The Central Statistics Bureau on April 27 revealed that due to long-term migration, Latvia’s population shrank by 4,700 people last year, reports the Latvian Institute. In 2008, the population decreased by 2,542 people. Last year 2,688 persons from 71 countries moved to Latvia, down 22.4 percent from 2008. One-fourth arrived from Russia, 8 percent from Lithuania, 7.7 percent from Germany, 6.7 percent from the UK, 4 percent from Belarus and 3.6 percent from Sweden and Estonia each. Also, 7,388 persons departed from Latvia for residence in 92 countries, which is a growth of 23 percent from 2008. Of those, 22.7 percent moved to Russia, 14.8 percent to the UK, 9.2 percent to Germany and 6.6 percent to Ireland. The number of Latvians who have relocated to the UK in 2009 has doubled from 2008. Emigration to Russia increased 1.3 times and relocation to Germany 1.2 times, while the number of Latvians who have left for Ireland has dropped by about half from 2008.
Businesses and properties valued at around 70 million lats (100 million euros) and belonging to People’s Party leader Andris Skele and members of his family have been pledged as collateral with banks, reports the magazine Ir. The largest registered collateral is the company ‘Rets investicijas.’ All its wind farms, valued at 24.5 million lats, have been pledged to Parex bank. This sum is larger than the stated value of the assets, which, according to the 2008 annual report, is 8.7 million lats. Large loans have been taken for the acquisition of two parcels of real estate. Skele’s company ‘TA sabiedriba,’ which acquired ‘Tango projects,’ the planned new complex in central Riga, is pledged for 19 million lats. The property of Baltas kapas, the former Juraslicis collective fishery in Jurmala, is pledged for 15 million lats. Skele claims that the companies can cope with their debt repayments, despite the slumping economy.
“If I am arrested, I will definitely run in the next Saeima elections and vie for the premier’s post; if not, I will have to see,” said Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs in an interview with LNT on May 7, reports LETA. Talks continue within the Union of Greens and Farmers on whether to nominate Lembergs for prime minister after the elections. Lembergs said that Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis’ (New Era) statements, “and a few other signals,” suggest that the authorities are about to arrest him, because “political opponents see no other way in competing” against him. Lembergs said that it would be hard to predict the results of the elections because they may be influenced “by me taking part, or not taking part.” He urged voters “not to forget their heroes” as well as those who, contrary to their promises, reduced retirement pensions. A recent GfK poll shows that today’s top choice for prime minister is Lembergs with 45.9 percent, followed by Dombrovskis with 44.3 percent.