Ventspils' mask-free sanctioned mayor joyfully leads Xmas gathering

Aivars Lembergs, the Latvian politician described by the U.S. Treasury as a corrupt oligarch and subjected to sanctions as a result, made himself even more controversial November 28 by leading a mass advent gathering in the town he has run for more than two decades, without wearing a mask.

The diminutive kingpin, noted for his mismatched conception of sartorial elegance and obsessively self-regarding online musings, was all smiles as he gave residents of the burg the benefit of his mask-free presence.

Surrounded by children who seemed closer than two metres away from him, Lembergs lit up a Christmas tree and announced that an illuminated train would be rolling along the city streets throughout the festive period to promote feelings of delight among those not in quarantine or hospitalised by the continued spread of the deadly virus.

Video shows a clearly excited Lembergs joining young children as he leads a countdown to switching on the Christmas tree lights in the industrial port city.

Despite the presence of the mayor, police and the advance publicity given to the lighting of the Christmas tree on the official municipal website, the gathering was described as unofficial in nature. Official events on such a scale require very strict adherence to anti-COVID protocols.

14 patients are currently being treated in hospital in Ventspils for symptoms of the coronavirus. A total of 43 patients have been treated there since September 10, of whom 5 have died. 

Pictures posted online of the unofficial event on the official municipal website show that for the occasion Lembergs wore his trademark broad-brimmed mustard Borsalino hat twinned with an imperial purple and manadrin silk scarf and a hooded half-length duffel coat in rust brown with startling electric blue and purple plaid.

Ventspils mērs Aivars Lembergs bez maskas iededz pilsētas egli.

As previously reported by LSM, it is almost exactly a year since the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Lembergs, describing him thus:

"Latvian oligarch Aivars Lembergs (Lembergs) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official responsible for or complicit in, or directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery."

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