Latvija in brief - 2009-05-07

  • 2009-05-07
Riga Mayor Janis Birks has pushed for a ban on all public events on May 9, arguing that the events could lead to uncontrollable disturbances. Birks urged the Riga City Council committee responsible for rallies, marches and demonstrations to turn down petitions seeking permission for organizing public events in Riga's Pardaugava. Birks said that since January 13, when organized rioting took place in the Old Town, not much has changed and nothing indicates that these activities will not recur, as the mayor's press secretary Kristine Liepa told LETA news agency. Currently several organizations have submitted petitions to the Riga City Council, seeking permission for organizing public events at the Monument to Soviet Soldiers.

Riga's Criminal Police unit has reported the discovery of three dead people in an apartment in Riga's Kurzeme region. Police representative Sigita Pildava said that two men, father and son, were found with gun shot wounds, while a woman 's the wife and mother 's was found stabbed. Police later reported that the son had been suffering from depression and stabbed his mother before shooting his father in the head and turning the gun on himself. A criminal process has been launched.

Latvia, along with Estonia and Lithuania, celebrated five years since its accession to the European Union on May 1 along with seven other nations. Latvia started accession talks with the EU in1999, completed in December 2002. The national referendum on Latvia's accession to the EU took place on September 20, 2003. Nearly 67 percent of Latvia's citizens voted for the country's accession to the EU, with 32 percent voting against.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Cases Chamber verdict in the Banka Baltija (BB) fraud case has finally come into force. Previously, the Supreme Court's Criminal Cases Chamber in November 2007 convicted BB supervisory council chairman Aleksandr Lavent and former BB president Talis Freimanis of most of the crimes that they had been charged with, and sentenced Lavent to seven years in prison and Freimanis to five years and six months in prison. Prosecutor Juris Peda had asked for a 13-year sentence for Lavent and nine years for Freimanis. Peda said that the two BB executives had plotted to embezzle the bank's depositors' money, and had attempted to convince the government to devalue the lat.

The government has given its support for a new tariff project from RIX Riga airport. The new project will eliminate the tariff discounts for some airlines, such as Ryanair. The new system will implement equal tariffs for all airlines. The new tariff system will run from Nov. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2010. Before the government meeting, Transport Minister Kaspars Gerhards said the new tariffs for the use of airport services by airlines will be reduced three-fold from the previous tariffs, and will be the lowest tariffs in Europe.
On April 25, the airport council decided to abandon the airport's previous tariff discount policy, which was acknowledged to be crippling competition at the airport and was only beneficial to Latvian airline airBaltic and Ryanair. AirBaltic and Ryanair previously received an 80 percent discount for the use of Riga's airport.