Latvija in brief - 2006-01-11

  • 2006-01-11
The Palestinian Authority wants to establish closer ties with the Baltic states and has considered opening its representation in Riga, the head of the authority's delegation to Helsinki told Estonia's online portal. "We hope to strengthen both ties between our governments and relations with friendly people in the Baltic states and learn from their successful democratic process," the representative said. He noted that the Baltic transition had served as a useful example for the Palestinian Authority, which is ready to step up cooperation in several fields, especially education. The Foreign Ministry said it had not yet been informed about the plan.

Security Police have refused to open a criminal investigation into a Russian-made documentary, "Baltic Nazism," contrary to ruling party concerns that the film was instigating national hatred. Having reviewed the application by the Greens and Farmers Union, Security Police concluded that the Russian documentary did not overstep "the boundary of instigating national hatred or intolerance."

Education and Science Minister Ina Druviete said that state financing should be found to provide free-of-charge lunch for all pupils in Latvia's primary schools. She believes that all elementary school children should receive free lunch. The minister said the situation at schools was unfair, as state-funded lunch is already provided for some children. Free lunch paid by local authorities is provided for children from low-income families.

After receiving a petition filed by Social Democratic Workers Party leader Juris Bojars, the Constitutional Court has opened one more case on a ban on former KGB staffers to run in parliamentary elections. The law bans individuals who have worked for security, intelligence or reconnaissance services of the former Soviet Union, Soviet Latvia or foreign countries, from running in parliamentary elections and taking seats in Parliament. Bojars said that these restrictions seemed "totally ungrounded" to him. "I have done quite a lot to restore an independent Republic [of Latvia]," he said, adding that restrictions on participation in parliamentary work were "absurd."

The highest number of road fatalities last year was reported in the country's central, northern and eastern regions. Accidents in Riga took the lives of 88 people in 2005, which is four people more than a year ago. In the northern county of Cesis, road accidents claimed 25 lives, which is 13 percent less than in 2004, and another 25 people died in car crashes in Rezekne, where the number of fatalities declined by two from the previous year. The total number of road fatalities last year reached 440, or 76 less than in 2004.

A 30 year-old man attempted to rob a Riga bank for the second time in three days. An official said the man walked into a branch of Latvia's Parex Bank on Jan. 7, handed the clerk a note in which he demanded 20,000 lats (28,457 euros) in cash and threatened to detonate an explosive device. Bank employees called security, who detained the robber and handed him over to the police. The same man had attempted a similar robbery two days earlier.