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Vitoliņš succeeds jailed Lembergs as Ventspils mayor

Take note – story published 2 years and 10 months ago

Members of Ventspils City Council on Monday elected former vice-mayor Jānis Vitoliņš (For Latvia and Ventspils) the new mayor of Ventspils, the LETA newswire was told at the town hall.

Vitoliņš ran against rival candidate Bruno Jursevics of the New Conservative Party (JKP) in the mayoral election.

Vitoliņš was elected Ventspils mayor by seven votes and five abstentions.

Five councilors voted for Jurševics, six voted against him and one councilor abstained.

On July 1, councilors' attempt to re-elect long-standing Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, despite the fact he is serving a prison sentence, failed, and the city council's meeting was suspended. Lembergs was the only candidate originally nominated for Ventspils mayor. Six council members voted for him, while the other six voted against, said Vitolins.

In June 5 local elections, For Latvia and Ventspils won seven seats on Ventspils City Council, For Latvia's Development, New Unity and Latvian Association of Regions - two seats each, and the New Conservative Party and National Alliance - one seat each.

As reported, Riga Regional Court on February 22 slapped a five-year jail term, confiscation of property and a EUR 20,000 fine on Lembergs for offences involving money laundering and bribery.

Despite being described as an oligarch by US law enforcement agencies and being subject to US sanctions, and then being convicted at the end of an astonishingly protracted court case, Lembergs was able to run in June's municipal elections and the people of Ventspils appeared to brush aside any concerns about electing a convicted criminal to represent their city. 

Lembergs had been mayor of Latvia's sixth-largest city, since 1988.

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