Latvija in brief - 2009-07-15

  • 2009-07-15
As reported in June, the State Revenue Service uncovered what they called the biggest money laundering bust in Latvian history. The SRS has now disclosed just how much was laundered 's 30.89 million lats. The millions were apparently used in fake transactions in Riga, reported the SRS. Financial Police officers also uncovered 57 fake companies which were used by three groups of criminals to launder the millions and withdraw funds.

Health Minister Baiba Rozentale has announced that an outbreak of the AH1N1 flu is expected between December and February of 2009-2010. No vaccine has been prepared for the flu, nor do scientists expect one to be ready by the winter. Rozentale estimated that around 8,000 people will need to be hospitalized. The few cases of swine flu registered in Latvia have been relatively mild.

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Public Health Agency will be liquidated. The functions of the agency will be divided up between other Health Ministry institutions according to a cabinet meeting on reorganization. The functions will be divided between the Health Ministry, the Health Inspectorate of Latvia, the Center for Infectious Diseases of Latvia, the Disaster Medicine Center, and the Economic Health Institute. As part the reorganization, 235 staff will lose their jobs, saving the health sector 2.61 million lats (3.7 million euro). 

Agris Jankovics, a Latvian living in Ireland and working delivering pizzas, is being honored for his heroic rescue of a drowning man. The 25-year-old Apache Pizza employee in Drogheda, Ireland dove into the Boyne River to save the man. According to the Drogheda Independent, Jankovics and other employees were taking a break when they heard a commotion from the man's wife and children. Jankovics is to be honored at a ceremony in November with the "Just in Time" award for bravery from the Irish Water Safety board. The ceremony will take place at Dublin Castle, and is sponsored by the Seiko watch company. The company will present Jankovics with a new timepiece for his work. Jankovics told media that he was not frightened by the jump of several meters into the river, as he had jumped from much higher points in Liepaja, Latvia.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO Secretary General who has led NATO since its last enlargement in 2004, paid a farewell visit to the Baltic states on July 9th. During his sixth visit to Latvia since presiding over Latvia's entry in NATO in 2004, he met with President Valdis Zatlers, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis and expressed gratitude for Latvia's cooperation and active involvement in the Transatlantic Security organization. Scheffer expressed satisfaction of having had the chance to assist Latvia in making its dream come true. Under Scheffer's leadership, NATO held its 2006 Summit in Riga, Latvia. The historic Riga Summit assembled 26 heads of state and government, and was the first NATO Summit ever to be held in one of the Baltic States. Lithuania and Estonia also joined NATO in 2004.