Latvia has a new culture minister – Saeima approves Nauris Puntulis for the job

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Latvia’s parliament has appointed ex-Riga City Council deputy, opera singer Nauris Puntulis for the post of culture minister of Latvia with 63 votes in favour and 20 votes against.

It is worth mentioning that only Harmony’s members and non-faction deputy Jūlija Stepaņenko, who was originally a member of Harmony, voted against Puntulis as a culture minister candidate.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš reminded in his speech addressed to the Saeima that construction of the National Concert Hall is included in the government declaration. He added that Puntulis with push the construction of the concert hall forward.

Vita Anna Tērauda (AP) said Puntulis is a good candidate to replace Dace Melbārde, adding that he will be able to maintain culture infrastructure. He also reminded that Culture Ministry is responsible for enhancing the media space, adding that he hopes there will be sufficient funding for public media.

Nikolajs Kabanovs stressed in his debate speech that the new minister will have to follow party positions to remain a minister for a long time. He also said Puntulis has controversial rhetoric in relation to the largest group of national minorities in Latvia. Kabanovs also said he regrets Culture Ministry has been under the National Alliance for several terms, stressing that this is discriminatory.

Puntulis was once the singer for Pērkons rock band. In the 90s he became a singer for Latvia’s National Opera. From 1995 to 200 he was the head of Latvian Academy of Music solo singing faculty.

He graduated from Latvian Academy of Music with Master’s degree in singing and teaching.

Since 2013 he has been working in Riga City Council as a deputy.

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