Latvija in brief - 2012-08-23

  • 2012-08-22

A support rally took place for the Russian female punk rock group Pussy Riot outside the Russian Embassy in Riga on Aug. 17, reports LETA. Approximately 50 persons gathered at the rally, chanting slogans like ‘Free them!’ and ‘Hey Putin, let the girls go!’ Saeima Member Lolita Cigane (Unity) also was seen at the support rally. The event’s organizer, student Armands Leimanis, said the support rally was aimed at emphasizing that Moscow’s legal proceedings against Pussy Riot have so far been politicized and unfair. After the court’s verdict, finding the band members guilty and sentencing them to 2 years in jail, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Reform Party) on Aug. 17 wrote on his Twitter account that the court ruling is unjust. Rinkevics urged Russian institutions to change the ruling, as it goes against the basic freedoms of the country’s citizens. The European Union immediately called the decision “disproportionate” while Washington urged Moscow to review the case.

The government on Aug. 17 approved amendments to regulations on educator salaries, envisaging an increase in teacher, school principal and assistant principal salaries as of Sept. 1, reports LETA. The lowest salaries will be raised by ten percent or 25 lats (35.7 euros). As of Sept. 1, teachers whose length of service is less than five years will receive a pay hike, from 245 lats to 270 lats; those with ten or more years from 255 lats to 280 lats. Principal and assistant principal salaries will be raised by ten percent. According to the Education and Science Ministry’s estimates, principal salaries will increase by 45 lats to 342 lats; assistant principal salaries by 34 lats to 240 lats.

Twenty million lats (28.5 million euros) could be allotted to resolving Latvia’s demographic issues next year, Finance Minister Andris Vilks (Unity) told the LNT morning show ‘900 sekundes’ on Aug. 16, reports This sum could be allocated to various programs, raising maternity, paternity and parental benefit ceilings, implementing the so-called mother and child program, increasing personal income tax breaks for families with dependants, emphasized the minister. This is a politically and economically necessary step, said Vilks. On Aug. 14, ruling coalition partners met at the Welfare Ministry and continued discussing various measures for improving the demographic situation in Latvia next year. The ministries proposed several measures and their implementation would require 35.5 million lats in 2013. The partners agreed on the necessity for greater personal income tax breaks for families with dependants.

Around 180,000 people attended the Riga Festival from Aug. 17 through Aug. 19, Riga City Council representative Anna Kononova said, reports LETA. About 50,000 watched the fireworks display at the Daugava Embankment. The number of participants at the Riga Festival has increased - last year 120,000 people attended. Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs expressed his thanks to the organizers of the festival and all authorities involved. According to the Riga Municipal Police, the festival this year passed peacefully and without any noteworthy incidents. The Riga Festival continued for three days. Altogether, more than 60 various events were held in the center, Old Town, Pardaugava, Mezaparks and other areas of the city. The Riga Festival marked the 730th anniversary since Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1282.