Latvija in brief - 2005-02-23

  • 2005-02-23
Culture Minister Helena Demakova has asked her Baltic counterparts to petition the EU to provide funding for a commemoration of the victims of Soviet communism. The European Commission's program, Culture 2007, provides funding for the commemoration of Nazi victims, something Demakova fully supports. "The crimes of the Holocaust are among the most horrible of humankind; therefore, I fully support allocation of EU financing for honoring the victims," she said. Demakova said she would also like to see resources provided for victims of the Soviet Union.

In a letter to President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted the paradoxical significance of the end of the WW II for the Latvian people, the president's press office reported. "I know that for Latvia and other Central and Eastern European states, the anniversary of the end of WWII comes with duel feelings, because while it marked a defeat of Nazism, it also symbolized the start of Soviet occupation," Blair wrote. He said the president's decision to go to Moscow for the Victory Day celebrations on May 9 had not been easy, but clearly showed that, just one year after Latvia took a full-fledged place in Europe and 14 years after the restoration of independence, it was capable of striving for reconciliation and constructive relations with Russia.

The Security Police have opened investigation into the far-right newspaper DDD over allegations that stories violated laws prohibiting the incitement of racial and ethnic hatred. Alexandrs Brandavs, former parliamentary secretary to the Special Task Minister for Integration, asked the General Prosecutor's Office to examine the publication. The case was then forwarded to the Security Police. DDD 's Deoccupation, Decolonization and Debolshivization 's is an organ of Latvia's National Front, a radical organization under the leadership of publisher Aivars Garda, who is notorious for holding essay competitions against Russians and homosexuals.

Police detained Andris Bite, former head of the now bankrupt cannery Kaija and co-owner of Karavela Ltd., on suspicion of smuggling fish. A 150-ton shipment of frozen fish arrived from Mauritania in Klaipeda Port last year bound for Russia by way of Riga, but the fish, worth approximately 80,000 lats (115,000 euros), never left the country. Police said this was arranged to avoid a tax bill of around 30,000 lats.

The Health Ministry issued another warning against the use of the Belarusian-produced Ascophen P painkiller, after another woman was hospitalized with symptoms similar to those of an earlier group. Last year 30 people who had used the drug were hospitalized with hypoglycemia. The pill came from a faulty batch that contained an additive for diabetics. "To prevent repetition of similar incidents and danger to people's health, the Health Ministry urges people not to take any Ascophen P or Citramon P drugs made by Belmedpreprati if they still have any such pills at home," a ministry spokesperson said. The offending drug company paid the state 10,600 lats in damages.