Ušakovs and Rubiks removed from board of Harmony

Former Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs, now a European Parliament member and chairman of Harmony, and veteran politician Alfrēds Rubiks have been removed from the board of Harmony, according to an announcement published in the official gazette Latvijas Vestnesis. 

Ušakovs has held the post of Harmony Center chairman in the past. 

The alliance has decided to appoint new members to the board of Harmony. The alliance's board now also includes Valērijs Agešins, Jānis Urbanovičs and Artūrs Rubiks who are members of the Harmony group in Saeima. 

The Harmony Center alliance in fact comprises three political parties: Harmony, the Socialist Party of Latvia and the Daugavpils City Party. The alliance was established in 2005. In 2011, the Daugavpils City Party merged with Harmony. 

Ušakovs became Rīga mayor July 1, 2009 and held the office, one of the most powerful positions in the country, for a decade. A charismatic but polarizing leader, he managed to stay in the limelight throughout the years, enjoying unwavering loyalty particularly among Russian speakers. But he was beleaguered on multiple fronts through his third term which started in 2017. 

Amidst a number of corruption scandals at municipal companies, the city council under Ušakovs was raided repeatedly by anti-graft officials, though he himself has not been charged with any crimes. It did however raise serious questions about his oversight. In addition, Ušakovs recently lost a defamation case which he brought against the Re:Baltica investigative journalism group. 

Ušakovs was elected as an MEP under the Harmony ticket, part of the Party of European Socialists, though on many issues Harmony is far from the European social democratic mainstream. Harmony scored two seats, receiving 17.45% of the vote, 2.4% down from the support it garnered in the 2018 parliamentary election.

After Ušakovs confirmed his Brussels run in February along with former vice-mayor Andris Ameriks (also elected under the Harmony ticket), he 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, Rīgas Satiksme.

Ušakovs was suspended April 5, 2019 by the Environment Minister for perceived non-fulfillment of statutory obligations and violations of regulatory enactments

Meanwhile Rubiks is a legendary figure in Latvian politics. He served as the Chairman of the city of Riga from 1984 to 1990, effectively the last Communist mayor of the city.

As head of the Communist Party of Latvia in 1991 he opposed Latvia's independence from the Soviet Union and was imprisoned in July 1995 for his role in attempting to overthrow the then new democratic government and supporting the August 1991 coup d'état attempt in Moscow.

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