Latvija in brief - 2008-07-30

  • 2008-07-30
The Cabinet has adopted amendments to the official language laws widening the number of professions required to use the state language. The new language law will require that maids, transport mechanics, electricians, florists, photographers, accountants and postmen have a better knowledge of the Latvian language. "These employees should be able to communicate also in the Latvian language," Justice Minister Gaidis Berzins said. The amendments were prepared by experts from the Justice Ministry and the State Language Center.

Police have arrested the members of a 10 man drug ring that had been operating in Riga and Valmiera for nearly a year. A chain reaction of arrests was sparked when police brought in a 44-year-old man from Valmiera with slightly over one gram of methamphetamines and less that one gram of marijuana. The arrest led investigators up the food chain to a 35-year-old man living in Riga who was found with 102 grams of methamphetamine, and then on to his supplier, a 26-year-old man from a Riga suburb who held more than 500 grams of the drug. From there the string of arrests quickly ballooned. The detained said that it is possible to sell up to one kilogram of methamphetamine monthly.

Only about 100 Latvian sports fans are expected to attend the summer Olympic Games in Beijing (see Outlook Page 16), approximately 20 times less than the number who attended the 2006 winter Games in Turin. Ruta Berkmane, the director of the tourism company Express Travel, told the Baltic News Service that the low number of travelers could be attributed to the high travel costs -- the total cost of the trip is about 1,500 lats (2,134 euros). She said another factor to the high attendance at Turin was the large number of hockey fans that made the trip.

In what amounts to the largest sports contract in Baltic history, Latvian basketball star Andris Biedris has signed a 63 million dollar six-year contract with the Golden State Warriors. The 22-year-old player was only 18 when he was drafted onto the team. He quickly made a name for himself, and became one of the best players on the team with 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds last season in just over 27 minutes per game and leading the league in field goal percentage with .626. The Warriors had wanted to sign Biedrins for significantly less, but increased their offer when they heard he had received substantial offers from numerous Russian teams.

The state police have arrested two more British men peeing on the Freedom Monument. On July 24, a British national was caught urinating on the Freedom Monument and issued a 200 lat fine. The following day at 2:30 a.m., another British man was caught urinating in the flower bed next to the monument. Over the past two years, British men have been peeing on the famous statue in increasing numbers.