Latvian President Andris Berzins has been officially sworn in to office, taking over as head of state from outgoing President Valdis Zatlers.
Before becoming president, Berzins was a member of parliament and a prominent businessman. He has worked extensively in the banking sector and has served as the head of national energy company Latvenergo.
He is a multi-millionaire with numerous land holdings around the country. After being voted into office he was criticized in the media for ties to the country’s oligarchs.
Zatlers came into office four years ago after a long and distinguished career as a doctor, specializing in brain surgery.
Shortly after being elected into office he faced a number of scandals, most notably over his having accepted under-the-table “envelope payments” from patients.
After overcoming these initial difficulties, Zatlers went on to become a strong leader who was viewed favorably by many in the country.
The apex of his term as president came just a week before the presidential elections, when he became the first president since regaining independence to use his power to dissolve parliament after lawmakers voted to protect a well-known oligarch from a corruption investigation.
Zatlers has mentioned that he will likely join party politics now that he is no longer president. Many speculate that he will form his own political party. By The Baltic Times Staff (7/8/2011)