Nils Ušakovs (Russian: Нил Валерьевич Ушаков, Nil Valeryevich Ushakov) (born June 8, 1976) is Russian-Latvian politician and former journalist. Since 2014 he is the leader of Harmony, which enjoys the support of Latvia's large ethnic Russian population. From November 2005 – 2014 he was the leader of the left-wing party alliance, Harmony Centre. He was elected as a Member of the 9th Saeima in 2006. Following the June 2009 local elections in Latvia, the majority coalition of Harmony Centre and LPP/LC factions in the Riga City Council nominated Ušakovs for the position of the Chairman of the City Council, effectively the Mayor of Riga. On July 1, during the first meeting of the newly formed council, Ušakovs was elected its chairman. He became the first Mayor of Riga of Russian descent since Latvia's restoration of sovereignty in 1991. Ušakovs' popularity among Rigans had grown steadily, and 73% of the city's residents approved of Ušakovs' performance in December 2010.
Ušakovs was born in Riga into the family of an engineer and an amateur jazz musician (father) and a literature and Russian language teacher (mother). During his childhood, Ušakovs considered a military career, perhaps influenced by his family's history: both of his grandparents were army officers who fought in World War II, and many of his ancestors were involved in the Russian Civil War. Ušakovs graduated from the University of Latvia in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He became a naturalized citizen of Latvia during the same year. He then lived and studied in Denmark, where he received a master's degree in economics and European integration from the University of Southern Denmark in 2002. Aside from his native Russian, Ušakovs is fluent in Latvian and English, with basic knowledge of Swedish, Danish and German.
From 1998 to 2005, Ušakovs had occupied various position with the Russian and Latvian media, including NTV (1998–1999), Latvijas Televīzija (1999–2000), TV5 (2001–2004) and the Channel One Baltic (2004–2005), where he worked as a news editor. In 2004, Ušakovs, for his contribution to journalism, was conferred the Cicero Award, established by the University of Latvia and the Latvian Associations of Journalists.
In 2005, Ušakovs' friend Jānis Urbanovičs made an invitation to join the National Harmony Party, which Ušakovs accepted. The party soon entered the Harmony Centre alliance, with Ušakovs elected its leader. He became a Saeima member after the 2006 Latvian parliamentary election, his alliance winning 17 seats (the third best result). The alliance positions itself as the only political force in the country promoting cooperation between the ethnic Latvians and Russians. Ušakovs has argued that this is the only way to achieve fuller integration of the Russian-speaking population, as opposed to political parties catering to the interests of only one ethnicity.
The Harmony Centre was the winner of the June 6, 2009 local election in Riga, securing 26 out of 60 seats. It entered a coalition with Ainārs Šlesers' LPP/LC party, which won 12 seats. Ušakovs and Šlesers were nominated for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor respectively, a move approved by the new city council on July 1.
Ušakovs' inauguration was marred by a small controversy: the previous mayor, Jānis Birks of the right-wing, national conservative For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party, which failed to win any seats, did not participate in the traditional ceremony of passing the chain of office to the new mayor. Birks' press secretary claimed that it was not due to an ideological conflict or a grudge, but because Birks was away from the city on that day.
Ušakovs sees strengthening of ties with Russia, particularly in the realms of freight transit through the Riga free port and tourism, as a solution to Riga's economic troubles, as Latvia was hit especially hard by the financial crisis of 2007–2010. During his campaign for the Riga’s City Council, Ušakovs also argued for more emphasis on education of Latvia’s population and protection of vital local industries.
On Sunday, May 22, 2011 Ušakovs took part in the Riga Marathon half marathon event. Shortly before the finish line Ušakovs collapsed on the track. He was immediately placed in intensive care at Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital with signs of severe hyperthermia. Ušakovs was placed in an induced coma state. On May 25 he was transported to Berlin for further treatment at the Charité Hospital. The spokesperson for the mayor said the German medics had offered their help because of their expertise in treating similar cases. The Latvian medical authorities had previously declared his condition "serious but stable." In May 29, the doctors noted positive changes in his condition and started medical procedures to awaken him from the induced coma state. He fully recovered in the following weeks.