Latvija in brief - 2004-12-01

  • 2004-12-01
Alexander Kazakov, the recently expelled anti-education reform activist, has turned to a Riga administrative court to overturn his expulsion and seek damages of 76,600 lats (112,000 euros). The order, issued by the citizenship and migration affairs department, was carried out on Sept. 4 and caused diplomatic controversy with Russia. Kazakov said he would turn to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if he were unable to get legal redress in Latvia.

Former communist-turned-independence leader Eduards Berklavs died on Nov. 26 at age 90. Berklavs was a Communist Party functionary who began opposing the Soviet Union's Russification policies in Latvia during the 1950s. A signatory of the historical 17 Latvian communists' letter that contested the Soviet Union, Berklavs was later exiled for his dissent. Later he became an activist for independence.

U.S. officials have allegedly warned Latvian soldiers serving in Iraq of possible health hazards from uranium-enriched military munitions, the daily Diena reported. Having hoped to take a peak at Iraqi ordinance, the soldiers were unofficially warned that many had been damaged by uranium shells, which could jeopardize the soldiers' health. Officially, however, the United States has denied that the uranium shells could harm soldiers and the area's surrounding inhabitants.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that it will provide cofinancing to construct a nuclear-medicine facility in Salaspils, home to a nuclear reactor set for closure. In addition to production, the facility will conduct cancer research. The IAEA will add $1 million of the $11 million needed for construction, which is expected to be complete in four years.

The Latvian Investment and Development Agency reported that, thanks to its efforts, the state has received nearly 80 million euros in foreign direct investment this year. Officials said that the country's small size, plus business costs make bringing in significant outside resources difficult at times. In order to keep investment flowing, director Andis Ozols suggested the state cut taxes by 40 percent on investments over 10 million lats (14.49 million euros).

Twenty-six people were injured in a bus accident in the western city of Kuldiga when a truck trailer unhitched and slid into an oncoming bus. The truck driver was reportedly driving above the speed limit. A criminal case has been opened.