Ušakovs steps down as mayor of Rīga

Suspended Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony) has stepped down as Rīga mayor, he said on Facebook May 29. According to LTV, a new mayor could be elected as early as May 30.

Ušakovs wrote on Facebook that he is stepping down from the post he has held for a decade with the support of Rīgans and his team. "Our team will promptly elect a new mayor and continue the work that we started in 2009," he said. He likewise said that he would continue court action in order to prove that his suspension was illegal.

He confirmed to LTV that Harmony will support the candidate of the allied Honor to Serve Rīga (GKR) party to take his seat. 

While GKR also on May 29 officially confirmed councilor and former MP Dainis Turlais as its candidate for Rīga mayor. 

Ušakovs became Rīga mayor July 1, 2009 and has held this office, one of the most powerful positions in the country, ever since. A charismatic but polarizing leader, he managed to stay in the limelight throughout the years, enjoying unwavering loyalty with 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. In addition, Ušakovs recently lost a defamation case which he brought against the Re:Baltica investigative journalism group. 

Ušakovs has been elected as a 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 (GKR, 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

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