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Valdis Zatlers

biography

Valdis Zatlers (born 22 March 1955) is a Latvian politician and former physician who served as the seventh president of Latvia from 2007 to 2011. He won the Latvian presidential election of 31 May 2007.[1] He became President of Latvia on 8 July 2007[2] and left office on 7 July 2011 after failing to win reelection for a second term. Contents [hide] 1 Medical career 2 Political career 3 Controversy 4 Personal life 5 Honours and awards 6 References 7 External links Medical career[edit] Valdis Zatlers is an orthopedic surgeon, who graduated from the Institute of Medicine in Riga in 1979. After studies he worked at Riga Hospital No. 2 and became chief of its traumatology unit in 1985. He was the director of the Latvian Traumatology and Orthopaedics Hospital from 1994 and chief of its board from 1998, he left these offices on 5 July 2007.[3] Zatlers participated in the cleanup operations after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. On 27 April 2007, he received the Order of the Three Stars (Trīs Zvaigžņu Ordenis) of the 4th rank for his contributions in care for health of the patients and promotion of orthopedics in Latvia.[4] Political career[edit] Valdis Zatlers was a board member of the Popular Front of Latvia in 1988–1989.[5] On 22 May 2007, the ruling parliamentary coalition of the Latvian Saeima officially nominated Zatlers as its presidential candidate.[6] Zatlers himself was not a member of any political party, but had signed the manifesto of the People's Party when the party was founded in 1998. In his TV speech on 28 May 2011 President Zatlers called for radical reforms to curb the corrupting influence of oligarchs. He accused lawmakers of being soft on corruption and announced that he would use his constitutional powers to initiate a referendum on the dissolution of the current Saeima. The formal cause of this decision was refusal of the parliament to sanction the search at the home of Ainārs Šlesers, a Saeima member and former minister.[7] Zatlers is the first President of Latvia to use these reserve presidential powers.[8] The Constitution of Latvia foresees that if the people will support Zatlers' decision, the Saeima will be dismissed and new parliament elections organized. On 2 June 2011 an MP from the Greens and Farmers' Union Andris Bērziņš defeated the incumbent Valdis Zatlers in presidential elections despite Zatlers previously having been widely expected to win the vote.[9] He founded the Reform Party in July 2011.[10] Controversy[edit] Before his election he confessed that as a doctor he had accepted private donations from his patients. Transparency International has questioned the legality of this practice.[11] Zatlers' supporters point out that donations of this form are accepted by many Latvian doctors. The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) characterized Zatlers' behaviour as improper and has said that it will not finalize its investigation of the matter for several months.[12] In July 2008, KNAB ruled that Zatlers hadn't violated the law by accepting these donations.[13] Opposing politicians have criticized Zatlers for not paying taxes on these gifts. The State Revenue Service, which had previously requested him to pay taxes on the gifts, unable to fine him for tax evasion, fined Zatlers 250 Lats for missing data in officials declaration.[14][15] In 2003, Zatlers was a subject of an investigation by KNAB anti-corruption office. The investigation was started based on a request by Āris Auders, a former subordinate of Zatlers who had become the Minister of Healthcare. Auders had accused Zatlers in buying low-quality spinal implants from companies run by Zatlers' wife and the deputy director of Zatlers' hospital. The investigation cleared Zatlers of all charges.[16] Personal life[edit] Valdis Zatlers is married to Lilita Zatlere and has three children. Other than his native language, he is fluent in English and Russian. Honours and awards[edit] Order of the Three Stars Class I with Chain (2008) Order of Viesturs class I (2008) Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav ("For outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship and development co-operation between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Latvia." – 2 September 2008) Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise First Class (Ukraine, 2008) Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (Estonia, 2009) Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Spain, 2009) Order of Saint George (Georgia, 2009) Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose (2010) Grand Cross with Golden Chain of the Order of Vytautas the Great (Lithuania, 2011) Honorary doctorates of Yerevan State University (2009), John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (2010) and the Riga Stradiņš University in Riga (2010) Order of Liberty (Ukraine, 26 April 2011)

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