Atslēgvārdi:

Who Stands in the Way of the Rule of Law? 20

Like many other people, I am not in a good mood today. You might say I am quite pissed. And yet, one needs a cool mind to put all that has happened inside a bigger picture, so that the options become more clear. This is what I will try to do here. As a result, the answer to the question posed in the title is not what you probably think it is. Let me explain.

Iesaki citiem:

Lets start with why the rule of law is so important. At least 99% of people in this country don’t fully get it. Empirically, there are tons of evidence rule of law is one of the most important determinants of long-term economic growth (I can supply the references). But why? On a fundamental level, this is about protection of property rights against arbitrary use of power by profit-maximizing individuals. Only when there is rule of law both for the local entrepreneurs and foreign investors have proper incentives to invest, produce, and add value. Less rule of law means more uncertainty, greater risk of arbitrary expropriation. More uncertainty means less investment, less value-added. How to ensure the rule of law? The only technology we know is to disperse power by creating institutions of checks and balances. For example, an independent central bank is one such institution. It makes it harder for those who control the government to use the inflation tax. Those in Belarus, for example, are now learning the hard way what it means not to have such an institution.

We have many of the right institutions because we copied from the West. But we don’t have the rule of law. Why? The reason is that the ‘oligarchs’ do not want their power to be constrained and, therefore, seek to neutralize the institutions of checks-and-balances. They do it by placing their associates or, better, the most mediocre and incapable individuals they can find, in charge of these institutions. This is what the recent events with the appointment of the general prosecutor, various judges, ombudsman, and the presidential elections are all about. Sometimes, they miscalculate and those they thought docile and mediocre turn out to be something else. I believe these are the stories of Mr. Zatlers, Mrs. Vike-Freiberga, Mr. Loskutovs, and some others.

Yesterday’s election was just one more such event - an attempt to neutralize an institution that can constrain the power of the parliament (and the government). Of all the possible candidates that could be imagined, Mr Berzins, arguably, is the worst. In just a few weeks since the now elected President was nominated, the journalists already managed to raise many questions about the past of Mr. Berzins. For example, there are allegations of what seems like fraudulent use of EU funds. There are also serious questions about adequacy of Mr. Berzins pension (probably the highest in the country), which was calculated based on an outrageously high (some say at least twice as high that bank CEOs earn today) salary as a CEO in a state-owned bank. Will Mr Berzins surprise his former associates? Time will tell...

The practical question, of course, is what can be done to stop the subversion of democracy in this country. Some people seem to crave the hopes that the forthcoming election will result in a decisive victory for the anti-oligarch parties, with a resulting majority in the parliament. Such thinking is delusional.

The distribution of seats in the parliament reflects deep divisions within the Latvian society. As far as most voters are concerned, these divisions are more important than (to them), than some abstract idea of the rule of law. These divisions are well-known. First, people are divided along ethnic lines. Indeed, the increasingly obvious complicity of the Harmony Center in the subversion of democracy says something about the sheer confidence this party has in its voters (and its influence in the media that cater to Russian-speakers). HC politicians seem to feel they can get away with nearly anything. Second, there are farmers and those living in the regions. Many of them are dismayed by what they see as irreversible decay of the countryside, they loath those arrogant city liberals, and they are instinctively opposed to anything foreign. This makes for good material for the propaganda machines that oligarchs’ money can buy. All in all, it is naive to think that these large groups of voters will think that some abstract idea of rule of law is more important than their present afflictions. In other words, there are good reasons to believe that, in a matter of just a few months, we will see substantial changes in the disposition of political forces in the parliament.

Thus, today’s parliament is probably a good approximation of what the next one will look like - except, of course, that PLL might not make it. So lets look at what makes the oligarchs powerful in this parliament. There are three possible minimum-sized majority coalitions. One of these coalitions has no oligarch parties, i.e. no Greens and Farmers, and no PLL. In a parliament like this, the oligarchs certainly have influence, but this influence is severely constrained by the possibility of a coalition without the oligarchs. Unfortunately, this is not how things work in this country. What we have is an unwritten rule that ‘Russian’ parties cannot be admitted to the ruling coalition. To date, no ‘Russian’ party ever was. So lets repeat the coalition calculus subject to this unwritten rule.

