Latvija in brief - 2004-06-03

  • 2004-06-03
Special Task Minister for Integration Nils Muiznieks survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament with support from the ruling coalition and leftwing MPs. New Era and For Fatherland and Freedom put forward the motion, claiming that Muiznieks was responsible for growing anger and increasing protests against the education reform.

Prime Minister Indulis Emsis publicly supported a move by coalition ally People's Party to prohibit people holding duel citizenship from holding high public office. Emsis said that positions such as that of prime minister, president and head of the Constitution Protection Bureau should be held only by Latvian citizens. Some top ranking officials, such as Integration Minister Muiznieks and New Era parliamentary faction leaders Krisjanis Karins, hold dual citizenship.

The leader of New Era, Einars Repse, has publicly declared that Latvia needs a new constitutional amendment allowing voters to dissolve Parliament if they are dissatisfied with the work of government. The former prime minister will reportedly seek 10,000 signatures for a referendum on the proposed amendment in the near future. Prime Minister Indulis Emsis, for his part, excoriated the proposal, saying it was tantamount to a no-confidence vote in the presidency, since currently only the president can call for new elections.

According to a recent popularity poll conducted by the Latvijas Fakti polling agency, Deputy Prime Minister Ainars Slesers was ranked the most unpopular minister in the Cabinet. Slesers received a negative 31.7 rating. The most popular minister was Culture Minister Helena Demakova, with a positive 18.9 percent approval rating.

Ambassador to Russia Normans Penke (photo) said in an interview with the Latvijas Avize daily that cooperation between Riga and Moscow had brought no tangible benefit nor was likely to in the near future. Penke cited the near failure of the intergovernmental working group as well as growing criticism from both the Russian media and the state Parliament.

The prosecutor's office brought charges against the former director of the State Revenue Service, Andrejs Sonciks (photo), for failing to collect 1 million lats (1.5 million euros) in taxes from Dinaz Nafta and instead signed a settlement agreement with the joint stock insurance company Baltikums. The signing of the settlement, which removed the tax burden, led to Sonciks' termination. He currently works for the Finance Ministry.

Latvia may offer to help the new government of Iraq deal with its totalitarian past using its experience of transition from the Soviet Union. The Latvian government has offered aid in preserving historical artifacts, cultural heritage and archeology.