Latvija in brief - 2006-03-22

  • 2006-03-22
Security Police have identified the man who allegedly threatened Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks. The suspect has links to a radical organization and participated in the events of March 16 's the day commemorating the Latvian Legionnaires 's when several extremist groups rallied in downtown Riga without a permit. After questioning the man, police concluded that there was no immediate threat to the foreign minister. Security Police have opened a criminal case over the matter, although the suspect will not be taken into custody.

Janis Kazocins, chief of the Constitution Protection Bureau, the nation's national security agency, said the nation must deal with a "certain terrorist threat" during an interview with LNT. "We know that Al Qaeda has realized that Latvia exists, that they have learned that a NATO summit will be held here and that we have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Kazocins. To be safe, Latvia must accept the possibility of a "certain terrorist threat," he added. When asked how the bureau had arrived at this conclusion, Kazocins referred to Web sites of the terrorist organization but would not elaborate.

Riga's Olympic Sports Center has been selected to host the NATO summit this November, Defense Ministry State Secretary Edgars Rinkevics told Diena. He said the venue will also serve as the summit's press center, but other events will be held elsewhere. "We did a very serious analysis 's capacity, security, transportation access and the least possible interference with the city's daily routine," Rinkevics said, adding that the opinion of other NATO members had been weighed in as well. The state can rent the Olympic Sports Center, which belongs to the Latvian Olympic Committee, from June 1, 2006 to Feb. 1, 2007. An accurate cost figure for rental and reconstruction will be known in the near future, said Rinkevics. The sports center will have to be upgraded to meet NATO summit needs, and then changed back again once the conference is over, explained the newspaper.

The Refugees Affairs Appeals Council has rejected a request by seven Somali citizens to reverse the Citizenship and Migration Affairs Board's decision to refuse them asylum in Latvia. Justice Ministry spokeswoman Jana Saulite told the Baltic News Service that the council's decision was final and could not be further contested. The National Border Guard, which is working on identifying the immigrants, will decide the group's fate. The border guard is also arranging for the group to receive valid travel documents, so they can be deported from Latvia. Five Somali men and two women arrived at the Latvian Red Cross office in Riga on Aug. 5, 2005. They said they had fled war-ravaged Somalia five months ago, and accidentally ended up in Latvia by boat.