Number of minimum-sized majority coalitions (without HC)? One.

Number of minimum-sized majority coalitions without the oligarch parties? Zero.

Clearly, oligarch(s) have a lot more influence where a large group of voters is effectively excluded, yet majority coalitions must be formed.

Now we are in position to answer the question of who stands in the way of the rule of law. It is tempting to say: oligarchs, or those who chose complicity, like HC. These explanations, however, only amount to proximate causes. Arguably, the nature of oligarchs is to strive be rich and to be beyond the law (which helps become richer). Do you blame a wolf for being a wolf? Or, do you blame those that set the wolf loose? Should we blame the elements that insist on exclusion of the Harmony Center (or any other ‘Russian’ party) no matter the cost, since this is what makes subversion of democracy possible? In my view, the the answer is yes.

Once more: I am not saying a coalition with HC is the best one you can have. As I wrote before, there are good reasons to believe that, over the last couple of years, Harmony Center chose to be complicit in the subversion of democracy and the rule of law. Nonetheless, the unwritten norm whereby ‘Russian’ parties are excluded from the government must be destroyed. This necessarily implies the must for a coalition with the Harmony Center at some point - the sooner, the better. There can be no rule of law as long as the Russian-speaking voters are effectively excluded from the political process.

Iesaki citiem:
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Komentāri (20) secība: augoša / dilstoša

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Misteram Vjačeslavam 04.11.2011 22:27
Pirms spīdēt ar savu "PISSED" gudrību un drukāt tekstus angļu valodā, vajadzētu padomāt, kas tu esi, kam tu esi vajadzīgs un kam tu gribi spīdēt?

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Signe Martišūne-Schwagrowski-Buyse 09.07.2011 17:07
first time reader :) and very positevely surprised, not that I did not expect good stuff from you but I was surprised that you have actually taken the time to state all the valid points.
one of the reasons I left LV is exactly the lack of "rule of law" in that country. sad. I do have to say "that" about the country who's passport I am still holding.
any way - a mon avis (check if KasparsM will object that I am using french) the solutions are there but there is no willingness to implement them - not only by the policitians and those called oligarhi but also by us - citizens..
and therefore I loved this comment earlier: "Manuprāt, mūsu sabiedrības attīstībai ļoti traucē arī morāls aspekts - "godīguma" (fairness) trūkums - gan attiecībā uz oficiālo tiesu varu, gan ikdienas dzīvi. Apziņa, ka nepieciešamības gadījumā, nebūs iespējama ātra, lēta un godīga (viens likums visiem, nekorumpēta, utt.) tiesa, manuprāt, ļoti negatīvi ietekmē cilvēku dzīves līmeni un vēlmi pilnveidoties, iesaistīties projektos, un tml. Bezspēcības sajūta - ka tev noteiktos gadījumos ir ļoti ierobežotas tiesības, ka ikdienas dzīvē bieži vien lietas tiks "sakārtotas" pēc "savējo" principa, nevis izvēloties labāko risinājumu vai kandidātu - tas viss iedzen apātijā."
with greetings from Tunisia (and no I am not on holidays - I live here now)
for more of my solutions welcome to visit: smartbsolutions.wordpress.com

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kā parasti anonīms 16.06.2011 00:15
Kāpēc ir pārliecība, ka "HC" nav oligarhu partija, un kā tā ir par "rule of law"?

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John W -> Jaņdžs 09.06.2011 12:48
This is something that has been bothering me for a while: I agree with you in that there is a sense in which the liberal argument has co-opted the values of rationality and objectivity - often unmerited and unchallenged - especially, it seems to me, in Latvia.

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Jaņdžs 09.06.2011 10:58
Re Davis: "Latvia is emotionally crippled by its history, and at present, it cannot move on from that history. The population is still so split along ethnic lines, that it cannot function as one unit, whilst both parts of the population are pulling in different directions."

I disagree that the country is split along ethnic lines as so many contend, but it is being split along these lines for the political advantage of Latvian politicians and their political parties and, possibly, by policies dictated from Moscow. The issue of "occupation" of Latvia by the Soviet Union is a case in point.

