Mayor Ušakovs may swap Rīga for Brussels - LTV

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Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs intends to swap his powerful position heading the administration of the Latvian capital for a seat in the European Parliament, LTV reported February 25, based on unofficial and unconfirmed information.

LTV said that with just three months left until the European Parliament elections in May, the Saskaņa (Harmony) party made last-minute adjustments to its plans so that mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs and his former deputy, vice-mayor Andris Ameriks (Honor to Serve Riga party) will stand for election to the European Parliament.

No decision has yet been made as to whether the two will start on the "Harmony" electoral list, or it will be a joint list.

Last month, Harmony announced Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis as its choice to lead the European election list, though no other candidates were named. According to LTV, it appears Dombrovskis will no longer stand, which itself would constitute an embarrassing U-turn as it was Ušakovs himself who introduced him as Harmony's lead candidate.

Should the leaked information prove accurate, it would contradict previous statements by the mayor that he has no intention of running for the European Parliament. He did not run in last October's Saeima elections either - though he featured prominently on Harmony's posters during the campaign.  

Ušakovs and Ameriks have both come under pressure after a series of graft scandals were uncovered at the municipal Rīga Transport company. Though neither man has been charged as yet, both were subject to searches by anti-graft officers at their offices.

As previously reported by LSM, a large demonstration was recently staged to show support for the embattled mayor.  

LTV said Harmony's final electoral list will be submitted to the Central Election Commission next week.

On May 25, eight MEPs will be elected to the European Parliament from Latvia. Submission of candidate lists to the EP elections will take place from 6 to 21 March 2019.

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