Latvija in brief - 2004-06-10

  • 2004-06-10
Soldier Olafs Baumanis died in Iraq on June 7 during a de-mining exercise in the Middle East country. Two Poles and three Slovaks also died in the explosion. Baumanis was the first Latvian soldier to die in Iraq. The Baltic state has 116 soldiers serving in the Polish-controlled segment of Iraq.

The National Harmony Party voted at a party meeting to cease support for the ruling coalition citing little progress in the education reform. Critics, however, attribute the decision to the upcoming Europarliament elections. A final decision will be made at a June 19 party congress.

The Greens and Farmers have agreed to transfer donations by Armands Beikmanis to the Finance Ministry if reports that he defrauded the State Real Estate Agency of 171,000 lats (260,500 euros) are confirmed. Beikmanis, one of GFU's largest donors, gave 9,800 lats to the political party in August 2002.

Disgraced surgeon and former Health Minister Aris Auders (photo) on June 7 informed New Era party head Einars Repse, that he was leaving the party. Auders stepped down as minister after it became public that he demanded bribes in order to treat some patients.

The Riga Central District Court ruled that Janis Adamsons (photo) had acted inappropriately in his position in Parliament and fined him 10,400 lats. Adamsons created a major scandal in Latvia, in 2000 when he accused members of Parliament, the prime minister and others of engaging in a pedophilia ring. He cannot stand for Parliament since a court later ruled that his time spent as a border guard during the Soviet occupation was equivalent to working for the KGB. Adamsons promised to appeal the decision.

The People's Party has requested that the Interior Ministry expel Alexander Kazakov, assistant to Russian Duma deputy Dimitry Rogozin, for his participation in organizing protests against the planned education reform. Rogozin called the move a "witch hunt" and said that if Kazakov were expelled they would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Latvia will decommission its nuclear reactor outside Riga in Salaspils with the help of the U.S. Global Threat Reduction Initiative. The plant was shut down six years ago, but the fuel was never removed due to a lack of funding. The Latvian government will pay for the removal and transportation of the fuel to Russia, while the U.S.A. will pay for the transportation and recycling of the fuel once it reaches Russia.

Representatives of the Russian minorities from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway and Cyprus signed an agreement in Prague on June 4 for the eventual creation of a European Russian Party, set to be completed by May 1, 2005.