Latvija in brief - 2004-11-01

  • 2004-11-01
The Greens and Farmers Union successfully defeated the anti-corruption bureau in court for a second time Sept. 27, over charges of illegal third party financing totaling almost 56,000 lats (83,000 euros). Diana Kurpniece, the head of the public relations department for the anti-corruption bureau, said they could not comment because the bureau had not yet received the full judgment from the court. The Greens and Farmers Union had transferred 47,915 lats of the total amount to the Finance Ministry pending the ruling. Greens and Framers Union head Augusts Brigmanis said his party would try to get the money back, although anticorruption bureau lawyer Maija Kalnina told the Baltic News Service news agency that the judgment didn't necessarily mean the money would be returned.

Ventspils' Mayor Aivars Lembergs reacted angrily to alleged misbehavior by NATO sailors from seven anti-mine ships that visited the coastal city Oct. 29-Oct. 31. "Discipline training in NATO forces is very poor," Lembergs told the Baltic News Service. Lembergs also claimed that NATO sailors may have been involved in the tipping over of one of the city's famous cow statues. The NATO ships were from Norway, the U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

An unnamed American missionary was found dead in his rented apartment on Tallinas St., Riga, on Nov. 1. He had been stabbed through the heart with a knife, although police believe he had been tortured and possibly strangled first. The knife was discovered at the scene of the crime. The man had been living in Riga for two years. The police have as yet been unable to provide a motive for the murder.

Ivars Godmanis, Latvia's first prime minister after independence in 1991, was named head of Latvia's Way at a party conference Oct. 30. Latvia's Way barely failed to pass the 5 percent threshold needed to stand in Parliament in the 2002 election. Party member Georgs Andrejevs managed to win a seat in the Europarliament election earlier this year, and currently sits with the Liberals.

A letter asking world leaders to carefully consider whether to attend celebrations in Moscow marking the end of WWII in Russia on May 9 next year was signed by three Baltic MEPs and one from the U.K. Most European countries celebrate the end of the war one day before Russia. The letter was written by Aldis Kuskis of Latvia, Tunne Kelam of Estonia, Vytautas Landsbergis of Lithuania, and Christopher J.P. Beazley of the U.K.

Soldiers who have completed their term on the international peacekeeping mission in Iraq, have finally returned home after a day-long delay from Kuwait due to technical problems with the airplane. The multinational coalition force airplane, with 130 Latvians soldiers abroad, left Kuwait on the morning of Nov. 2 and landed in Riga Airport at 6:45 p.m. On Oct. 30 a new rotation team of 98 peacekeepers left the country for Iraq. All in all, 120 Latvian troops will continue the peace mission in Iraq.