'Safety Crime' in Neoliberal Post-communist Society: The collapse of the Maxima supermarket in Riga, Latvia
Published: January 2014
Keywords: Maxima supermarket collapse, Latvia, Baltic states, Riga, austerity, post-communism, neoliberalism, deregulation, austerity, 'safety crime', corporate
JEL classification: K320, J28, P390, P160
The causes of disaster, both immediate and underlying, that resulted in 54 fatalities in Riga in November 2013 are analyzed in this paper. The collapse of the Maxima supermarket is seen as a safety failure resulting from longer-term deregulation in Latvia encouraged by external advisors such as the World Bank and the EU, and the specific crisis-induced drive to minimize regulation by local political actors, especially in the aftermath of ongoing austerity. The paper raises the issue of what is a ‚safety crime‘ in the context of post-communist Baltic states, and asks whether the notion of ‚corporate killing‘ or corporate manslaughter is applicable to the circumstances of the disaster. The paper suggests the need to establish accountability for social harms caused by the unfettered pursuit of private profit over public safety.