Latvija in brief - 2005-03-09

  • 2005-03-09
A 26-year-old Sri Lanken student studying at the University of Latvia reportedly faked his own kidnapping because he was bored and lonely. The student, identified only as Edermuni, disappeared from his college dorm and replied to text messages from peers asking where he was with demands of 80,000 lats (115,000 euros) for his return. The ransom was then sent to the police who opened an investigation. Edermuni was found at an apartment in Riga that he had rented. According to news reports, Edermuni told police that he faked the kidnapping to gain more attention from his peers. Police will likely file a claim in court to recoup the costs of the investigation from the Sri Lanken.

General Prosecutor Janis Maizitis was elected for another five-year term in office by a large majority of Parliament, gaining 74 votes from the 100-seat body. The re-election had been moved up several months after a campaign in a local paper against him sparked widespread support. Broad based support and pressure from the intelligentsia helped move the date of the vote forward and ensured Maizitis' return to the post.

The Adazu Cipsi factory caught fire late on March 2, burning for nearly 30 hours before firefighters could extinguish the flames. Production of chips has been momentarily halted. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Imants Freibergs (photo), the husband of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, was the victim of a computer hack and the theft of bank account numbers and passwords according to reports on LNT news. The computer hackers reportedly made off with thousands of lats belonging to Freibergs. Five people have been detained by police in connection with the theft, including Armands Beikmanis, a businessman currently in trouble for other cases of fraud.

The nationalist youth organization Klubs 415 was granted permission to march from the Freedom Monument on March 16 in remembrance of the Latvian Legion, two units comprising more than 100,000 soldiers that fought under the Waffen SS against the Soviet Red Army in World War II. The march, which includes surviving legion members, has repeatedly drawn criticism from Russia and some Western European countries.

The Russian Foreign Ministry requested an official explanation as to why billionaire exile Boris Berezovsky was not held by authorities when he arrived in Latvia by private plane for a one-day visit last week. Berezovsky is on Interpol's most wanted list for the alleged massive theft of state assets in Russia. He has been granted the status of refugee in the U.K., and arrived bearing a travel document that listed his name as Yelenin Platon.