Latvija in brief - 2007-08-29

  • 2007-08-29
The Latvian language daily Latvijas Avize reported on Aug. 28 that Economic Minister Juris Strods had submitted an application to go on vacation, after which he was very likely to resign. The paper reported that Strods was making the move due to personal family issues, rather than from pressure by Prime Minister Kalvitis and Transport Minister Slesers. Strods said that most of the criticism leveled against him stemmed from rich landowners upset with the government's policy toward lakeshore properties. In a press conference later that day, however, Strods denied the information released about his resignation. He said that he was in fact planning holidays for personal reasons, but called speculation about his resignation "baseless."

Raimonds Munkevics, mayor of the seaside resort city of Jurmala, sent a letter to Parliament on Aug. 27 asking lawmakers to consider granting former President Vaira Vike-Freiberga a property in the town. The Jurmala city council was hoping that Parliament would revise legislation to make it possible to allocate state-owned real estate property to individuals in the form of gratitude for special merits. Munkevics underscored in the letter that the ex-president's contribution to the Latvian state and nation has been "grand." A campaign called "support the president" has gathered more than 11,000 signatures in support of the cause.

A number of powerful lawmakers have greeted with scorn former Prime Minister Andris Berzins' proposal to compensate parliamentarians for business class flights. Berzins argued that the hardships of economy class travel put undue strain on lawmakers, eroding their ability to perform their duties. Maris Kucinskis, head of the ruling People's Party, said that he saw no difference between economy and business except for "a sandwich." Meanwhile, the head of the Greens and Farmers Union said that lawmakers do not need the bonus and the head of the TB/LNNK nationalist alliance called the proposal a waste of money.

Education Minister Baiba Rivze stated on Aug. 27 that she believes the controversial Russian-language school reforms have been a success. She explained that this was the first year that the centralized examinations have been held exclusively in Latvian, and observers noted that almost all of the students understood what was being asked of them. Since September 1, 2004, minority secondary schools in Latvia have been required gradually transform their studies so that 60 percent of the lessons are held in Latvian. The reform was completed in 2007 this year. "Children are getting cleverer," the minister said.

Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis told LNT on Aug. 28 that Latvian authorities are preparing to contact Russian authorities in order to find out whether the highly-publicized killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya may be connected with crimes in Latvia. Godmanis said that the request was expected, as the assassins are expected to have carried out contract killings in Latvia as well. Godmanis mentioned two specific murders that he thought could be attributed to Politkovskaya's killers.

Raimonds Munkevics, mayor of seaside resort city of Jurmala, sent a letter to Parliament on Aug. 27 asking lawmakers to consider granting former President Vaira Vike-Freiberga a property in the town. The Jurmala city council was hoping that Parliament would revise legislation to make it possible to allocate state-owned real estate property to individuals in the form of gratitude for special merits. Munkevics underscored in the letter that the ex-president's contribution to the Latvian state and nation has been "grand." A campaign called "support the president" has gathered more than 11,000 signatures in support of the cause.
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