Jailbird Lembergs not elected Ventspils mayor from behind bars

The current Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs (For Latvia and Ventspils), the number one candidate on For Latvia and Ventspils' winning ticket in the latest municipal elections in the city, was not elected mayor of Ventspils during the city council's first meeting since the elections July 1, For Latvia and Ventspils board chairman Janis Vitolins told LETA.

Despite being described as an oligarch by US law enforcement agencies and being subject to US sanctions, and then being convicted on charges involving bribery and money-laundering at the end of an astonishingly protracted court case, Lembergs was able to run in June's municipal elections and the people of Ventspils appeared to brush aside any concerns about electing a convicted criminal to represent their city. 

Lembergs was the only candidate nominated for Ventspils mayor. Six council members voted for him, while the other six voted against, said Vitolins.

Ventspils City Council's next meeting will be on July 5, said Vitolins. In the meantime, For Latvia and Ventspils board will have a meeting to seek a solution to the current stalemate.

"We will begin political consultations with council members from other parties to agree on further action. It would be very irresponsible if the council's work was delayed because no mayor has been elected," said Vitolins.

At the latest local elections, For Latvia and Ventspils won seven seats on Ventspils City Council, For Latvia's Development, New Unity and Latvian Association of Regions - two seats each, and the New Conservative Party and National Alliance - one seat each.

As reported, Riga Regional Court on February 22 slapped a five-year jail term, confiscation of property and a EUR 20,000 fine on Lembergs.

Lembergs was arrested in the courtroom. The court, however, took into account the time Lembergs had already spent in arrest - from March 14 until July 10, 2007, and in house arrest - from July 10, 2007, until February 22, 2008.

 

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