Moreover, it is not the Latvian people (of all ethnicities) who hinder their coming together as a nation, but the media. I know of no Latvian politicians, minister, media person, 'politologue', economists who have not condemned "populism" without ever explaining that he-she has an any understanding what it is and what positive and even necessary role (not only negative) it may play is the formation of a society.

The ignorance or pretention of ignorance by the Latvian public media with regard to the broad political movements presently taking place in the larger world acts as a force that 'dumbs down' the populist potential, never mind the media acting as an educational force. The Latvian media has positioned itself as a blatant agent on behalf of liberalism without ever coming close to examining and analyzing its effects on society.

A specific instance of "dumbing down" an audience is a show called Kas notiek Latvijā? (What is happening in Latvia?) Even last evening (Wed., 8/6), as the host of the show, Jānis Domburns, interviewed some of the organizers of a demonstration against corruption in government, corrupt oligarchs specifically, displayed either actual ignorance of the clash between liberal and commutarian values or, perceiving the organizers as political simpletons pretended ignorance to embarrass the organizers. This viewer was greatly discomforted and chagrined, and was tempted to target the screen of his tv with a shoe--not meant for the organizers of the demonstration, but Mr. Domburs for his smugness and undisguised support of liberalist theology.

Liberalism unleashed has no beef with corruption or banks running the government of Latvia or the world (globalization) for that matter, and any pretention of fairmindedness by the interviewer may be interpreted as being no more than a stealthy diversionary act on behalf of oligarchs.

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R 08.06.2011 14:35
Slava, excellent stuff; but, well, the very concept of the rule of law in a puppet state is a bit blurred, as it should be. Moreover, to me (and especially given the redneck-trololo comments in the thread) this looks more like well-executed shovel of smth on the fan.

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V Dombrovsky -> KasparsM 07.06.2011 14:09
I see. Well, point taken.

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KasparsM 06.06.2011 23:35
>> Audiences matter as much, if not more, than the messages.

Exactly. Your previous complaint was that writing this blog in Latvian (or Russian) would attract less educated and trolling audience. That may be true even though it isn't likely that this site becomes another delfi.lv irrespective of language used. But as you nicely explained, exclusion is a wrong policy in long term. It is better to give a chance to everyone.

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Davis 06.06.2011 11:15
If you allow a corrupt parliament to elect the president, then, surprise surprise, they will make a terrible choice and elect a corrupt incompetent president.

Latvia has a problem with people first and foremost. Even if true rule of law was possible without full inclusion of Russian speaking voters in the process, the country would still not be sucessful until the people problem was solved.

Latvia is emotionally crippled by its history, and at present, it cannot move on from that history. The population is still so split along ethnic lines, that it cannot function as one unit, whilst both parts of the population are pulling in different directions.

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John W 06.06.2011 10:57
So an independent central bank wouldn't have its own agenda?

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V Dombrovsky -> KasparsM 06.06.2011 09:41
And what aim will a Russian translation of this blog achieve?
Audiences matter as much, if not more, than the messages. All messages are, in the end, designed for specific audiences.

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yndi halda 04.06.2011 18:08
Es piekrītu Jūsu analīzei un iespējamajiem situācijas risinājumiem. Bet, sekojot šai loģikai, Jūsu blogam vajadzētu būt krievu valodā, nevis angļu, es to tā pa jokam, bet nevarēju neievērot, cik reti mēs darām to, ko runājam.

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KasparsM 04.06.2011 15:06
I agree with your analysis and possible solutions to the stalemate. But following this logic your blog should be in Russian not in English I mean it half seriously but I couldn't avoid noticing how rarely we practice what we preach. :)

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Art 03.06.2011 19:26
Paldies par kvalitatīvu rakstu.

Attiecībā uz "rule of law", manuprāt, negatīvā ietekme ir plašāka nekā tikai tā, kas rodas, nespējot nodrošināt īpašumtiesību aizsardzību. Manuprāt, mūsu sabiedrības attīstībai ļoti traucē arī morāls aspekts - "godīguma" (fairness) trūkums - gan attiecībā uz oficiālo tiesu varu, gan ikdienas dzīvi. Apziņa, ka nepieciešamības gadījumā, nebūs iespējama ātra, lēta un godīga (viens likums visiem, nekorumpēta, utt.) tiesa, manuprāt, ļoti negatīvi ietekmē cilvēku dzīves līmeni un vēlmi pilnveidoties, iesaistīties projektos, un tml. Bezspēcības sajūta - ka tev noteiktos gadījumos ir ļoti ierobežotas tiesības, ka ikdienas dzīvē bieži vien lietas tiks "sakārtotas" pēc "savējo" principa, nevis izvēloties labāko risinājumu vai kandidātu - tas viss iedzen apātijā. Kad liela daļa sabiedrības ir šādā stāvoklī, tam vajadzētu caur dažādiem kanāliem arī atspoguļoties tautsaimniecības attīstībā.

