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On Oct. 29, the Riga Regional Court sentenced Mareks Laizans, accused of taking part in the Jan. 13, 2009 mini-riot in Old Town Riga, to three-and-a-half years in prison, reports LETA. Laizans was found guilty pursuant to the Criminal Law’s Section 225 - civil disorder. The full verdict will be available on Nov. 12 and Laizans will have ten days to appeal. According to the Prosecutor General Office’s spokeswoman Aiga Senberga, Laizans, previously convicted for other crimes, was charged with smashing cars, shop windows and robbing a liquor store during the Jan. 13 mini-riot. On Jan. 13, 2009, a peaceful demonstration on Riga’s Dome Square was followed by rioting, mostly by drunken teenagers, hooligans and opportunists, in a part of the city’s Old Town, where several people, including policemen, were injured and state, municipal and private property damaged.
Education and Science Minister Roberts Kilis on Oct. 26 signed an agreement with the Nordic Council of Ministers on an international evaluation of 136 scientific institutes of Latvia, reports LETA. Latvia’s scientific and innovation systems and the performance of the scientific institutes of Latvia will be assessed by international experts, who will present their recommendations for the development of scientific and technological policies in Latvia. “The signing of the agreement is very important because, in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers, we will have an independent evaluation of Latvian scientific institutions by international experts. This is necessary so we could make informed and well thought-out decisions for viable development of science in Latvia,” said Kilis. The agreement was signed by Kilis and the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Latvia Director Imants Gross.
The salaries of Saeima members and ministers should be raised considerably so that young graduates from the world’s most prestigious universities would want to enter Latvia’s political arena, former politician Janis Krumins said in an interview with LETA. According to Krumins, only these people will be able to expand Latvia’s “political pond” to the size of a lake, or even further. Krumins voted for the Declaration of the Renewal of Independence of Latvia on May 4, 1990, actively participated in the establishment of Latvia’s Way and New Era political parties, and was the state reforms minister in Andris Berzins’ government from 2000 to 2003. The former politician expresses regret that political leaders in Latvia are despised shortly after they emerge. “You are a hero if you are running in Saeima elections. But, once elected, you are perceived as a thief and a bandit,” says Krumins. He believes that the current situation could be solved by considerably increasing the salaries of MPs and ministers, so there would be real competition for these positions. Therefore, young graduates from Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, MIT and other prestigious universities, and there are quite a few such people in Latvia, will want to enter Latvia’s politics, fulfilling their ambitions as well as their financial interests.