Latvija in brief - 2004-11-17

  • 2004-11-17
The council governing the Three-Star Order, the country's most prestigious award, has decided to grant the order's highest level (first class) to Guenter Verheugen, former European Commissioner in charge of enlargement, and Romano Prodi, former commission president, for their contribution to state development. Third class awards will be given to Bruce Jackson, president of the U.S. committee on NATO, Julie Finley, a founder of the same committee, as well as Daniel Fried, special assistant to the U.S. president and director of Eurasian and European Affairs.

The People's Party faction in the Riga City Council has asked for a special meeting with Zigmunds Stankevics, the city of Riga's representative in Moscow, to question him about past work and plans to promote the Latvian capital in Russia. The daily Diena previously reported that Stankevics worked in the Kremlin during Mikhail Gorbachov's reign and had participated in attempts to save the Soviet Union from collapse. Supporters say Stankevics' many contacts in Moscow would be beneficial for Riga.

Parliament has adopted amendments to the law governing the anti-corruption bureau in its second reading thus providing it with autonomous status and removing it from the prime minister's authority.

The Interior Ministry's parliamentary secretary and MP Dainis Turlais announced at a Riga conference this week that state participation in the occupation of Iraq has raised the country's terrorist threat level. Turlais also claimed that Latvia should "expect possible counter reactions now" at the conference.

The Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by a regional court sentencing Nikolai Tess, 83, to a two-year suspended sentence for crimes against humanity and genocide. Tess was convicted for signing the deportation orders of 42 families in 1949. Eleven of the 138 people deported under Tess' orders died in exile.

Three Latvians were beaten and one stabbed in what apparently was a race-driven attack in Northern Ireland. The victims, aged 20-25, were not seriously injured after being assaulted in Lord Lurgan Park on the night of Nov. 9, according to Uldis Mikuts, who represents the Latvian consulate to the U.K. Police said this was the 38th attack in the Craigavon area since April. There has been an increase in the number of Portuguese and Baltic immigrants in Ireland, the BBC reported.