Latvija in brief - 2005-11-16

  • 2005-11-16
Economy Minister Krisjanis Karins called for an investigation into a power outage in the Tornkalns neighborhood Nov. 11 that affected a children's hospital and residential area. Generators were employed to keep the intensive care unit running at the hospital and ambulances were redirected to other area hospitals.

Aivis Ronis, the ambassador to NATO, resigned earlier this month due to personal reasons. Ronis said his decision had nothing to do with politics, adding that he would like to return to work in the Foreign Ministry in two years. Before serving as ambassador to NATO, Ronis was Latvia's representative in Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

Janis Jurkans, the founder of the National Harmony Party, has said he would not run for Parliament in next year's election and would likely end his 17-year political career. Jurkans, a former foreign minister, recently ceded control of his party after it decided to merge with New Center, a new political creation appealing to the same center-left electorate. The combination is now known as Harmony Center and is run by Sergejs Dolgopolovs a rival of Jurkans.

Traffic police chief Edmunds Zivtins hailed stiff new traffic laws, claiming that they have already influenced the number of drunk drivers on Latvian roads. Zivtins cited over 1,000 arrests for drunk driving from Oct. 14 to Nov. 14 last year. During that same period this year, roughly half the number of arrests were made. The number of accidents caused by drunk drivers is also down this year. The new traffic laws mete out stiff penalties, fines, and even jail time for drunk driving.

A new competition will be held for the director of Latvian Radio, the National Broadcasting Council announced after a recent vote ended inconclusively in a tie. The vote was split four-to-four with one abstaining to make Uldis Duka, director of Latvia's Radio 2, the new director general of the Radio station. Before the vote, 23 senior personnel of Latvian Radio wrote a letter to the Broadcasting Council against Duka's candidacy, citing ethical concerns.

State Secretary for the Interior Ministry Juris Reksna resigned from the ministry for reasons related to "a heavy workload." Former Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons earlier suspended Reksna for his role in the privitization of three pieces of land belonging to the ministry. However, when Jekabsons himself stepped down and was replaced by Dzintars Jaundzeikars he was inexplicably reinstated immediately by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis. Jekabsons left the ministry in the wake of heavy criticism from President Vaira Vike-Freiberga over poor progress in meeting the Schengen criteria and a bizarre and unclear role in the banning of Boris Berezovsky. Reksna has worked in the ministry for nearly 30 years.