Latvija in brief - 2005-09-21

  • 2005-09-21
The conservative French language newspaper Le Figaro published an article claiming that President Vaira Vike-Freiberga could be a candidate to replace UN Head Kofi Anan when his term expires next year, the daily Diena reported, adding that Vike-Freiberga could be backed by the United States. Vike-Freiberga's press secretary, however, declined to comment on the rumors. At times, local media has speculated that Vike-Freiberga could replace Anan, but those rumors have rarely been heard outside the country.

In a continuing sign of dissatisfaction over low pay, more than 100 police officers left their jobs at the Interior Ministry last month, bringing the year's total loss to 600 officers, and another 300 other employees of the ministry. In the run up to the state's budget, police, as well as other underpaid civil servants, have at times taken to the streets to show their displeasure. An action to stem a further loss of personnel was reviewed on Sept. 20, but if substantial raises are not instituted, some in the police union have warned of even greater losses before the end of the year.

Delna, the local chapter of Transparency International, gained access to two closed prosecutorial decisions after the state's Supreme Court ruled to open up the records to the NGO. One of the cases goes back 11 years, and concerns a decision by the state prosecutor not to open a criminal case against Janis Jurkans, a politician from the National Harmony Party. Access to a 2001 decision by the prosecutor to close a case against Linards Mucins, head of the parliament's legal affairs committee, was also given. Delna initially brought the case to court in 2002.

Former Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans wrote an open letter to the local U.S. Embassy, after it denied his son a visa to travel to America. Kristopans, who owns a house in the United States and says he travels to the country regularly, said his son was not granted a visa due to concerns over his financial resources. These concerns were unjustified, Kristopans said, and proof could easily be provided to show otherwise.

Vike-Freiberga accepted an invitation from the World Holocaust Forum Foundation to become a patron for the organization. The foundation combats anti-Semitism and xenophobia around the world, and was created by the European Jewish Congress, and Yad Vashem.

The outgoing Chinese ambassador, Ji Yanchi, paid a farewell visit to Vike-Freiberga on Sept. 20. The president thanked Yanchi for his contribution to the development of Latvian-Chinese relations, in particular economic and culture ties. The ambassador praised Latvia's economic growth and said that Vike-Freiberga's official visit to China last year had seriously facilitated political and economic dialogue between the two countries.