Latvija in brief - 2007-02-07

  • 2007-02-07
The Latvian Kurzeme District Court began hearing the case of five men accused of hacking the computer of Imants Freibergs, husband of the Latvian president, and cheating him out of about 3,000 lats (4,268 euros). In March 2005 the hackers gained access to the computer owned by Freibergs and stole bank account data and passwords. Using the data stolen from Freibergs' computer, the hackers later cheated him out of the money. The police detained five suspects in connection with the case, including businessman Armands Beikmanis, who was one of the biggest donors to the Greens and Farmers Union in 2002.

Latvian universities and colleges plan to gradually introduce a mandatory environment protection course, reported the Environmental Science and Education Council. The council's chairwoman, Dagnija Blumberga, said that the environment protection course has to be introduced because of the rapid changes in climate. "Initially rectors of universities will be informed, and then they will decide how to launch these courses," said Blumberga. She also said that the environment protection lessons will be introduced in high schools as well, but first teachers have to be trained. Currently a course on environment protection is taught in Riga Technical University, at some regional higher education establishments and in environment-oriented programs at the University of Latvia.

The Latvian State Inspectorate for Heritage Protection sent UNESCO a detailed report on the preservation of the historical center of Riga. The report included information on the activities of the World Heritage Center in the preservation of the historical area, and showed positive changes in legislation. The report will be read at the 30th session of the UNESCO World Heritage committee to be held in New Zealand in July. During the committee's previous meeting last fall, Francesco Bandarin, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, voiced concerns over the intensive urban development in Riga's historical center. He believes that the development is necessary, but strict quality criteria should be met.

Police prepared a special plan for ensuring security during the gay pride festival planned for this summer in Riga. Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis declined to reveal how the police are planning to work during the parade and also declined to comment on the police performance during the 2006 gay pride festival. The gay pride festival "Friendship Days" will be held from May 30 to June 3 this year. Last July, activists of the No Pride anti-gay movement attacked members of Latvian and foreign gay and lesbian organizations at several venues of the gay pride festival. The police detained 14 people during the disturbances.

Defense Minister Atis Slakteris is scheduled to take part in an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers in Spain on Feb. 7 's 9. The ministers are expected to discuss further strategy concerning peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, as well as the future of international operations after the NATO Riga summit in general.