Latvija in brief - 2006-01-18

  • 2006-01-18
Latvia's First Party's parliamentary faction head Janis Smits condemned the work of the Soros Foundation in the pages of the Latvian daily Neatkariga Rita Avize. "I see attempts by those people to influence processes in Latvia," he wrote. "There is no doubt that Soros' people propagate not only secular humanism, but also an open devaluation of values." The newspaper is widely believed to be connected to Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs, a critic of billionaire George Soros. Stories denouncing the alleged power the NGO wields in Latvia have been published in the pages of Neatkariga. Transport Minister Ainars Slesers, an important leader of the religiously orientated First Party, previously claimed that Soros wanted to "control the power" in Latvia.

A criminal case against former parliamentarian Janis Adamsons for slander was put off indefinitely by the Riga Regional Court. Adamsons was appealing an earlier ruling against him, which fined him 10,400 lats for spreading false information. Adamsons created an uproar in the country in 2000 when he accused former Prime Minister Andris Skele, Justice Minister Valdis Birkavs, and head of the Revenue Service Andrejs Sonciks of participating in a pedophilia ring. Adamsons was later stripped of his right to stand in Parliament after it was decided that his work in the border guards was tantamount to working for the KGB, which made him ineligible for government office.

This year's NATO summit will take place on Nov. 28-29, Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis announced. Since the summit, which will bring leaders from the 26-nation bloc to Riga, falls on a Tuesday and Wednesday, locals may get the days off, the PM said. The NATO summit is expected to focus on the security alliance's transformation from its history as a bulwark against communism to a global security player.

A criminal case was opened against two females after they hit two students from Sri Lanka, and told them to "leave Latvia." The two students are reportedly a brother and sister. A number of physicaly assaults took place last year when people with darker skin were attacked in Riga's old city. Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks condemned the latest incident and has called for greater tolerance in society.

Raimonds Pauls, one of the most well-known Latvian musicians celebrated his 70th birthday Jan. 12. The former presidential candidate is also popular in Russia and has collaborated with a number of Russian musicians. Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent Pauls birthday greetings, reportedly writing, "You are known and loved in Russia as a talented composer and author of marvelous music."

A four-year-old girl was taken to intensive care after reportedly being beaten with an electric kettle by her grandmother in the eastern city of Rezekne. The young girl suffered a damaged skull, contusions and lacerations from the beating. Hospital workers were shocked when her inebriated mother brought in the girl. Local police and children's authorities have been notified.