Latvija in brief - 2008-11-12

  • 2008-11-12
The Latvian State Police plan to fire 507 employees. According to an order given by the State Police head, 150 policemen will be laid off from the Riga Regional Department, 39 from the Daugavpils Department and 35 from the Ludza Department.  The heads of these departments have to submit the lists of people to be fired by mid-November. At present, it is not known yet which specialists will lose their jobs. An austerity policy is being implemented in all state institutions. Downsizing is also planned in the Border Guard, the State Fire and Rescue Service and other structures of the Ministry of the Interior.

A court in Jelgava ruled to arrest a 23-year old man suspected of killing two Latvian soldiers. Court representatives did not reveal the identity of the suspect. Police have reportedly solved the double murder, which was committed in central Latvia. The suspect is linked to the military. The alleged murderer was reportedly an acquaintance of the victims, and he had supposedly met with them to recover a small debt. The Ministry of Defense confirmed the military affiliation of the two suspected murderers. The bodies of two men with gunshot wounds to the head were found in a SUV in Zalenieki in the Jelgava region. Police said the bodies were found on the weekend of Nov.8-9 shortly after the killings took place.  Both victims were about 30 years old.

The Riga Regional Court sentenced a fake healer accused of fraud to a five year jail term, arresting the woman in the court room.  Smuidra Velicko was found guilty of fraud, but was acquitted for illegal activities involving financial instruments and methods of payments.  Velicko, who pretended to be a healer named Marija, convinced her patient to take a loan from a bank and give the money to her.  She promised to return it later. She managed to swindle more than 6,000 lats from her patient, and did not return the money.   The swindler will have to pay 1,000 lats (1,422 euros) in compensation to her victim. Velicko has been found sane in psychological assessments. She did not plead guilty in court.

Riga City Mayor Janis Birks believes that Riga is ready to become the European Capital of Culture in 2014.  The council has been working seriously with the project, and the mayor said that, comparing cultural activities over the past four years, the city's cultural life is becoming more varied.  He also said that many culture projects are still to be implemented.  The 2014 European Capitals of Culture will be in Latvia and Sweden, but the specific cities are yet to be selected. Each country is able to select its own culture capital either based on a vote or based on competition. The winning cities will receive financial support of one million lats (1.42 million euros) and they will also gain advantages for attracting financial resources. The title of the Capital of Culture is not assigned based on a city's achievements in the past or its culture heritage, but in recognition of the culture program prepared for the respective year.  Other Latvian cities - Liepaja, Cesis and Jurmala - will also apply for the title.