Līdzīgs viedoklis ir arī blogerim Steve Randy Waldman, viņš uztraucas par tieši šī "rule of law" aspekta pavājināšanos ASV un no tā izrietošajām sekām, saistībā ar finanšu krīzi:

"But something was new and terrible in 2008. That something has to do with the scale and overtness of the machinations. Formally, we did and do have strong overt norms about these things: Bank managers and shareholders enjoy bank profits in exchange for managing certain risks. When they fail to manage those risks, control of bank assets is expropriated in order to protect guaranteed creditors and the public interest.

Now everybody interested in the subject knows that these norms have occasionally been breeched, sometimes in big ways. But they were still the norm, and when they were breeched, it was done as quietly as possible and revealed over time in ways people very attentive to the business press might understand. It has always been understood to be a kind of corruption.

Americans generally believe their country to be relatively “clean”, but we all know that there is corruption. We know that sometimes local officials are on the take, that police occasionally abuse their authority and plant evidence, etc. But we are sophisticated enough to know that zero is not the standard by which we should judge the quality of our institutions. We think our country clean because we think these corruptions are the exception, not the rule. We take heart that if and when corruption reaches a certain level, when truly consequential corruption is exposed, we will energetically respond to punish it.

What happened in 2008 was analogous to learning that a mob boss had half the Senate on his payroll and having the attorney general shrug it off. Nothing would be new in any of that. We understand that some Senators are and have been corrupt, and we even know that sometimes deals have been made to hush that up within law enforcement. But it is a different kind of shock when large-scale corruption is overt and the body politic fails to respond

[...]

I spend a lot of time in Romania. In 2001, when I first went, I was in my neolib phase, about which I reminisced in this post. In Romania corruption is ubiquitous, and it frustrated the hell out of me. I did business there, and when it came up, I endured permitting delays and legal hassles to avoid paying bribes. But Romanians were very blasé about the whole thing. They all understood the country to be corrupt. It was a thing everybody knew, a public fact. Because it was a public fact, not any kind of an exception, an equilibrium took hold. They didn’t fight it, because it was a durable public fact. For the most part, they just paid the bribes. What’s the point of outrage?

In 2001, I thought in a decade, Romania would be more like the US. They were working to join the EU, empowering commission after commission “impotriva corruptie” in order to approach Western European norms.

In 2011, what I see is that the United States has approached Romania. When I talk to ordinary, non-financed-obsessed people, many of them now take for granted that our banks are above the law, that they always come out winners and are protected by the powerful, that the system is unfairly tilted. And in very Romanian style they shrug and get on with their lives. What’s the point of outrage?

Legally finessed corruption has become a durable public fact in the United States of America. The cost of this is incalculable."
[http://bit.ly/ljGPuU]

Šajā kontekstā es redzu situāciju Latvijā kā ļoti līdzīgu situācijai Rumānijā. Kāda ir izeja no šīs situācijas? Notikumi Latvijā pirms divdesmit gadiem mums parādīja, ka pat notiekot "major disruption", nomainoties režīmam, ekonomiskajai sistēmai un institūcijām, cilvēku gadiem piekoptās morālās vērtības izzūd ļoti lēni. Mūsu cerība bija, ka jaunajai paaudzei noaminot "padomju laika cilvēkus", parādīsie jaunas morālās vērtības mūsu sabiedrībā. Diemžēl, izskatās, ka tas nav noticis. Lai jauniešiem būtu citas vērtības, mums vajadzēja radīt sistēmu, kurā tie, kas par šīm vērtībām cīnās, netiktu apsmieti vai sodīti. Ja straume ir pārāk stipra, tad būs pārāk maz spēcīgu ideālistu, kas pret to cīnoties varētu to apturēt.

