Latvija in brief - 2004-07-08

  • 2004-07-08
Shtab, the radical organization opposing the school reform, has promised the largest protest yet on Sept. 1, traditionally the first day of school. In addition to organizing large protests, Shtab also claims to have a number of parents ready to go on hunger strikes in the hope that the reform will be modified, if not abandoned. Shtab officials promised to continue fighting until the reform is defeated.

Around 200 people gathered to remember the victims of the Holocaust in Latvia at the site of the Gogol Street synagogue on July 4, the anniversary of its burning. "I urge everyone to not only remember the victims, but also to put more effort toward the fight against violence and prejudice," President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said at the ceremony.
Defense Minister Atis Slakteris (photo) said that if he were to write a book about Latvia's integration into NATO and the EU, it would contain "scandalous information." Slakteris declined to specify further about what his hypothetical book would reveal. He called the recent book by Ron Asmus "Opening NATO's Door: How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era," about the Baltic states' road to the security alliance "serious," and that the author is an "ideologue."

Aleksejs Loskutovs, head of the Bureau for Corruption Prevention and Control, took former acting head Juta Strike to task, accusing her of surpassing authority and illegally signing documents. Loskutovs had previously said he would like Strike and her deputy Alvis Vilks to leave the anticorruption bureau.

A recent decision by the ruling coalition has placed the Latvian Institute under the control of the Foreign Ministry, despite protests by Ojars Kalnins, the head of the organization, who said that the new government oversight would give foreign media and representatives the impression that the information it produces is "propaganda." He also said that the new status would reduce the inflow of donations, because foreign Latvians will not want to donate to the state's budget. The Latvian Institute received around 30,000 lats (46,000 euros) in donations last year.

The government announced that it would appeal the recent ruling in favor of left-wing firebrand Tatyana Zdanoka by the European Court of Human Rights. The government said it was a serious and political issue that needed to be reexamined by the court. Zdanoka promised another victory. The case will most likely be examined by a panel of five judges who will then decide whether to send it on to the 17-member grand chamber for an appeal. The Latvian government has until Sept. 17 to prepare the appeal.

A Soviet army graveyard was desecrated in the northern region of Aluksne, at the Ate Fraternal Cemetery. The vandalism marked the third attack against the Soviet cemetery. The local police department has opened an investigation.