Latvija in brief - 2004-12-09

  • 2004-12-09
Three Latvians were attacked in Manchester on Dec. 3, the daily Diena reported. One of the three victims, a 38-year-old man, was hospitalized with stab wounds to the head. He remains in critical condition. A Latvian man and an Estonian woman were also stabbed during the assault, which could have involved up to 20 people, according to reports. The attack comes a month after three other Latvians were assaulted in Northern Ireland, an event that could have been ethnically motivated, police there said. Officials are considering that race could also be a factor in this attack. In response to the report, Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks said that xenophobia and intolerance in Europe is probably more common than believed, and he urged Latvians living abroad to register with state embassies and consulates, so that immediate help could be provided if needed.

New Era was the most popular party again, a survey by pollster SKDS said, as the party showed a 17.4 percent rating for the month of November. New Era was followed by For Fatherland and Freedom at 10 percent, and For Human Rights in a United Latvia with 9.4 percent. The Greens and Farmers Union and the People's Party had 8.9 percent and 8 percent respectively. Latvia's Way was rated at 5.3 percent.

Janis Straume, head of the right-wing For Fatherland and Freedom party, was involved in a dubious land-deal, the Ventspils-controlled newspaper Neatkariga Rita Avize reported last week. The paper wrote that Straume had sold his four-bedroom apartment in Riga's Old Town for 17,000 lats (25,000 euros), though property values there are much higher, allegedly to avoid a large tax bill. Straume reportedly had acquired the apartment through privatization vouchers in the late 1990s.

Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis has proposed setting up an agency to analyze the sources of foreign direct investment in the Baltic state. Kalvitis said that investment coming from Russia through the use of offshore businesses and other fronts could not be ruled out. The prime minister added that there was a danger of Russian businesses simply buying up the country. The agency could be a part of the Constitution Protection Bureau, the state's secret service, or possibly even independent he said.

Schoolchildren's competence in mathematics, reading and natural sciences is below average, a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on students from 41 countries revealed. In mathematics, Latvian students took 28th place, putting them on the same level as their peers in the United States and slightly behind those in Spain, Hungary, Poland, Luxembourg and Norway. Latvian students took 23rd place in reading and 25th place in natural sciences. When tested for their ability to solve problematic life situations, Latvian students took 27th place, showing below average results.