to savā nesenajā rakstā atzīmē arī Edvards Lūkass: "The real weakness in Latvia is not that the bad guys are strong, but that the good guys are few in number and weak. The political class is shallow, and many of the country's best and brightest regard politics as a distasteful and pointless circus. Until that changes, Latvia won't."
[http://bit.ly/kOGDEg]

Tas nebija un nav katra pilsoņa pienākums būt stipram un ikdienā aktīvi cīnīties. Bet, ja mēs vēlamies saglabāt SAVU (nevis oligarhu vai citu spēku vadītu), tad mums vismaz jāatbalsta šie cilvēki un jācenšas padarīt šo straumi vājāku.

Diemžēl, izskatās, ka pārliekā aizraušanās ar individuālās labklājības uzlabošanu (kas gan pēc padomju režīma sabrukuma pati par sevi samērīgā daudzumā bija ļoti nepieciešama un pozitīvi vērtējama lieta) tā vārdā bieži vien pieverot acis uz morālajām vērtībām ("lai jau zog, gan jau arī mums atleks", "balsošu par TP, man valsts pārvaldē daudz radinieku strādā", utt.) ir novedusi pie situācijas, kad cerības uz jaunām vērtībām mūsu sabiedrībā jāatliek vēl vismaz uz vienu paaudzi. Citējot SRW, "The cost of this is incalculable".

IMHO,
Art

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vel viens koments 03.06.2011 17:34
Krieviem patik domat, ka vinji esto “izslegti” un kas tur veel. Taas, atvainojiet, jau sen ir pilnigas muljkibas. Saskanjas Centrs kontrolee lielako Latvijas pilsetu. SC izlemj, kursh buus visos svariigakajos amatos Latvijaa jau ilgaku laiku. Bet atshkiribaa no Vienotibas vai PLL un ZZS, vinju motivacija nav skaidra. Kapec neviens neko nejautaa? Krievu veletajiem beidzot ir jaizbeidz sev melot par to, cik ljoti vinjus kads esot apbizhojis. SC jau sen ir dalja no sistemas, prasiet pirmkart no vinjiem atbildibu! Un grow up! Saprotams, ir vienkaarshi mierinat sevi ar domu, ka “latishi vse razvorovalji” un ar sho motivaciju nemaksat nodokljus un vadities pec principa “jo sliktak, jo labak”, bet patiesiba no shii pashapmana nemainas: krievi piedalaas procesaa jau sen.

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cba 03.06.2011 17:28
Nu tā SC ekonomikas programma jau nav tika slikta. Es ar abām rokām balsotu par nodokļu sloga noņemšanu no darba algām un tā vietā nekustamā īpašuma nodokļa palielināšanu. Bet praksē visa rīcība norāda uz to, ka SC ir nejēgas ekonomiskajā jomā. Rīgā 2011 gadā ir budžeta deficīts 12,5% (http://www.riga.lv/media/budzets/2011/02_BUDZ_11_1_piel.pdf) jeb 50 mlj. LS. Visi iekrājumi ir krīzes laikā notriekti, 2012. gadā Rīgas pašvaldības izdevumi būs radikāli jāmazina. Es pat teiktu, ka SC iekļūšana valdībā ir izšķirošs jautājums, jo savu popularitāti tie tuvāko 2 gadu laikā ievērojami zaudēs (gan krievu nacionālistu dēļ, gan sava ekonomiskā stulbuma dēļ). Līdz ar to SC pašlaik ir gandrīz vienīgā iespēja nokļūt pie varas valstī, tāpēc viņi ir gatavi uz jebko, lai šo iespēju nepalaistu garām, un izskatās, ka ZZS ir gatavi riskēt. Es domāju, ka tādā gadījumā daļa ZZS tradicionālo vēlētāju balsos par VL/TB-LNNK.
Par likuma varu - ļoti lielu negatīvo lomu ir spēlējuši oligarhi, rādot piemēru, ka var raust negodīgi naudu un nekas slikts par to nenotiek. Arī sabiedrības lielākā daļa to ir akceptējusi - vairākums vēlas saņemt algu aploksnē un bļaut, ka ļaunā valdība maksā nelielas pensijas veciem cilvēkiem. Arī Latvijas biznesa vidē cieņā ir klientu, piegādātāju un banku uzmešanas, viltus bankroti, apkrāpt kādu partneri ir goda lieta.
Kā risināt - nezinu, varbūt pat arī valsts bankrots nav slikta ideja, lai haosā cilvēki pēkšņi sāktu saprast, ka valsts nav nekāds ienaidnieks un ir pat nepieciešama tās kontrolējošā loma. Otrs variants būtu brutāli iesēdināt aiz restēm dažus visietekmīgākos oligarhus, sarīkot dažas skaļas paraugprāvas uzņēmumiem, kas nemaksā nodokļus, radikāli samazināt valsts pakalpojumus nodokļu nemaksātājiem - bet es šaubos, vai tas ir iespējams politiskās gribas trūkuma dēļ (arī SC ar savu labo ekonomikas programmu neies pret saviem potenciālajiem vēlētājiem).

