|7th President of Latvia|
8 July 2007 - 8 July 2011
|Born||22 March 1955|
|Political party||Independent (Before 2011)|
Reform Party (2011-present)
|Alma mater||Riga Stradi University|
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. He became President of Latvia on 8 July 2007 and left office on 7 July 2011 after failing to win reelection for a second term.
Valdis Zatlers is an orthopedic surgeon, who graduated from the Institute of Medicine in Riga in 1979. After his studies he worked in 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.
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 (Tr?s Zvaigu Ordenis) of the 4th rank for his contributions in care for health of the patients and promotion of orthopedics in Latvia.
Valdis Zatlers was a board member of the Popular Front of Latvia in 1988-1989. On 22 May 2007, the ruling parliamentary coalition of the Latvian Saeima officially nominated Zatlers as its presidential candidate. 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 the parliament's refusal to sanction a search at the home of Ain?rs ?lesers, a Saeima member and former minister. Zatlers was the first President of Latvia to use these reserve presidential powers. Under the relevant sections of the Constitution of Latvia if the voters had supported Zatlers' decision, the Saeima would have been dismissed and new parliament elections organized.
On 2 June 2011 an MP from the Greens and Farmers' Union, Andris B?rzi, defeated the incumbent, Valdis Zatlers, in presidential elections despite Zatlers having previously been expected to win the vote.
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. 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 would not finalize its investigation of the matter for several months. In July 2008, KNAB ruled that Zatlers hadn't violated the law by accepting these donations.
Politicians 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.
In 2003, Zatlers was the subject of an investigation by KNAB, Latvia's anti-corruption office. The investigation was started based on a request by ?ris Auders, a former subordinate of Zatlers who had become the Minister of Healthcare. Auders had accused Zatlers of 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.