President shadowed to Castle renovations and meeting with PM

President Andris Bērziņš was followed along the course of his daily duties Wednesday by nine young ‘shadows’ – high-schoolers from different places around the country.

Given that they would be spending the day together, the President first got acquainted with Rīga students Eduards Lapiņš, Rainers Svoks, Ņikita Kovaļovs, Elizabete Pabērza and Kristīne Lindberga, as well as more distant visitors Elīza Anna Vilaua from Jelgava, Pauls Ernests Putniņš from Priekuļi, Sigita Kļava from Madona and Dmitrijs Jaunzems from Daugavpils. He answered their questions about his traditional daily activities and spoke of his experience and feelings, his favorite people and issues in world politics and current events.

Then they tagged along to the Riga Castle, the President’s official workplace, where renovations have proceeded to the 85% mark towards completion, according to restoration council chair Imants Lancmanis, who is in charge of the works at the historic Old Town fortress structure. President Bērziņš is currently temporarily relocated with his entire Chancery to Riga’s Blackheads’ House while the Riga Castle undergoes its major restoration.

All of the damage from the June 20, 2013 roof fire has been renewed and work is proceeding apace on previously scheduled renovations. The President had been invited by the council and state Real Estate Agency to inspect the works and assess plans for their completion, scheduled at this point for November 1 of this year.

The cost of the works has been estimated to reach €34.45 million. About 250 workers are currently active on average on any given day at the Riga Castle, not including between 60 and 70 restorers of artifacts and furnishings working in shops offsite.

Berzins said he saw that work was continuing on schedule, adding he hoped that the results would be for "everyone to enjoy for at least fifty years to come."

Later after their inspection of the Castle, the President and his shadows met with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and took part in the press conference that followed.

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