Latvija in brief - 2005-10-05

  • 2005-10-05
A Riga regional court ruled in favor of businessman Arnolds Laksa against the newspaper Neatkariga Rita Avize, and its owners Preses Nams, and Mediju Nams for a combined judgment of 50,000 lats (71,400 euros). Laksa had asked for 100,000 lats for 29 articles that appeared in the paper between 2002 and 2003, accusing him of financial impropriety and criminal activity. Neatkariga called the judgment "strange" and said the company would appeal. Other media speculated that the newspaper turned against Laksa after he handed over material to the state's General Prosecutor showing that Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs was the true owner of a number of Ventspils enterprises. Lembergs is widely believed to have control over Mediju Nams.

Right-wing parties came in as the most popular last month according to polling data from Latvijas Fakti. New Era came in with 10.3 percent of the vote, the People's Party found support from nine percent of the electorate, and For Fatherland and Freedom showed slightly higher than seven percent support. For Fatherland has been flirting with more extremist elements in society, including Visu Latvijai (all for Latvia) and may form a common ticket in next year's parliamentary elections.

Public support for membership in the European Union dropped significantly according to polling data by Latvijas Fakti. If a vote were held today only 40 percent of the population would support membership. Large distrust of the European project remains among the country's substantial noncitizen segment of the population, with over 60 percent against. Noncitizens did not have the right to vote in the EU referendum and cannot vote in national or municipal elections. Pessimism for the EU was also high among lower income residents, who have been hurt by rising prices due to a sharp inflationary increase, raising prices across the board.

The Baltic Assembly's presidium met with the budget and audit committee in Riga on Sept. 30, where it decided to accept an equal 2006 budget for all three countries. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will allocate 300, 000 euros (100,000 euros from each member state) for next year's expenditure. The meeting was held in response to Estonian Parliamentary Speaker Ene Ergma's proposal to cut annual financing from 100,000 euros to 65,000 euros.

A 32-year-old mother who poisoned her two-year-old son was sentenced to 10 years in prison a Kurzeme regional court on Oct. 4. The woman, identified only as Sarmite, admitted that she had used medicine and alcohol to end the life of her son. Afterward she also tried to take her own life but failed, and later turned herself in to law enforcement. The mother became distraught after a relationship with her male partner ended. In addition to the jail time, she will reportedly have to attend psychiatric counseling.