Much of the news that ends up in The Baltic Times tends toward the odd simply by virtue of the fact that we cover Latvian politics. But a few stories from 2007 stand out as particularly memorable:
To pee or not to pee
Much Latvian media attention was given this year to cases in which British nationals were caught urinating on the Freedom Monument or on its square. The first actually happened in 2006, for which the culprit was fined 810 lats (1,152 euros). On March 16 a second arrest was made 's this time the Brit was caught urinating on Freedom Monument Square while posing for his friends' cameras. Ironically the incident coincided with the launch of the British Embassy's "Responsible Tourism" campaign, which urged British citizens visiting Latvia to behave, observe the law and avoid urinating in public. This time the man was fined 45 lats (64 euros).
Drunkard claws his way to the top
A drunken man climbed up the cables of Riga's Vansu Tilts (Suspension Bridge) on April 15 and refused to come down unless given a sandwich. Authorities were forced to stop all traffic to the bridge for hours and remove the man with a cherry-picker. The man was charged with disorderly conduct and then taken to a psychiatric ward.
Beware of edgy giraffes
Stories involving exotic animals are usually good value for "odd story" hunters, though it's hard to laugh at the plight of 22-year-old student Ruta Greiciute, who ended up in hospital on May 6 after her late-night date with Solutas, a 9-year-old male giraffe at the Kaunas Zoo, ended in disaster. She and three friends, evidently under the influence of alcohol, got into the zoo after hours and somehow managed their way over a four-meter fence and into the giraffe enclosure. By the time rescue workers pulled her free, Ruta had suffered fractures of the cheekbone, nose and collarbone, all from Solutas' kicks. Newspapers speculated Solutas may have been on edge because of noisy student parties nearby.
The blind driver of Tartu
This summer The Baltic Times reported that police in Tartu stopped a drunk driver in the early hours of Aug. 5 only to discover that he was, in fact, blind. They noticed the disability when he had trouble seeing the breathalizer they were trying to give him. It turns out 20-year-old Kristjan was being guided by a teenage passenger, who was also drunk. In our next issue we had to report that Kristjan had been caught driving a second time, guided by friends, in the nearby village of Torvandi. Even stranger, it turned out he was actually the owner of the AUDI 80 in which he was caught.
Deep in the merde
A French citizen was rescued from a Vilnius apartment on Oct. 16 where he had been handcuffed to a radiator for several days after being robbed by a woman he met on the Internet. According initial reports, the French national met the Lithuanian woman online and came to Vilnius for the weekend. The girl invited him into an apartment, where she and a friend deprived him of his cash and credit cards, and then handcuffed him to the apartment's radiator. On the morning of Oct. 16, the Frenchman tore the radiator off and started yelling for help from the window. When water starting to pour from the broken pipe, neighbors thought the commotion was a fire and called the fire brigade, who rescued the captive.