Latvija in brief - 2010-05-05

  • 2010-05-05

The Lithuanian Speaker of the Seimas, Irena Degutiene, congratulated the Latvian people on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the restoration of Latvian independence on May 4, reports LETA. “On my behalf and on behalf of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, I would like to sincerely congratulate you and the people of your country on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of restoration of Latvian independence,” wrote Degutiene in her letter to Speaker of the Latvian Saeima, Gundars Daudze. The Seimas speaker pointed out that Lithuania and Latvia have been committed to shared values for two decades. Degutiene wished Daudze and his parliament good luck, efficient and creative work, success in achieving all the goals and welfare to the people of Latvia. President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite was on a one-day visit to Riga at the invitation of the President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers to participate in the celebration of the Day of Independence of Latvia.

The State Police have arrested three men - a priest, a children’s hospital guard and an ex-con, on pedophilia charges, reports LETA. Their victims were underage males, among them the mentally impaired. The three suspects, who operated as a group, used their victims’ vulnerable states, and in many cases forced them to consume alcohol or threatened them with physical force. The investigation began in October 2009, when a Children’s Home staff member suspected that one of the boys there suffered from sexual abuse. The first arrest came on Nov. 24 - a guard at a Riga children’s hospital. This suspect revealed during interrogation that he had taken advantage, sexually, of children for several years, and had not acted alone. On April 22, a second arrest was made in Latgale province – a clergyman, Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Daugavpils Diocese Vicar Agris Pavils Levalds. The third arrest came in Riga - a jobless ex-con with no permanent address.

The average seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Latvia in March was 22.3 percent, as Latvia registered the highest unemployment rate in the European Union (EU) for the seventh month in a row, according to the latest data from the EU statistical office Eurostat, reports LETA. Up until last September, unemployment in Latvia was the second highest in the EU, second only to Spain, while in 2007 and the first half of 2008, it was among the lowest in the EU, and lower than the average for the EU as a whole. The next highest unemployment rates in March were registered in Spain (19.1 percent), Slovakia (14.1 percent), Ireland (13.2 percent - third quarter), and Hungary (11 percent). The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in the Netherlands (4.1 percent), Austria (4.9 percent), Luxembourg (5.6 percent), and Cyprus (6.7 percent). The average seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in the 27 European Union (EU) member states was 9.6 percent in March, the same as in February.