Ljudmilla Jantsenko takes over as acting mayor of Kohtla-Jarve

Kohtla-Järve linnavalitsus

PHOTO: Sulev Koppel / SL Õhtuleht

Jevgeni Solovjov, whose conviction for graft has become final, stopped serving in the position of mayor of Kohtla-Jarve on Tuesday and under the city's bylaws the duties are performed in an ad-interim capacity by Deputy Mayor Ljudmilla Jantsenko, regional newspaper Pohjarannik said.

The topic of replacing Solovjov was not discussed at Monday's meeting of the council of Kohtla-Jarve because it was only on Monday that the verdict for the mayor stepped into effect. On Wednesday seven members of the council issued a call for the council to gather for an emergency meeting in four days at the latest to release Solovjov from his office.

The chairman of the council, Riina Ivanova, said she doesn't believe that the new mayor could be elected at the same meeting.

«Nobody has made any proposals at this point. I'm waiting for them,» Ivanova said, adding that the new mayor is expected to be elected at the council's meeting on Sept. 28.

Ivanova ruled out the possibility that she might vie for the office of mayor herself.

Nor would MP Valeri Korb, head of the Center Party chapter for Kohtla-Jarve, offer any names.

Korb voiced appreciation of the job done by Solovjov during 13 years as mayor. «He and his team did a good job. I've got nothing to reproach him with,» the MP said.

Asked about his opinion about the punishment handed down to Solovjov, Korb said: «I don't find that his conviction was fair, it's a pity that the Supreme Court did not accept his appeal.»

Solovjov, 68, has said he intends to retire.

According to the Commercial Register, Solovjov has been a member of the Center Party since 2003.

The verdict handed to Solovjov and former Kohtla-Jarve deputy mayor Juri Kollo in October 2015 became final on Monday when the Supreme Court decided not to handle the men's appeal.

The Viru county court on Oct. 28, 2015 found Solovjov and Kollo guilty of corruption crimes. The court found Solovjov guilty of embezzlement, competition related offenses and offenses related to breach of the duty to maintain integrity, counterfeiting and using counterfeit documents, and misuse of trust. The court handed him a conditional jail sentence of five years with a probation period of five years.

According to the indictment, the board member of a company that provided services to the city of Kohtla-Jarve presented to the city government false information from September 2006 to August 2009 about maintenance, service and cleaning works performed. The reports were accepted by the city government for the payment of invoices. Besides acceptance and survey records concerning the works were falsified retroactively along with the budget presented by the company to the city government to conceal the unlawfulness of the payments in excess of the budgeted amount.

In 2009 the Kohtla-Jarve city government conducted tenders to find companies to perform various works and services, in the course of which the mayor allegedly misused his official position by creating favorable terms for entrepreneurs he knew, including to two companies.

With a population of more than 37,000, overwhelmingly Russian-speaking Kohtla-Jarve is the fifth biggest city of Estonia.