Latvija in brief - 2006-01-25

  • 2006-01-25
The Supreme Court's senate rejected a request by Russian exile billionaire Boris Berezovsky to lift his blacklisting. The senate will begin a hearing on the Interior Ministry's decision to ban Berezovsky from traveling to Latvia. Berezovsky, who is wanted for alleged mass fraud in Russia, made two trips to Latvia last year, where he met speaker of Parliament Ingrida Udre and Eriks Jekabsons, who at the time was the country's Interior Minister. Jekabsons later resigned, and Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis signed an order effectively ending visitation rights for Berezovsky.

Riga authorities handed over an investigation into the racially motivated assault on two Sri Lankan nationals to the Security Police. The two Sri Lankan students were accosted by two females, who allegedly slapped one of them and told them to leave Latvia. A conviction of racial assault involving violence can carry a jail term of up to 10 years.

A commission of historians has termed the documentary film Baltic Nazism "anti-Latvian propaganda." The commission took issue with the interpretation of the events of 1940, when Soviet forces took control of the country. The film reportedly says that 80 percent of society was opposed to Karlis Ulmanis' rule. The film also purportedly claims that the deportations of 1941, where over 15,000 people were deported in one night from the country, was done to avoid a civil war. The state's security police have so far declined to pursue the matter after a request by the Greens and Farmers' Union, which has since appealed the decision. The historians examined the film after a request by Udre.

Dailis Luks, head of the country's prison administration system, was demoted to the Interior Ministry after fallout over the discovery of a prison he had authorized. It was revealed that female inmates were put to work for a local company. Justice Minister Solvita Aboltina had called for Luks' dismissal, but Kalvitis said the decision to move Luks to the Interior Ministry was a compromise, since he and Aboltina were not able to work together. Aboltina, however, condemned the decision, saying, "If the government ignores the law, it cannot demand that others should abide by it." She also claimed that the decision was evidence that the country was in the midst of a pre-election campaign.

A newborn baby has been kidnapped from a hospital in Riga Friday afternoon, the police said. Police spokesman Aigars Berzins said a four-day old baby boy was taken from the infants ward of the Gailezers Hospital at about 1.30 p.m. "A nurse had fed the newborn, and when she returned the child was not there," the spokesman said. Investigators suspect that the baby's underage mom might have taken the child. The mother was found later that day. Police are currently looking into the case.