Latvija in brief - 2008-05-22

  • 2008-05-22
A car has crashed into the entrance of the "Maxima" shopping mall on Vienibas Street, and a safe with jewels, worth several thousand lats, was stolen from a jewelry store, thirty meters from the site of the crash within 30 seconds. A security guard was patrolling the mall at the time of the robbery but didn't hear the crash.  The car was abandoned inside the mall, as the robbers took off in the other car. A criminal case has been opened and an investigation is under way. The police have already found out that the car used was stolen.

Defense Minister Vinets Veldre said that patriotism is a necessity and it should be strengthened. He believes that there are several ways to achieve this and one of them is awareness of legislation and political planning. Latvia has several integration programs, to include minorities. There are education programs at schools in the competence of the Education and Science Ministry, military patriotic program for the youth guard in the competence of the Defense Ministry. He said that at this stage there also might be a failure as people might misinterpret this as cultivation of nationalism and chauvinism. He went on to say that any citizen could be a Latvian patriot, even if they do not speak Latvian at home.

The Riga Marathon held over the weekend attracted over 5000 runners from 35 countries. The goals of participants were varied, and many were running to support a cause, such as women's rights or safe sex. Professional athletes were ready to achieve good results as sponsor Nordea promised 10,000 euros to the winner. The overall winner of the marathon was Sammy Kibet Rotich from Kenya with a finishing time of 2:16:41. Famed Latvian runner and New York Marathon winner Jelena Prokopcuka also competed, winning the 5k mini-marathon with a time of just over 20 minutes.

Riga mayor Janis Birks has given the public permission to sit on the lawns of downtown Riga in a month-long experiment that has been announced in a hope that residents and guests of the Latvian capital will show responsible behavior. Birks said at a news conference Tuesday that the ban on sitting on lawns in the center of Riga would be temporary lifted as of June 2. Agnis Kalnkazins who heads Rigas Darzi un Parki (Riga Gardens and Parks), voiced his dislike of the experiment and engaged in a heated debate with the mayor. Kalnkazins strongly believes residents of Riga are not cultural enough to be allowed to sit on lawns. Madara Smite, an organizer of the Sitting Green campaign, announced that young people will be collecting information from June 2-6 on the time spent on lawns. Normally residents and guests of Riga are banned from walking or sitting on lawns in the green area of the city's historical center, as well as in green areas where signs have been put up. A recent public opinion poll suggests that nearly 70 percent of residents believe that the city's green areas should be made accessible to all.