From 2008–2009 he was a member of the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), and from 2000–2007 he was the Mayor of Vilnius.
Zuokas graduated from the secondary school in Jonava. He then worked as an independent reporter for Independent Television News as a war reporter in Iraq, where he taped the bombing of the Baghdad TV Tower during the First Gulf War. In August 1991, he brought recently captured footage from the site of the Medininkai Massacre to the official meeting between the president of the United States George Bush and Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, which caused concern from the American side about the use of force against freedom-seeking nations.
Election as Mayor, 2000
Zuokas was one of the campaign managers for the Liberal Union of Lithuania in the 2000 Seimas elections. His party placed second, winning 36 seats. It formed an alliance with the New Union (Socialliberals) and Rolandas Paksas (the leader of the Liberal Union and Vilnius city municipality mayor, became the Prime Minister). There were two candidates from the Liberal Union for the vacant mayor's post: vice-mayor Algirdas Kudzys, and Zuokas. On 15 November 2000, the council voted 27–18 to make Zuokas, aged 32, the youngest mayor in the history of Vilnius.
Election as Mayor, 2011
Before the municipal election of 2011, famous English actor Jeremy Irons expressed his support for Arturas Zuokas and invited people to vote for him in a short video about his experience in Vilnius.
After a successful 2011 municipal election campaign in February, Zuokas once again became Mayor of Vilnius as his party won the most votes and gained 12 seats in the 51-seat Vilnius city council.
A number of projects championed by Zuokas have since been started or completed:
- The largest furniture retail complex in the Baltic states, IKEA, will be opened in Vilnius in 2013.
- In January 2012, the first trolleybuses assembled in the city, Vilnius, were introduced to its transportation system.
- In December 2011, Vilnius city municipality unveiled a new internet portal, vilnius.lt, complete with a set of e-democracy tools.
- In summer 2011, Vilnius first launched the first public electric bike “Rent and Share” system in Europe, named the 'E-orange'.
- In 2011, Vilnius city introduced four eco buses with routes in Vilnius' Old Town.
- Artūras Zuokas came up with the idea of buying a Greek island. The Mayor suggested that businesses and corporations could raise the money to register an island as belonging to the Lithuanian government. The island would host a tourism bureau, spa, museums and theatre. It would serve both as a Mediterranean resort for Lithuanians and a great global advert for Lithuania.
- The Mindaugas Bridge over the Neris River was completed for the 750th anniversary of Mindaugas' coronation in 2003. It was part of an effort to reconstruct Žalgiris Stadium, Žalgiris swimming pool, and the Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports in Žirmūnai. The projects are in progress.
- The reconstruction of Gediminas Avenue was completed.
- An underground parking lot under the Municipality Square has been opened.
- A two-level crossing was built to ease traffic jams for Pilaitė residents.
- A new municipal building was opened on the right bank of the Neris River. Zuokas revitalized and supported Rolandas Paksas' idea to build a new commercial center in Šnipiškės. The municipal building has been joined by the new Europa Tower and shopping center. Construction was funded by selling old administrative buildings scattered around the city.
- Construction of the Constitution Avenue is complete.
- Užupis and Malūnai Streets in Užupis district were reconstructed and water supply pipes were replaced.
- Artūras Zuokas influenced the establishment of the Ministry of Fluxus in Vilnius, which later moved to Kaunas.
Awards and honors
Zuokas is the recipient of numerous international and national awards and honors. He was decorated by President Jacques Chirac of France in 2001 with the National Order of Merit, and by President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia for his contribution to the betterment of bi-lateral relations.
He was twice elected Vice-President of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. The Junior Chamber International recognized Zuokas for his administrative achievements by naming him one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Persons in the World" in 2002. The U.S. Baltic Foundation honored his achievements in 2003 and the Balzekas Museum in Chicago, Illinois named him "Man of the Year". Local awards have included "Friend of Architects". He is a three-time recipient of the popular Vilnius "Iron Wolf" award.
In August 2011 Zuokas raised attention to illegal parking in bike lanes by staging the destruction of an illegally-parked car by a BTR-60 armoured personnel carrier in a Vilnius bike lane running along Gediminas Avenue. The stunt was performed in cooperation with a bucket-list show aired on Swedish TV6, and the hosts Erik Ekstrand and Mackan Edlund sat in the back of the armored vehicle. Later that year he was awarded an Ig Nobel Peace Prize for "demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with a tank".
- "From my unfinished book. 'Artūras Zuokas'. Retrieved on 2011-08-02". Zuokas.lt. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- Vilnius.lt - Mayor
- Jeremy Irons would vote for Arturas Zuokas
- IKEA store soon to open in Vilnius, Lithuania
- Vilnius starts manufacturing trolleybuses
- Vilnius First in Europe to Launch Public Electric Bike “Rent and Share” Program
- Four new eco buses to go around the Vilnius Old Town
- ‘Mad mayor’: help Greece, buy an island
- Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, has made a teasing offer to Greece
- Lietuvos Respublikos Seimo Kanceliarija. "Artūras ZUOKAS". .lrs.lt. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "The dramatic scene was actually a set-up by the leader, to underline how keen he is to crush illegal parking.". Daily Mail (London). 3 August 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
- "Vilnius mayor crushes car parked in cycle lane". BBC News. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Beetle's beer bottle sex wins Ig Nobel Prize". BBC News. 30 September 2011.
- "Vilnius Mayor A.Zuokas Fights Illegally Parked Cars with Tank".
- Delfi.lt news archives (Lithuanian)
- Blog of Artūras Zuokas (Lithuanian)