Latvija in brief - 2004-09-22

  • 2004-09-22
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks addressed a crowd at Columbia University in New York, laying out Latvia's future foreign policy goals, including the promotion of democracy in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Belarus. Pabriks was a Fulbright scholar at Columbia where he did post-doctoral work.

The new NGO OKROL, or the Russian Community in Latvia, has announced plans to open offices in both Moscow and Strasbourg. The office in Moscow will be headed by Alexander Kazakov, one of OKROL's three co-chairman who was recently deported to Russia for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred.

The OSCE's High Commissioner for Minorities Rolf Ekeus will make a visit to Latvia at the beginning of October. Ekeus' visit was hailed by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which claimed that it would be an investigative trip and that Latvia was forcibly Latvianizing its ethnic Russian population.

Riga police said they would investigate the appearance of a number of orange posters depicting sexual positions across the city on Sept. 23. The posters were taken down the same day. According to unconfirmed reports, the posters were pasted up in protest of exploiting sexuality in marketing and advertisements.

Polish authorities detained Alisaf Palahan Ogli Gardasov, who escaped in a mass prison break with 88 fellow inmates 10 years ago from the Parlielupe prison outside Jelgava. Gardasov had served less than a year of his 10-year sentence for murdering a 14-year-old boy. He is currently in a Polish illegal immigration camp and could be extradited to Latvia to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Only five of the original escapees still remain at large.

The Foreign Ministry has requested more information from Belarus over its plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Daugava River. The Environmental Protection Agency also would like to observe the project, as well as its technical information. Agency head Rolands Bebris claimed that Belarus' environmental laws are 15 years behind Latvia's.

Noncitizen schoolchildren will be able to travel visa free to other EU countries on school trips if accompanied by a teacher, a new ruling passed by Parliament stated on Sept. 21.

The National Sports Council has proposed awarding the state's four silver medalists 50,000 lats (76,000 euros) each. The athletes that won silver were gymnast Jevgenijs Sapronenko, weightlifter Viktors Scerbatihs, javelin thrower Vadims Vasilevskis and Jelena Rublevska for the pentathlon. Athletes failing to bring home a medal would also receive a monetary reward if they made top six at the games. Deniss Cerkovskis would be given 15,000 lats for fourth place in the pentathlon, while 10,000 lats would go to Stanislavs Olijars for fifth place in the 110-meter hurdles, and 5,000 lats would be granted to Dagnis Vinogradovs for sixth place in the 1,000-meter canoe race.