Latvija in brief - 2006-04-26

  • 2006-04-26
The government has established a maritime police force for ensuring water traffic safety. As many as 80 policemen will patrol Latvian waters during the summer season. The patrols will require an additional 1.2 million lats (1.7 million euros) from this year's state budget and 688,718 lats from next year's. There are currently 2,892 rowboats, 411 cutters, 3,996 motorboats, 651 water motorcycles registered in Latvia, while some 11,410 rowboats, 124 cutters, 4,173 motorboats and 369 water motorcycles have not been re-registered.

The parliamentarian commission probing the business deals of former Defense Minister Einars Repse is unsure whether law enforcement agencies will send U.S. authorities a request to help with the probe anytime soon. Janis Lagzdins, an MP heading the investigation panel, which the president has criticized for its lack of progress, told the Baltic News Service that the commission has heard chief prosecutor Modris Adlers, who represents the prosecutor supervising the criminal procedure against Repse. Lagzdins quoted Adlers as saying that one of the reasons for the delay is that the anti-corruption bureau has replaced the investigator probing Repse's case. Another problem is that law enforcement authorities want to receive Repse's annual income declaration first.

Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks, at a meeting of foreign and defense ministers of the Baltic and Adriatic regions and the United States, asserted Latvia's readiness to provide its experience and support to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia in the area of NATO integration. "In the future, cooperation in our region should be promoted not only within the governmental sector but also among non-governmental organizations, thus diversifying it," the minister said. Pabriks pointed out that, while Latvia supports further NATO enlargement, the alliance has to grow stronger not only in the military sense, but also economically and politically. Thus candidate states must continue reforms in preparation for alliance membership, he stressed.

Parliamentary Speaker Ingrida Udre left for St. Petersburg on April 26 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian State Duma. MP Andris Berzins and Udre's foreign relations advisor Liga Bergmane accompanied the speaker on her visit. Udre said there were no meetings with any high-ranking Russian officials scheduled during her visit, and that she only intended to take part in the celebrations honoring the Russian Parliament.

A Jurmala court rejected a libel claim by the head of ILGA Latvia, the Latvian branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, against nationalist lawmaker Leopolds Ozolins, who is a member of the Greens and Farmers' Union. Ozolins said he was pleased with the court's decision and expressed hope that "the public attitude to this unnatural phenomenon, which goes against God, nature and people, would change." ILGA's Latvia leader Imants Kozlovskis sued Ozolins for libel over the lawmaker's comments on last summer's gay pride parade. Kozlovskis said that Ozolins' statements that homosexuality was a disease were "offensive to homosexual people."