling can be in power, even a villain - because they will not have to answer for their promises and what they've done - they still remain on the field. And here the media, which play at the front-line in the father's yard, also play an important role in the degradation of power - by not objectively reflecting and analyzing what is happening, but trying to present it to the public in the "right" manner, defending the "right" political forces against the "wrong". As a result, society is increasingly believing in what is being said on social networks rather than what traditional media are trying to tell them.

Where does it lead and how to fix it?

All this leads to a growing division in society and distrust in state power. And Latvia is increasingly falling behind, now also from our neighboring Lithuanians and Estonians, who have long since overcome this curse of "red lines". And we have no other choice if we wish to break free from the doom of this power failure. Until a ruthless political match starts all over the field, as a result of which the best, not just the "right" ones, will be able to remain in the game, they will be able to continue awkwardly and clumsily scrambling across the field. We must not be afraid to let democracy work, not just use it as a cover to legitimize the permissiveness and failure of the existing power - we must allow the pendulum of power to work so that it begins to tear Latvia's politics from the weak and the wicked. Now they are all across the political spectrum. The maturity of democracy is determined by how realistically and effectively a change of power is possible - because every time it changes, there is a purification of power. But here it is not allowed at all. It is important to note here - a real change of power, not a mutation of the existing power, which we experience after each Saeima election, when the essence of the center of power has not changed, only spruced up with new blood. Thus, the "new power" becomes a cover for the old power, not a broom that sweeps away the absurdities of the previous power and holds them responsible. A clear example is the OIK affair. But there is a boatload of such affairs. A stinky, heavy boatload that no one is going to clean up, but just keep adding more and make us keep dragging it as long as the power is in the "right" hands.

Do you support government-imposed Covid trade restrictions?

It is clear that adjustments to our usual lifestyles are needed to limit the spread of the virus. But the way in which this power is doing it is, in my view, already criminal irresponsibility. It makes its decisions without understanding and proper analysis, it is not only unable to understand the meaning of the data provided to it and their causality, it is not even able to grasp what data it needs to adequately assess the situation and the validity of its decisions. I demonstrated this with my request to Krišjānis Kariņš for the validity of his government's decisions. Only after receiving this request did Kariņš "suddenly" come to the public revelation that the government makes its decisions without adequate data and analysis. And this is also the reason why the government is not able to explain them to the public, even though the money allocated to the government's communication with the public is "more than it has never been."

Speaking specifically of trade restrictions. Firstly, the government still has no idea what rate of infection is caused by the movement of people at points of sale, how great these risks are, what the effect of the government's restrictions on trade is. However, this does not prevent the government from making a decision by scaring the public with common infection risks and indicators, while being unable to assess them and understand the causal links between them. For example, why did the reduction in trade restrictions lead to a decrease in infection rates rather than an increase? All this makes me want to say to the valiant government: "Kids, learn physics!" Not square meters per person, but air quality is the primary aspect that should be measured at places where people gather. And the flow of people should not be concentrated in specific stores, but should be spread over as many places as possible. And there should definitely be no restrictions on the activities of the outlets that people go to by necessity, not to have some fun shopping. For example, banning household goods shops from working is not just stupidity, but criminal stupidity. In the winter cold, when it is not possible for a person to buy the water supply, sewerage or heating supply goods necessary for their wellbeing and survival, it is criminally stupid not to allow the purchase of these goods. This stress, and therefore the undermining of people's immunity is, on the contrary, leading to a much higher risk of infection. Especially for older people who are unable to adapt to a remote lifestyle. And so it is with many of the decisions made by this government.

Do you know how the mindset of weaklings differs from the mindset of capable people? The weaklings are looking for ways to escape from risks, capable people - how to manage these risks.

If we look at what this government has done - it has desperately and clumsily tried to escape these risks, like a bad surgeon - not to operate on the injury, but to cut it off - be it a finger, an arm or a leg. It doesn't matter - the main thing is that there is a solution to keep the infection from spreading. But by solving these challenges, you create others - even bigger ones.

Yes, even that - trying to avoid, cutting something off, forbidding - can solve these challenges, but they are temporary solutions. You can similarly avoid going to the toilet - you can do it for a while, but after a while, you will have to walk around in dirty pants. That is, in essence, what our government is doing now.

With this approach - it doesn't matter if the government has plan A, plan B, or plan C, it always uses plan D...

Has the government of Krišjānis Kariņš not yet exhausted itself?

Oh, there is still much for this government to do - all this aid money, measured in billions, which will now come from Europe and which can be shared and absorbed. Therefore, no matter how many people die as a result of the failure and irresponsibility of this government, nothing will be able to break it away from power. And the current establishment has developed in Latvia, which has become attached to this power, serves it and tries to assure the Latvian society that it is the only possible political choice. It will remain there like cancer until everything gets so bad that someone will have to leave.

Is the security measure imposed on Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs proportionate?

I am not an expert on justice, but if we really live in a state governed by the rule of law and democracy, then it would be reasonable for the whole of Latvian society to expect the same process with no less decisive involvement of law enforcement agencies, upon those whose irresponsible actions are now killing hundreds, possibly thousands - because, unfortunately, this power continues to work with permissiveness and failure and is determined to continue to do so until it is held accountable for what it has done.


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