Latvija in brief - 2004-08-26

  • 2004-08-26
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks has offered former Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete the position of ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Kalniete, who was supposed to be European Commissioner, was replaced in a last minute decision. She has expressed interest in returning to the Foreign Ministry but is reportedly undecided whether to take the position.

Six members of the anti-school reform organization, Shtab, began a hunger strike on Aug. 23 to protest the coming reform set for the beginning of September. The organizers of the protest claim they will carry on until the education reform is abandoned.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga was placed in Forbes' list of the top 100 most influential women in the world. Placed 70th, she was the only woman in Eastern Europe on the list. The list was headed by Condoleezza Rice, U.S. President George W. Bush's national security adviser.

The Russian government has donated 110,000 books to Latvian schools. Among the books given were textbooks, dictionaries and literary novels. The books will be allocated to the Ministry of Education, minority schools, and will also be used by Latvian schools for students learning Russian. A gift of 4,000 books was given by the Russian Embassy in the spring.

The political party New Era received the largest number of donations this year - over 120,000 lats (183,300 euros) - according to the anti-corruption bureau. The Social Democratic Workers Party came in second with 107,000 lats, and third was the Greens and Farmers Union, with nearly 40,000 lats.

The Russian government has reportedly denied political asylum to Vladimir Linderman (photo), leader of the local National Bolshevik organization. He may be extradited to Latvia, where officials want to indict him for allegedly plotting to kill the president.

The naturalization department announced when it had received 6,224 applications for naturalization in the first six months of this year. Head of the department Eizenija Aldermane hopes the figure will increase to 17,000 - 18,000 by the end of the year.

The Cabinet of Ministers has approved Parliament's draft law permitting the army to continue serving in the Polish controlled sector of Iraq until June 2005.

The government decided on Aug. 24 to place the smaller of the two hockey stadiums for the 2006 World Ice Hockey Championship in Riga, converting the Skonto stadium for the smaller arena. The State Property Privatization Fund will allocate 1.2 million lats, and another 2.5 million lats will be transferred by the state to the city of Riga for the project the news agency LETA reported. The city of Liepaja had been competing for the project, but lack of hotel space counted against it.