Latvija in brief - 2004-09-29

  • 2004-09-29
Zigmunds Stankevics, a former Kremlin official, who took part in the coup attempt of 1991, was appointed to head Riga's representation in Moscow. The daily Diena reported that after Latvia regained independence Stankevics worked for parties with links to Sergei Baburin, who helped organize the failed coup attempt against Boris Yeltsin in 1993. Stankevics later worked for Baburin while he was in the Duma (Russia's parliament) from 1995 to 1999. City Council officials said that Stankevics wide network of contacts in Moscow made him an ideal choice.

Parliament decided on Sept. 23 to pass a law allowing EU citizens living in Latvia to vote in municipal elections, in observance of EU law. Despite proposed amendments by left-wing parties, noncitizens still will not have the right to vote in such elections, prompting leading Juris Sokolovskis, an MP from the left-wing bloc For Human Rights in a United Latvia, to say, "This means that you 's the ruling parties 's love foreigners more that Latvia's residents."

Former Russian Ambassador to Latvia Igor Studennikov has congratulated Eurocommissioner nominee Ingrida Udre, saying she would do well at the legislative body. Studennikov also said his worst experience in Latvia was when disagreements arose between the Baltic state and its eastern neighbor. Studennikov's succesor, Viktor Kaluzhny, will replace him in October. Kaluzhny was previously Russia's fuel and energy minister.

A small crowd gathered outside the EU's representative office in Moscow to protest against Latvia's education reform. The protesters claimed to be a part of the nationalistic For Motherland political party. Among them was Alexander Kazakov, a leader of the anti-education reform organization Shtab, who was recently deported to Russia from Latvia.

Deputy head of the Dutch Embassy in Moscow Hero De Boer said in a session of the Duma that Latvia and Estonia fully comply with EU human rights criteria and called on Russian MPs to ratify the EU-Russia partnership agreement.

The Environment Ministry launched probes into a national park director and a regional environment administration director for granting permission to build on Cape Kolka, where the Gulf of Riga meets the Baltic Sea. A local businesswoman was allowed to invest in a municipal tourism company, giving her the right to property in the Kolka area. A tourism center was built within 300 meters of the protected sand dunes in Kolka by SIA Koklasrags, which now is owned by SIA Nakotnes Parks, whose proprietor is businesswoman Benita Saudaska. The land was reportedly acquired for 0.70 lat (1 euro) per square meter, while the normal price for land in that area is 2 lats per square meter, according to real estate agents.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga received an award from the president of the U.S. Cultural Heritage Commission, Warren Miller, for her contribution to the remembrance of the Holocaust and promotion of its research.