I have heard my friends telling stories about how Latvian Police are used to blackmailing Estonian drivers.
Now I had a chance to try that. I needed to pick up my wife from Riga Airport. It was quite late and the airport seemed empty. There were some Latvian signs which I did not understand because I don't speak that language. But since I saw two cars stopped there, I thought it would be ok to stop and pick her up as she was already waiting with her bags.
I could not even finish putting the bags into my trunk when a police van arrived. This took them less than a minute. They explained that I was not allowed to stop there. I tried to explain the situation and that I would be leaving in 30 seconds but they said, "It will be very unpleasant for you. Unless you think." It took me a while to understand so I asked, "What should I think about?" The policeman responded, "Come in and show what you have in your wallet." I was out of cash so I only had a 5 euro note. He looked at it and said, "I won't touch it, but you sit here and you think. After you have reached a conclusion, you may forget that bill on this seat and leave." I was stubborn and refused to understand. So he made it very clear, "Or, we would have to make it really unpleasant for you."
So I left my money on that seat in the police van and was able to leave the car and drive home. But I keep thinking that these dirty policemen and their bosses do more to the Latvian reputation than any campaign can do. That is because I would keep telling that story to all my friends to warn them. No matter how good deals airBaltic would offer, the first thing I will remember is the dirty police.
Of course, this is a matter of their bosses who get their own share. Why would I say that? Because, it would just take one car with Estonian license plate stopped in front of airport or speeding on its way to Valka to find a dirty policeman. Unwillingness to do so in order to stop this organized blackmailing is a crime against Latvian nation, especially in these hard times. I wish the best to all the Latvian people.