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koments 03.06.2011 16:22
Ja, dalja latvieshi balso par t.s. "oligarhiem", tachu taa iisteniibaa nav problema. Taa tas, atvainojiet, ir visur pasaulee arpus Ziemeljeiropas. ASV nupat vel Donalds Trumps bija popularakais politikis. Tautas Partijas atskiriba no ASV republikanjiem iistenibaa ir minimala. Latvieshu pusee ir iestajusies zinama stabilitate, kas domaju tagad tada ari paliks: ASV izpratnee "demokratu" gals (Vienotiba vai whatever), un "republikanji" (Tautas Partija + ZZS). + Latvijas secifika - nacionaalisti. Un taa nav nekada problema, jo shads sadalijums ir sabiedribai pietiekami veseligs.

Problema ir:
1) vai tads ASV modelis vispar var stradat mazaa valstii. Es teiktu, ka nevar, mees noasinjosim no emigraacijas bruuceem, bet nu taa nav shii raksta teema.
2) otra problema ir krievvalodigais veletajs. Taa ir galvenaa Latvijas problema, lai man atvaino autors. Manuprat, Saskanjas Centrs netiek izslegts, iisteniibaa ir taisni otradi, vinjsh "izsledzas pats". Kaapeec? Gruti pateikt, tachu manuprat, vinji vienkarshi negrib iet kopaa ar nekadu ne-oligarhu partiju.

Kapec taa? Tapec, ka krievvalodigaja galaa zinashanu limenis par to, kas notiek Latvijaa ir minimals, daudz mazaks nekaa latvieshu. Taa rezultata, veleshanaas daudz vairak nekaa latvieshu vidu ir tikai viens vektors: "nashi - nenashi". Tas, savukart, dod milzigu ricibas brivibu visos citos jautajumos, iznjemot "krievu jautajumos". Un shii briviba logiski tiek izmantota lai gutu labumu sev. Kapec lai to nedaritu, ja veletajs par to i nedomaa sodit?

Vai problemai ir risinajums? Nav, kamer nemainisies pati krievu sabeidriba, beidzot kustoties prom no 5. kolonnas tipa domashanas, bet tas notiek ljoti leenaam, ja vispar. Liidz ar to, relax, peec 100 gadiem varbut bus labak...

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zoolander 03.06.2011 16:20
In my opininion HC is to be equally blamed for the systemic attempts to undermine the rule of law. They have a coalition with PLL in Riga municipality, don't they? So my question, addressed primarily to HC voters, is why is HC not being held accountable for their equally destructive decisions and actions? It would not be fair to conclude that all russian-speaking voters are against the rule of law. So perhaps they should have more options for whom to cast their vote.

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Komentētājs

Ahmeds 03.06.2011 15:36
_You might say I am quite pissed._
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No kādām filmām onkulis mācījies angļu valodu?

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Komentētājs

liberāls 03.06.2011 15:35
Pirms runāt par SC iekļaušanu valdībā vajag izvērtēt un izanalizēt šo te - http://www.rtfl.lv/
un it īpaši šo daļu - http://4938686231888947425-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.goo...

Kas notiks ar Latviju, ja būs īstenota kaut maza daļiņa no izklāstītas politikas ? Tas vairs nebūs nekāds joks.

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