Latvija in brief - 2007-07-04

  • 2007-07-04
The Latvian produced film "Monotonija" (Monotony) has won the prize for Best Film in the Russian international film festival. The nine-day festival, which finished with an award ceremony on June 30, is titled "Perspectives" and is currently in its 29th year. The 90-minute film was directed by Juris Poskus and starred Iveta Pole 's both Latvians. According to a Ministry of Culture press release, the film was financed largely out of the state budget and has shown that Latvian cinema is capable of being competitive. The film portrays a young woman named Ilze who dreams of becoming an actress in Riga, but must deal with failure and a boyfriend who went to Ireland for work.

The Internal Security Bureau of the State Police detained three police officers on June 27 after businessman Kaspars Ievins-Brambis died while in police custody. The incident happened at the popular tourist destination of Sigulda, 50 kilometers from Riga. Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis said on the popular television show "900 Seconds" that the testimonies from the officers are contradictory and that a "number of people have not been telling the truth" about the incident. An official autopsy has been ordered to identify the cause of Ievins-Brambis' death.
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President Vaira Vike-Freiberga promulgated a highly controversial amendment to the scientific work law on July 1. While the law deals with many aspects of scientific work, including handing over legal control of scientific institutions, it also contains a clause recognizing academic degrees granted during the Soviet regime. Supporters pointed to the qualified but unrecognized individuals with legitimate degrees, while critics said that it may allow people with questionable degrees issued by the Soviet Union, such as "scientific communism" or "Leninist studies," to become accredited.

The July 3 "Judicial Ethics, Reform and Transparency" conference in Riga saw more than 200 experts from seven different countries contribute their views to the judiciary future of Latvia. Among the participants was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who explained the importance of the media's role in instilling confidence in the judiciary system, but noted that it would be a long process. Justice Minister Gaidis Berzins also stressed the role of journalists, encouraging them to report on positive aspects and citing a survey in which half of respondents said they did not trust Latvia's judiciary system.

A renovated vintage streetcar was launched at a ceremony in a tram terminal in Riga on July 2. The restored art nouveau tram is meant to promote the Latvian capital. A ride on the tram costs three lats (4.2 euros), holders of the ISIC international student ID card are charged two lats, the fare for schoolchildren and pensioners is one lat, while children under six may ride free-of-charge. Each passenger of the vintage tram receives two booklets on art nouveau routes in Riga. The tram will run its 10 stop route until the end of September.