Latvija in brief - 2006-02-22

  • 2006-02-22
Author and World War II veteran Visvaldis Lacis is working on a book about the Latvian legionnaires who fought on the side of Nazi German. Lacis said his book, "The Latvian Legion in the Light of Truth" is almost finished, and that it's more like a philosophical essay "because I was a legionnaire myself and experienced it all. The book will not be a description of particular battles." Lacis said his writing shows "that the legionnaires were actually freedom-fighters, although maybe naive ones. My aim is to prove that we fought for the freedom of Latvia." The author drew on reputable sources available in English and German, alongside various press materials. In an interview with the Baltic News Service, he expressed regret over the government's negative attitude toward the legionnaires. Lacis described the stance of Latvian politicians as "miserable and mentally submissive."

A young woman's testimony has helped bust a human trafficking network stretching from Latvia and the Czech Republic to illegal brothels in Switzerland, the daily Diena reported. The 23-year-old single mother left for Switzerland in 2003, believing that she had work as a bartender. When she arrived, it turned out that the Schloss hotel, where she was supposed to begin working, was actually an underground brothel. On Feb. 13, a local Swiss court opened a case in which four men stand accused of human trafficking, pimping and the sexual abuse of minors. The charges are based on evidence provided by 50 people. Swiss law enforcers have carried out searches in 14 sites and have been wire-tapping the two suspects' phone conversations for two months. They also traveled to the Czech Republic and Latvia to collect evidence. The pictures obtained during the investigation are shocking, and case material makes up 30 volumes.

Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis said the government would grant 30,000 lats (42,700 euros) to Martins Rubenis as a prize for his Olympic bronze medal in the luge. By law, the prize for a bronze can be up to 30,000 lats, and the PM has pledged that Rubenis will receive the maximum. "The government is sure to meet its obligations and keep its promises. There are no doubts about it," said Kalvitis, adding that the government does all it can to support sports in Latvia. The cash prize for an Olympic gold in individual disciplines is up to 100,000 lats, and a silver deems up to 50,000 lats. Rubenis won Latvia's first Winter Olympic medal in the men's singles.

Four Latvians and one Lithuanian were killed in a two-vehicle traffic accident on Feb.18 in northwest Ireland. Ivars Lasis, first secretary in the Latvian Embassy to Ireland, told Radio Telefis Eireann that Latvian police had notified next of kin of the deaths. The victims include a 38-year-old woman, her 20-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old man, all from Liepaja. Also killed was a woman in her late twenties from Valka. The fifth fatality was a 35-year-old man from Lithuania, who was driving with a fellow countryman who was injured. The Latvians were travelling in a Volkswagen Vento when it collided with an Audi, occupied by the two Lithuanians, at about 4:20 a.m., according to the Sunday Independent. The Balts were all resident workers in Ireland.