Latvija in brief - 2005-09-28

  • 2005-09-28
Two people escaped from the Olaine illegal detention facility, climbing out of the shower room after breaking the security bars. The two escapees were reportedly Russian and Lithuanian, and have not yet been found by law enforcement.

Due to a high proficiency in Russian, inhabitants of Latvia scored among Europe's top for bilingualism, according to a Eurobarometer survey. Luxembourg came in first with 99 percent of its population speaking a foreign language, with Latvia and Malta following second and third. Ninety-three percent of Latvia's inhabitants speak a foreign language, putting it ahead of neighboring Baltic states. Lithuania came in second with 90 percent of its population proficient in another language, and then Estonia with 87 percent.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga praised her counterpart Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin's aspirations to join the EU, and hoped that lingering border disputes with neighboring Russia could also be solved. Speaking of European Union membership Vike-Freiberga said "I see no reason why this could be denied to Moldova. I wish the Moldovan people the spiritual strength to survive, anticipating the day when the Moldovan flag flies all over the country."

Fish and crayfish have been seen suffocating in the Lielupe River near the city of Jelgava, prompting an investigation by local state authorities. According to news agency Leta, the local sugar refinery, Jelgavas Cukurfabrika, has been blamed for the water's lack of oxygen. The refinery may face fines if the allegations are proven and could be shut down, warned Environment Minister Raimonds Vejonis. Water samples have been taken and sent off to laboratories for examination. The state's environmental agency has advised fishermen not to consume fish caught in the Lielupe river.

Roberts Jurkis, a member of New Era, is expected to take over the vacant mandate of Edgars Jaunups, who resigned earlier this month for receiving a speeding ticket. Jaunups was caught speeding in a Riga City Council car that belonged to his father, who is a member of the municipal government. "You have to answer for your actions and I take responsibility," Jaunups said at the time. The former MP was going more than 30 kilometers an hour over the speed limit.

Aizkraukles Banka promised a 1-million lat gift for a permanent collection at the future modern art museum, and for a scholarship fund to the Culture Ministry on Sept. 23. The gift will be paid out over 11 years. Culture Minister Helena Demokova hailed the donation as an example of "public-private partnership."

The captain of the Misisipi, a tour boat on the Daugava River, turned on his engine only to discover a dead body obstructing the movement of the ship's propeller. Police have opened an investigation. The tour boat picks up passengers near Riga's Old Town for a short tour up the Daugava River.