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Latvija in brief - 2008-12-03

  • 2008-12-03
Latvia will receive 30 wounded military officials from Georgia, who will come to the country for medical rehabilitations that will cost close to 20,000 lats (28,500 euros). This aid comes in response to a NATO Civil Emergency Planning Committee request to Latvia, to provide free medical treatment for Georgian military officials who were injured during the armed conflict between Georgia and Russia in August. A 21-day rehabilitation course for 30 people will cost 19,750 lats total. The cost will be paid from the Latvian Health Ministry's budget. The Latvian Defense Ministry plans to cover the travel costs for these Georgian military officials. Travel costs in the total amount of 9,000 lats will be paid for out of the Defense Ministry budget.

Troops of the Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) will not be deployed to Somalia to participate in an anti-piracy mission, at least not in the near future. Latvia is only supporting the anti-piracy mission financially, as it has no vessels which would be useful in Somalia.  The aim of the EU anti-piracy mission is to improve the security of shipping off the Somali coast, and to put an end to pirates' attacks. The EU mission "Atlanta" is set to take over the current NATO operation in Somalia in mid-December.  The UN has adopted a resolution allowing foreign ships to fight pirates in the Somali territorial waters. Armed pirates have seized more than 60 ships in Somali waters this year.  Somali pirates often demand ransom for the seized ships and their crews. At present the pirates are holding ransom a Ukrainian cargo ship with a Latvian resident on board. 

A Polish truck loaded with 17 tons of dynamite crashed on the Riga bypass road on the night of Dec. 1. The volatile cargo did not explode, and it was soon taken to safety. The accident happened when the truck's tire burst not far from the Tallinn turnoff. The driver managed to keep the truck on the road.  The truck has gone to a repair facility, to receive a new tire.  The truckload of dynamite was being transported to Finland, where the explosives were to be used in granite mines.  

Latvia has the second highest number of HIV positive people in the Baltic states. A total of 4,265 people in Latvia are now living with the infection, according to the Latvian Public Health Agency. Lithuania has 1,376 HIV positive people, and Estonia has 6,860 HIV positive people. Experts attribute these figures to the different drug use histories in each country, as well as possibly belated diagnostics and more active prevention in Lithuania.  Of all intravenous drug addicts in Latvia, 22.6 percent have already caught the HIV infection.  So far this year, 32 people in Latvia have died of AIDS, and 14 HIV positive people have died without falling ill with AIDS. Another 68 people have fallen ill with AIDS and 284 have contracted HIV.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe said that Latvian non-citizens should be granted the right to vote in local elections.The congress on Dec. 2 heard a report by French representative Jean-Claude Frecon on non-citizens' problems in Latvia. After debates, the congress adopted several recommendations, including granting of voting rights to non-citizens. Kastens told reporters after the debates that these are only recommendations, but their meaning should not be underrated.