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10,000 Latvians protest against corruption

About 10,000 people have rallied in the streets of the Latvian capital Riga to protest against Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis’ decision to suspend a top anti-corruption investigator.

The protesters are calling for early parliamentary elections that would lead to a change of the government.

“The politicians must remember that the parliament is not some kind of spaceship where they can step in and fly to the moon for next four years and make decisions that serve only theirs own interests. The nation sees, hears, analyses everything, and makes conclusions,” Latvian businessman Edgars Stelmahers noted.

It is the second large protest since investigator Aleksejs Loskutovs was suspended in September. He’d been looking into alleged donations to the Prime Minister’s People's Party at the time.

Loskutovs’ departure led other Cabinet members to resign, leaving Prime Minister Kalvitis' four-party coalition on the verge of collapse. The four resignations forced President Valdis Zatlers to urge the entire Cabinet to step down after Parliament votes on the budget next week.
President Zatlers made a surprise appearance at Saturday’s rally.

“Everything has to happen in accordance with the constitution…We should not play with democracy,” he said.

The opposition includes the liberal New Era party and two parties whose main support base is among the country’s Russian-speaking minority.  

Next year’s draft budget is being widely criticised since it will cut salaries and social benefits for public sector employees.

It's another reason why teachers, doctors, policemen, firefighters and pensioners are taking to the streets.