Latvija in brief - 2005-05-25

  • 2005-05-25
The Riga District Court fined several members of the radical National Bolsheviks on May 24 for causing public disorder during U.S. President George W. Bush's recent visit to Riga. The National Bolsheviks attempted to cross the security cordon in order to "speak with Bush" and President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and tell the former he was an unwelcome guest. Police detained 16 members of the National Bolsheviks. Fines of 100 lats (142 euros) were levied against Pjotrs Litvinskis and Anastasija Sirica, 90 lats against Dmitrijs Bogdanovs, 70 lats against Valentins Milutins and 50 lats against Valentins Leonovs and Jevgenijs Mihailovs.

After surveying the damage that recent floods inflicted in the eastern region of Latgale, Parliament Chairwoman and member of the Greens and Farmers Union Ingrida Udre has proposed allocating 1 million lats to alleviate farmers' losses. In the Daugavpils district 15,000 hectares were flooded, while 18 kilometers of roads and bridges were damaged by rising water. Officials said they would turn to the state and to the European Union for compensation.

In a rare press release, the Jewish Community excoriated recent attempts to rehabilitate Herberts Cukurs, a famous pilot-turned-war criminal, and criticized head of the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Aleksandrs Kirsteins. The letter says that Kirsteins is providing cover for the ultra-right and nationalist elements in society, a charge that he denies. The Jewish community also decried a rise in anti-Semitism, citing a recent attack on Rabbi Glazman in the Old Town and the increased presence of extremist youth. It also said that over the last 15 years, there have been good relations between the Jewish community and the state. Kirsteins criticized the letter: "The statement written in Russian and translated in poor Latvian contains outright lies and has been timed to coincide with attacks of the Russian Federation authorities on Latvia."

Security police forwarded an ethnic hatred case to the prosecutor's office, calling for legal action against two female journalists for the radical newspaper DDD. Liga Muzikante and Ilze Liepa authored articles with titles such as "New Task of Constitution Protection Office: Assess Activities of Jews against Latvians and others" and have written about the death of Herberts Cukurs. Aivars Garda, editor of the paper, is best known for holding essay competitions on how best to decolonize the country, as well as for homophobic competitions.

UN Development Program head Inita Pavlovica, speaking at a Parliament sub-committee meeting on May 23, said that Latvia had the second greatest social stratification in the EU after Portugal, and the income gap was expanding with time. Growth stalls over the nation's low birth rate, which has started increasing recently, as well as a large number of deaths among children and adult males in road and household accidents. The latter factor can easily push women into poverty, as their husband's income is lost. Pavlovica said that a surplus of specialists in certain industries has aggravated unemployment among young people. Nevertheless, several of the goals under the 2000 UN Millennium project were accomplished by the time the document was adopted, Pavlovica said.