During a Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee meeting on Dec. 2, Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis (Greens/Farmers) said that the ministry is planning on increasing the number of Home Guards by several thousand in the coming years.
‘’We plan on continuing to develop the Home Guards in the upcoming years, which includes a substantial increase in the number of servicemen. At the moment, the number of Home Guards in Latvia is at around 8,000, but we intend to increase the number of servicemen by several thousand,’’ Vejonis said.
In accordance with the national defense plan, the number of Home Guards will be increased to 12,000 or even 13,000, the minister said.
Meanwhile, National Armed Forces Commander Raimonds Graube told LETA that Latvia currently has around 5,000 professional soldiers serving in its armed forces, and that it is planned to increase the number of soldiers by several hundred.
It was a gamble that never paid off: on Sunday Nov. 24 a Latvian citizen was busted attempting to smuggle a whopping 24 tons of cheese across the Ukrainian border and into Russia.
Driving a Mercedes truck registered in Latvia, with documents claiming the Latvian driver was carrying chipboards valued at more than USD 2,000. The border guards had suspicions about the contents of the cargo and its documentation, and decided to check the truck.
Perhaps this is a crime, but it is also a testament to the Latvian entrepreneurial spirit, since Russia’s sanctions on EU exports have left Russian cheese lovers in short supply of European cheeses; and the Latvian smuggler, whose name has not been clarified, must have realised that Russians would be turning gleefully to the black market for their supplies of “Siberian Mozzerella”, or “St Petersberg Parmesan”.
Kandava Region County Deputy Inga Priede of the Unity Party, Latvia’s largest party in the country’s ruling coalition, was made to step down after posting hateful and hurtful comments on Twitter, saying that it was good news that the Nazis shot gays. “Thank God! The Germans shot them in their time. Was good for demographics,” Priede wrote on Twitter, leading to a deluge of criticism both online and from within her party. Despite subsequently deleting her Tweets the damage has been done and Priede has resigned from her position in the Unity Party.
Her comments came after Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics announced he was gay on Twitter last month. Rinkevics’ revelation was followed up by a similar announcement by the UK’s charge d’affaires in Riga, Iain Frew, and while both these announcements were relatively well received in general by the Latvian public, these remarks show there are still highly worrying instances of homophobia in Latvian society, even among its political decision makers.