Supporters of Riga mayor stage rally amid corruption allegations in municipal firm

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-09 22:52:17|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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RIGA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- A large crowd of people gathered in Riga Town Hall Square on Saturday to show their support for Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs whose home was recently searched as part of a probe into alleged corruption in a municipal company.

Many supporters of the mayor had arrived to the rally with posters expressing support for Usakovs and lambasting the Latvian government whose ministers have been calling for the mayor's resignation.

Some protesters were holding signs with demands for various social improvements like lowering the prices of medicines and preventing emigration.

According to information provided by the state police, the rally in the town square had gathered around 3,000 people, but the event passed off peacefully despite earlier warnings of possible provocations on the part of some radical activists.

Usakovs watched the rally standing on the stairs at the town hall's entrance. Addressing the crowd, the mayor said that for some residents of Riga he was the symbol of all the good work that has been done for the city, while for others he stood for everything that was bad, but that the truth was somewhere in between.

At around 2 p.m. the protesters dispersed and the rally, which took place under heavy police presence, was over.

Usakovs' left-wing Harmony party organized the rally in the town hall square after anti-graft operatives on Jan. 30 raided his office and home as part an ongoing criminal investigation into alleged large-scale corruption and money laundering in Rigas Satiksme municipal transport company.

Andris Ameriks resigned as Riga vice mayor after the corruption scandal in Rigas Satiksme broke out, and several officials, including Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Puce, have also called for Usakovs' resignation.

The mayor has been consistently denying his involvement in any corruptive activities and said he would not step down.