Latvija in brief - 2007-10-31

  • 2007-10-31
President Valdis Zatlers said that a government cannot properly operate with three missing ministers and began to speculate on the process of forming a new government during an Oct. 29 interview with the popular public radio show Krustpunkti. The president said that it is necessary for Latvia to have a long-term, functioning, stable government and that his role in choosing the next government would be "considerably high." He said that he will lay down strict criteria concerning who could fill ministerial positions and pointed to the ministers of health and education as particularly important posts. The president refused to comment any further, saying that it would be better not to rush things and to wait until the government falls.

Famous Latvian national basketball team center Andris Biedrins will not have his contract extended with the NBA's Golden State Warriors, his agent said on the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. His agent said that Biedrins could not come to an agreement with the team on extending the contract and that the star player will now be able to sign with another team next season. He went on to predict that Biedrins could garner as much as $10 million a year if he has a successful season.

On Oct. 29, the Riga Regional Court ruled in favor of the families of nine children who were killed in a hydraulic crane accident in 1997. The court handed down 120,000 lats (170,740 euros) in damages to the Latvian Fire and Rescue Service in what was the largest penalty to date of the 12 claims over the incident. During an Interior Ministry festival on July 28, 1997, the arm of a fire engine broke and a basket with 30 people fell from the height of 19 meters, killing nine children.

The Riga Regional Court sentenced three police officers to three years in jail on Oct. 26 for accepting a bribe from a Riga city cafe owner. A co-defendant was also sentenced to 80 hours of community service for failure to report the offense. In April 2005, Riga Central Police Department officers Edgars Bebriss, Vjaceslavs Andrianovs and Oskars Berzins seized 82 CDs and a CD player without proper documentation during an inspection of the cafe. The three officers then demanded that the cafe owner pay them 300 lats or they would continue the inspection and the cafe owner would be in "big trouble."

An enormous rally is planned for Saturday, Nov. 3 to protest the growing number of corruption scandals 's most importantly the decision to suspend anti-corruption chief Aleksejs Loskutovs 's which Latvia has recently been faced with. The protest is being organized by a number of disgruntled groups who feel that the government has been ignoring their "well-founded concern."  The rally will be held under the slogan "For a Law-Based Latvia! For Honest Politics!" The opposition New Era party has thrown its support behind the protest and is urging its followers to attend. It will be the latest in a series of massive protests over government corruption.