Latvija in brief - 2007-06-06

  • 2007-06-06
The forests of Saulkrasti caught fire on June 4, consuming approximately 20 hectares of land. Specialists believe that the cause was arson. The fire broke out in four different places at once and spread quickly from bursts of wind. A large part of the Riga-Ogre forestry staff was needed to extinguish the fire, along with eight fire fighting trucks and fire fighters from the surrounding districts. According to the State Forest Service, 246 forest fires have been registered this year, affecting a total of 206 hectares. This was so far the largest fire of the year.

Recent data released by the Riga City Council found that 26 percent of the clients of homeless shelters in Riga were employed last winter. The number of employed people forced to stay in homeless shelters is one indicator of how much prices outstrip wages in the city. The total number of economically active and working clients of homeless shelters was 216 people, which represents the second largest group of clients this winter. The data also found that there were a total of 42 children staying in homeless shelters last winter.

The British national who was famously caught urinating on Freedom Monument Square while posing for his friends' cameras was issued a 45 lat (64 euro) fine on June 4. The defendant was not present at the court hearing and has not been prevented from leaving the country. The British national was apprehended in a square near the Freedom Monument on March 16. He was charged with petty hooliganism, a charge carrying a maximum fine of 50 lats or 15 days in jail. The man was found to be under the influence of alcohol.

Visvaldis Pukite, the head of the Latvian Prison Administration, said said on June 5 that the electronic tracking devices used for keeping track of ex-convicts after their release is ineffective and not worth the investment. He proposed instead to invest in cutting edge "chips or bracelets" to help with tracking people. He told the parliamentary committee of defense, interior, and corruption prevention that he thought the equipment was inefficient. The issue of electronic tracking of convicts after their release from jail became topical after the murder of 13 year-old Justine Legzdina committed by a man previously convicted for a violent crime.

Sixty-five Latvian troops are scheduled to leave for Afghanistan in June, and 27 are set to return home in July, raising the total number of Latvian troops in the country from 34 to 72 by the end of the rotation. The fresh troops traveling to Afghanistan leave in two waves, one on June 5 and one on June 12. They will consist of 20 unexploded ordnance experts and 45 troops from the land forces. Also on June 5, 150 Latvian troops will begin training exercises with logistics experts from the United States in the Latvian town
of Adazi.