Maxima Tragedy. Call for Action!
H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė
President of the Republic of Lithuania
S. Daukanto a. 3
LT 01122, Vilnius
Dear Madame President,
Last week „Maxima” supermarket collapsed in Riga, taking with it 54 innocent lives. The biggest tragedy since restoration of Latvia’s independence has shaken our society to it’s core and deeply affected each of us. Latvian Prime Minister has stepped down, taking full responsibility for what happened. We still mourn our dead. We were thankful and touched by Lithuanian show of solidarity when you declared the day of mourning on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the behaviour of the management of „ Maxima” chain and „Vilnius Prekyba” has been not only disgraceful: it is appalling. Their employees died but „Maxima” did not closed the shops even for the day. News are surfacing about the slave-like conditions of their local workforce which might have contributed to their decision not to leave their work places after the emergency signal was sounding and thus meet their death. „Maxima” security company did not evacuated shoppers after emergency signal and it cost their lives: because that was the instruction of „ Maxima”. The Latvian police have yet to decide if this behaviour is criminal. In my eyes it is.
Meanwhile, the CEO of „Maxima Latvija” today announced that „only people who feel guilty are stepping down”.
The reaction of the „Maxima” leadership threatens to not only adversely affect economic ties between Latvia and Lithuania, but also to harm the good relations between our two nations and peoples.
Madame President, we all have heard the statements that governments can do nothing about the forces of the market. However, when these forces in the name of profit and from the fear of civil lawsuits are acting beyond what is accepted in our societies, we all shall act. I will boycott „Maxima” and call on my relatives and friends to do the same.
I call on you, Madame President, to utilize all available means to address the ill behaviour of the „Maxima” management and to stop a possible tide of anti-Lithuanian sentiment in Latvia. The Latvian people now need to feel that the Lithuanian leadership is on their side. We should not allow the irresponsible actions of a few Lithuanian nationals to harm the relations between our two countries.