Latvija in brief - 2007-11-07

  • 2007-11-07
The Canadian government lifted visa requirements for citizens of Latvia and the Czech Republic on Oct. 31. Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley said that she hopes the new visa-free regime will "help us build on those relationships to the benefit of Canadians and the citizens of the Republic of Latvia." The move was prompted by EU threats of sanctions if Canada failed to lift the visa requirements for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. In 2006, approximately 1,100 travel visas were issued to Latvian citizens.

The government approved a new distribution plan for CO2 emissions quotas on Nov. 6. The quotas will be distributed in a way that heavily favors promoting industrial production at the expense of the energy sector, which will most likely see hikes to electricity and heat supply tariffs as a result of the plan. The EU-issued quotas were increased by 0.15 million tons in July, but still fall 6.25 million tons's or 44.5 percent 's short of the amount Latvia had initially requested. The Economy Ministry and the Environment Ministry will be in charge of implementing the new quota distribution plan.

Finance Minister and acting Municipal Affairs Minister Oskars Spurdzins decided to call a halt to Riga's controversial waste management reform plan on Nov. 6. Former Municipal Affairs Minister Aigars Stokenbergs claimed that it was his opposition to the waste management reform plan 's in which so-called "Latvian oligarch" Andris Skele has business interests 's that led to his being sacked from the party and the ministry. The Municipal Affairs ministry had previously argued for stopping the plan on the grounds that it would restrict the rights of Riga residents and companies by hindering competition.

An extraordinary conference of judges adopted a resolution on Nov. 2 calling on every judge to "honor ethical values." The document invokes the constitution to encourage judges to act in an independent and objective manner. The resolution comes in response to a high-profile case surrounding tape-recorded conversations between judges and lawyers, in which they prearranged the outcome of court cases. The document notes that the wiretapped conversations "revealed serious violations of the constitution." Prosecutor Generals Janis Maizitis told the assembled judges that his probe into the case was nearly completed.

The government endorsed an agreement on sending spent nuclear fuel from the old Salaspils reactor back to Russia. The Salaspils rector has been closed since the mid-90s and is now maintained by the State Hazardous Waste Management Agency. All of the leftover fresh fuel was already sent to Russia in 2005. The agreement is expected to be signed sometime during the week of Nov. 12. The reactor was closed in 1995 and ended operations in 1998 amid concerns over its age. A complete dismantling of the reactor is scheduled for completion in 2010, after which the site will be used for a new pharmacological drug production center.