Rīga mayor Ušakovs confirms Brussels run

Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs, one of Latvia's highest-profile politicians, confirmed February 26 that he will run in European parliamentary elections in May.

LTV had broken the story 24 hours earlier, leading to a day of speculation about his motives for the sudden change of direction.

In his announcement of his candidacy, Ušakovs tried to counter the suggestion that he is hoping to evade the clutches of a major anti-graft investigation involving the Rīga municipal transport company, Rigas Satiksme by fleeing to Brussels.

"If I had any problems with Rīgas satiksme I would have made a decision on resigning earlier," Ušakovs said. 

Standing next to Ušakovs, and also hoping to book a ticket to Brussels was Andris Ameriks, his former vice-mayor from the Honor to Serve Rīga party and still a board member at Rīga port. The partners in ambition said they intended to operate a joint party list in the elections.

However, it remains to be seen what the Party of European Socialists, of which Harmony is a member, would think of having the business-oriented Ameriks and his party's "principles based upon Christian values" on its voting lists. 

Honor to Serve Rīga said in a separate announcement that two other candidates would stand in the European elections: Dainis Turlais (currently head of Rīga city council's anti-corruption committee and therefore also involved in the Rīgas Satiksme case) and academic Ausma Cimdiņa. 

Meanwhile, Vyačeslavs Dombrovskis, unveiled as Harmony's lead candidate for the European elections last month by Ušakovs, was forced to admit that his colleague had now effectively elbowed him out of the way.

"It is in the interests of the party to have strong candidates. If one goes to Brussels, I must stay here," Dombrovskis commented.

The approval of the party list will be decided on Thursday, February 28th. 

Then the question of who will take over the post of mayor of Riga will need to be resolved, with no clear successor yet evident, though extravagantly coiffured former Health Minister Baiba Rozentāle has been mentioned as one possibility. The question of who will take Ameriks' lucrative position at the head of Rīga port will also need to be addressed.

European elections take place in Latvia on May 25. 

Politics
Politics