Latvija in brief - 2005-11-02

  • 2005-11-02
Riga Mayor Aivars Aksenoks has turned to the court system seeking 122,000 lats (175,000 euros) compensation from predecessor Gundars Bojars and head of the City Council's development department, Vilnis Strams, for cutting advertisement taxes from Clear Channel Latvia. Bojars and Strams lowered the duty on the company. The State Auditors Office also reportedly found violations in agreements that Bojars signed with the company. Clear Channel Latvia was given a discount for constructing a row of public toilets in the Old Town's Livu Square.

Head of the State Revenue Service, Dzintars Jakans, suspended two employees who were, in his opinion, trying to initiate a smear campaign against him from inside. Jakans let go of Janina Stolarova, director of the major taxpayers administration and Edgars Cers, head of the legal department's payment collection branch.

Two men were sentenced to 15 and 20 years in prison for their role in the murder of U.S. missionary Drew Rush, who was found dead in his apartment a year ago. Karlis Magone, who had been serving in the Latvian military, was given a 20-year sentence, and Ingus Smitkins, unemployed at the time, was given 15 years. Both will also have to pay restitution to Rush's family, which will partly cover funeral expenses. Magone and Smitkins first robbed Rush of cash and computers, and then the pair strangled and killed him. The 50-year-old Rush had been teaching English in the military and sharing his beliefs.

A group of illegal immigrants at the Olaine detention center began a hunger strike to draw attention to the glacial development of their legal cases. One of the five detainees has been held for more than a year. Administration members said they tried to clear up the detainees' legal status by contacting the Estonian, Russian and Ukrainian embassies.

A Russian media source reported that Russian Ambassador to Latvia Viktor Kaluzhny will be recalled due to his desire to improve relations with the Baltic states. The Independent Media Service, citing unnamed Russian politicians, said the former oil minister would be brought back to Russia to run a northern region of the country. Kaluzhny denied the rumors, telling the Leta news agency that was the first he had heard of his future move.

Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs' son, Anrijs, was summoned to the Prosecutor's Office on Oct. 30, but when he arrived, there was no prosecutor there. Aivars Lembergs therefore believes that blatant psychological pressure is being put on him and his family, Leta reported. According to Lembergs, the people behind it want him withdrawn from politics. Prosecutor Andis Mezsargs explained that the erroneous date was noted in the summons, and apologized to Lembergs for the mistake. According to the Ventspils mayor, the Prosecutor's Office is demonstrating blatant nihilism.