Oļegs Burovs becomes new mayor of Rīga

Rīga gained its third mayor of the year August 19 with the election of Oļegs Burovs of the Honor to Serve Rīga party to the post.

Following a marathon and frequently bad-tempered sitting of the city council, Burovs was elected chairman of the Riga City Council and hence mayor, with the support of 35 deputies.

At the start of the meeting Burovs stated that he did not want to create a wall between the opposition and the coalition in his future work, but to build a cooperative relationship. However, this didn't last long with Burovs caught responding in an annoyed manner to repeated questions from opposition deputies about his track record within municipal structures.

Burovs has previously held the positions of the Deputy Chairman of the Riga City Council, the Chairman of the Riga City Council City Property Commission and the Chairman of the Riga City Council Commission on Environmentally Friendly Building.

For almost ten years, Burovs headed the Riga City Council Property Department.

Speaking on LTV's Morning Panorama news show August 20 in a blue checked sports jacket, the newly-installed mayor said the ceremonial mayoral chain was "really heavy... and very long - maybe [basketball star Kristaps] Porziņģis could wear it... but seriously, very good, and thank God that after so many hours until the council process came to an end, we can organize work normally."

"The main task is to regain the trust of Rīgans, in both the position and the opposition," he averred, criticizing opposition councillors who had grilled him for five hours and then left before the vote as doing it "just for show."

Just 12 of a total 60 deputies voted for rival candidate Viesturs Zeps (For Latvia's Development party), with Zeps summoning up support from his own party and the National Alliance while councillors from the New Conservative and Unity parties refused to participate in the vote.

Burovs attracted support from his own Honor to serve Rīga deputies, its long-time partners in the Harmony party as well as various independent deputies and splinter factions from those two parties.

The vote will result in at least two big changes in the mayor's office: Kuzya and Muris, the celebrity cats of former mayor Nils Ušakovs, will have to seek employment elsewhere as Burovs has a cat allergy. An initial encounter did not go well (see below).

Rīga city council has been in a state of turmoil since April when then-mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony) was suspended while corruption scandals unfolded at the municipal transport company, though he has not been charged with any offense. Ušakovs then announced he was stepping down to fight for a seat in the European parliament alongside his deputy mayor Andris Ameriks, who switched from Honor to Serve Rīga to Harmony to do so. Both men secured seats in Brussels.

At the end of May, Dainis Turlais of Honor to serve Rīga was installed as mayor, but resigned after just three weeks after a split among Harmony party councillors saw his support reduced.

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