The Daugavpils City Council is governed now by the coalition between the Harmony party and Latvian Russian Union formed according to the result of the last municipal elections held in June 2021.
Aleksey Vasilyev has become the first vice mayor of the city on behalf of the Latvian Russian Union.
Speaking to Andrey Solopenko, Aleksey Vasilyev told, ”It happened so that the vote of the Latvian Russian Union turned out to be “golden”. To some extent, I see a certain sign in this. Many parties in the city have discredited themselves in one way or another – either by rabid nationalism, which borders with Nazism or terrible corruption. So the LRU in Daugavpils can be called a “fresh stream” in the political world”. He explained his decision to propose that the coalition would be formed with the Harmony, ”I felt that the use of the “golden voice” to bargain for some personal political interests would undermine the authority of our Party, its ideals and goals to which we aspire. I had to persuade our voters that there would be no “market bargaining”, so characteristic for the political system of Latvia. Therefore, I decided to take such a slightly unusual step by openly appealing to Andrei Elksniš, the leader of “Harmony” in Daugavpils, to create a coalition between the parties closest to the Russian voter”.
Answering the question on what platform the coalition between the Harmony party and the Latvian Russian Union is based, Aleksey Vasilyev stated, ”Our proposals were aimed at making the structures of the Daugavpils City Council work more efficiently. We have reached understadning with the Harmony fraction on that. The decision was made to cancel two committees as well as the position of the third vice-mayor. According to our estimation, thus the budget will save 240 thousand euros during our tenure”. He added that the decision was reached that vice mayors would not receive salaries if they also lead the city council committees. Aleksey Vasilyev, for instance, being the first vice-mayor will receive only the salary for doing this job, without additional payments for running the Committee on Education and Culture.
Aleksey Vasilyev is of the opinion that the council committees should be staffed with less number of people, ”I do not think it is right that the committee on culture has nine people on staff who become used to telling the youth what they should do instead of facilitating their initiatives”.
Speaking about other decisions made by the new city council, Aleksey Vasilyev described the move to suspend making the design of the Daugavpils airport as one of the most crucial the council made despite critics from such politicians as Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, the former minister of economics of Latvia. Aleksey Vasilyev explained his stance by stating that having examined the documents on the preliminary estimates of the airport construction, he concluded that it would require, at least, one hundred million euros. He said, ”It is apparent that there was no real intention to build the airport as neither Daugavpils, nor Riga nor the EU were going to allocate such money. There was no real investor and no one ever made a proposal to invest such money”.
At that, Aleksey Vasilyev noted that those who were developing the project of the airport design did it by making a loan of one million euro. He said, ”It is obvious that it was all meant to just misuse the recieved money which is why we immediately suspended the project”.
Aleksey Vasilyev positively concluded the interview telling of high prospects for Daugavpils to become “the cultural capital of Europe” in 2027. He said, ”The state allocates 10 million euros to organize it. The EU and the Latgale region are planning to provide the project with two more each. Most likely, we can raise about half a million euros more through sponsorship. The city plans to invest five million euros. Becoming the cultural capital of Europe, Daugavpils will be able to attract both tourists and business, which will clearly contribute to the development of the city and the region. The first results will be announced on August 8 and we will find out if we pass the second round”.