Latvija in brief - 2006-05-17

  • 2006-05-17
The Zemgale District Court put off hearing the attempted bribery case in Jurmala's municipal elections to July 17. The case was postponed since one of the defendants 's businessman Germans Miluss 's was abroad for health treatment. Representatives of two other defendants did not arrive at the court either. A closed session is planned since Jurmala city lawmaker Ilmars Ancans, who had been offered the bribe, enjoys procedural protection. Ancans, though, said that he would ask for an open session: "The procedure has to be open. And I hope that I will make it open. It is the first such case and there is no sense to hear it in a closed session as society must know what happens in this country." Prosecutor Velta Zaluksne, confident that all those accused are guilty, said the court proceeding might last for a month.

Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks sent a letter to Latvian universities asking them to consider enrolling students from Belarus who, due to their political views, are not allowed to attend university at home. Pabriks has sent letters to all higher institutions asking them to consider the possibility and reply with their specific terms for enrolling Belarusian students. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Latvian Education and Science Ministry.

Two paratroopers from the National Armed Forces died in Riga on May 15 after falling into the Daugava River. Five paratroopers were participating in training exercises at Spilve Airport on the left bank of the Daugava River when a sudden gust of wind blew them toward the river. One of the five paratroopers landed on the river's bank while four fell into the water. A rescue mission was launched immediately and two of the paratroopers that fell in the water were saved. The other two perished. The National Armed Forces confirmed that both victims were soldiers.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's decision to become a leader of the North-European Gas Pipeline company earned him a nomination for the annual Murphy Award in Latvia, given to the person committing the biggest political flop of the year, said Miervaldis Mozers, author of the idea of Murphy awards for failures and Cicero awards for achievements. This will be the eighth year in a row the awards are distributed in Latvia. Schroeder was harshly criticized for his decision to become the chairman of the gas pipeline company, a joint German-Russian venture that will build a pipeline connecting Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, which he helped set up while chancellor.

The European Parliament Baltic Intergoup on June 14 will present the EP a plaque commemorating the victims of crimes committed under the communist regime, said Janis Palkavnieks, the aide to Latvian MEP Aldis Kuskis. Lawmakers sent a letter to EP President Josep Borrell Fontelles with a request to receive the present from the Baltic lawmakers. The memorial plaque "Commemorating the victims of the Soviet totalitarian communist regime," devoted to the 65th anniversary of the 1941 mass deportations carried out in the Baltic states will be presented by Kuskis and his colleagues, Tunne Kelam from Estonia and Vytautas Landsbergis from Lithuania.