Latvija in brief - 2005-03-16

  • 2005-03-16
Security police believe the decision by Riga city executive Maris Tralmaks to allow Klubs 415, a radical youth organization, to organize a March 16 procession in commemoration of the Latvian legionnaires, soldiers recruited by Nazis to serve with Waffen SS units during WWII, has not been carefully assessed. However, Regional Authorities Minister Maris Kucinskis said the law did not allow him to annul Tralmaks' decision and that he is relying on promises from the Interior Ministry to ensure public order during the march.

U.S. President George W. Bush could visit either Latvia or Estonia directly following the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, according to anonymous diplomatic sources quoted in the daily Diena. Neither the U.S. Embassy in Riga, nor Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga's spokesperson could confirm the news.

Supporters of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's ultra-nationalist party protested outside the Latvian Embassy in Moscow over discrimination against the Russian-speaking minority in Latvia. The protesters reportedly carried signs that said: "We will turn off the tap to the fascist Baltics," and "Baltics, do not forget your liberators."

The ruling government coalition parties agreed to discuss a declaration denouncing the communist occupation of Latvia, Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis told the press March 14. The draft declaration would also denounce individuals who were complicit in crimes committed during the Soviet era. The document states that the government should set up a special commission that would be given one year to determine the official number of victims under Soviet rule, and damages owed to the state.

Only 15.2 percent of the working population received more than 300 lats (427 euros) in net monthly wages last year, according to new figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. One-seventh (14 percent) earned less than 73 lats a month, while one quarter (22.7 percent) were paid between 73 lats and 100 lats. One-fifth (21.1 percent) earned 100 - 150 lats per month, and one-sixth (16.3 percent) made 150 lats to 200 lats. One-ninth (10.7 percent) earned between 200 lats and 300 lats. The figures were taken from a survey covering about 5,000 randomly selected individuals aged 15-74.

Security Police detained a man March 12 in the town of Krimulda for selling 65 plates of reactive tank armor containing 18.2 kilograms of explosives. A search of the suspect's home also revealed an unlicensed hunting rifle and ammunition. The man was later charged with selling explosives, an offense that can earn up to four years in jail or a fine equal to 80 minimum wages (currently equivalent to 6,400 lats).

Police officers shot dead a Rottweiler after it attacked a six-year-old boy and a middle-aged woman in Riga on March 13. Both victims were hospitalized with bite wounds. Officers shot the dog on the scene after it was roaming the streets unleashed and without a muzzle.