Andrejs Žagars
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Debts of the National Opera House and Financial Violations

During the period while A.Žagars was responsible for the administration of the National Opera House (LNO), it repeatedly addressed the Ministry of Culture and the Cabinet of Ministers with the requests to allocate extra recourses in order to secure the operation of the Opera House, yet A.Žagars took the reprimand for violating financial discipline. In the autumn of 1998, when information about the heavy debts appeared publicly, Minister of the Culture of the day Ramona Umblija (Latvian Farmer’s Union, LFM/LZS) reprimanded A.Žagars for not providing financial, legal and administrative operation of the LNO according to the law. Internal auditors of the Ministry established illegally determined supplements for the employees, unprofitable contracts with the sponsors and other violations.

In September 1999 tax liabilities of the LNO reached LVL 1.9 million  and government of Andris Šķēle (People’s Party) warned A.Žagars about the violation of the financial discipline. Minister of Culture Karina Pētersone (Latvian Way) supported A.Žagars. Although she reprimanded A.Žagars for violating his employment contract, Minister acknowledged that LNO funds are insufficient; and praised Opera House for its artistic performance. Moreover, at that moment no financial violations were found by the State Audit Office and the Ministry of Culture.
In 2009 LNO owed the state several hundreds of thousands lats of Personal Income Tax and Mandatory State Social Insurance Contributions. A.Žagars justified situation with the consequences of economic crisis when the number of audience dramatically decreased. To cover the tax liabilities, half of the milllion lats were allocated from the resources of unforeseen circumstances.

Tax liabilities were reported also at the end of 2011 when the Minister of Culture Žaneta Jaunzeme-Grende (National Alliance), contrary to the decision of the selection commission, decided not to reappoint A.Žagars as a Chairman of the Board. Even though he was appointed in a position later, in the autumn of 2013 Ž.Jaunzeme-Grende dismissed him on the basis of the loss of confidence. Decision of the Minister was criticised by many culture sector representatives and was one of the reasons why Minister had to resign. Several months later the new board of the LNO reported shortages in financial operations found by the audit. Budget was spent on other purposes that initially scheduled and expenses of the new productions and royalties were considerably exceeded. A.Žagars pointed out that audit findings are no in his disposition, accordingly he cannot give any comments.

Kozule, E. Umblija: Opera ir parādu apburtajā lokā. Leta. 08.09.1998
Ponomarova, D. Ministru kabinets izsaka brīdinājumu Operas direktoram. Leta. 19.10.1999
Kozule, E. Kultūras ministre izsaka rājienu Operas direktoram par finanšu disciplīnas neievērošanu. Leta. 26.10.1999
Kozule, E., Bagātais, J. Valdība piešķir 500 000 latu Nacionālās operas nodokļu parāda segšanai. Leta. 08.12.2009
Kultūras ministre: Audits pierāda ilgstošu nesaimnieciskumu operā. 15.02.2014
A.Žagara viedoklis par LNO auditu. [skatīts 10.03.2014]

Determining LNO Expenses as a Commercial Secret

On 17 September 2010 Director of the LNO A.Žagars issued an order stipulating that content of all contracts containing terms of parties are not public to the third parties and are considered commercial secret. Such status was specified for the contracts with directors of guest performances and other artists and for the plans of new productions before they are published in the calendar. Order provided that Director of LNO can also declare disclosure of other information as a commercial secret if it can incur losses to the LNO. Former Minister of Culture Sarmīte Ēlerte (Unity) required to cancel this order. The Minister pointed out that it does not comply with the principles of good governance and transparency and that A.Žagars interpreted legal acts unjustifiably broadly thus restricting access to information. The Minister drew attention to the fact that Opera is not a private entity but fulfils cultural functions and assignments delegated by the state; therefore information regarding use of financing allocated by the state cannot be a secret.

A month later, with the agreement of the Ministry of Culture, LNO approved a new order about the access of the list of restricted information and measures of its protection. This permitted to restrict disclosure of information that „may threaten international competitiveness of LNO and its activities at international arena and where restricted access shall be justified by the effective Law”. Hereby, upon request of the authors’, guest artists and authors’ royalties could be confidential, though in this case information shall be provided as a summary or covering part of information related to the personal identity. Similarly Director of LNO was prohibited to grant a status of restricted access information to „any other information" as he had beforehand. Moreover granting of the commercial secret status was responsibility of the other contracting party, not LNO.

Kozule, E. Ēlerte uzdod Latvijas Nacionālajai operai atcelt rīkojumu par komercnoslēpuma noteikšanu. Leta. 04.01.2011
Kozule, E. Kultūras ministre un Nacionālās operas direktors vienojas par "atklātības principiem". Leta. 01.02.2011

Participation on the People’s Party „positivism campaign”

Before the parliamentary elections in 2006, non-governmental organisation For Freedom of Speech, whose founders and sponsors were closely related with the People’s Party – Jurģis Liepnieks and Andris Šķēle –financed preparation and broadcasting of the advertisements in Latvian radio stations and television. Those advertisements included individuals representing the fields of medicine, culture and science praising a number of politicians form People’s Party that ran as a candidates in parliamentary elections. Director of the National Opera House A.Žagars, subordinated to the Ministry of Culture, appeared on the TV and radio praising the Minister of Culture Helēna Demakova. The Supreme Court indicated that expenses of the non-governmental organisation related to the advertisements of the People’s Party and its members were rightly regarded as part of the parties’ pre-election campaign. Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau deemed that People’s Party has violated legally established pre-election campaign expenditure cap and ordered the party to pay back one million lats to the state budget. Management of the People’s Party took a decision to wind it up and announced its insolvency; hence the state did not receive the money.

Kārkliņa, D. TP ministru reklāmas veido Liepnieka un Rolšteina dibināta biedrība. Leta. 06.07.2006.
Tomsone,D. Tiesa izbeidz Tautas partijas maksātnespējas procesu. 24.04.2012


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Last changes 15.12.2014

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