The Latvian Literature Annual Awards ceremony was held in Riga on April 18 with the lifetime achievement award going to novelist Alberts Bels, reports LETA. The award for best poetry collection went to Ingmara Balode’s ‘Alba,’ published by publishing house Mansards, whereas Kristine Ulberga’s ‘Zala varna’ (Green Crow), published by Dienas gramata, won the best prose work award. The best translation award went to Guntars Grodins’ translation of Finnish poet Heli Laaksonen’s works, whereas Inese Zandere’s ‘Lize analize,’ published by Liels un mazs, was awarded as best children’s book. Daina Sirma’s book Kailsals (Ice Storm), published by Petergailis, was awarded as the debut of 2012. Latvian Literature Center’s special award for contribution to translation of Latvian literature went to Mathias Knoll for translation of Maris Putnins’ ‘Mezonigie piragi.’
In its annual human rights reports, the United States Department of State said that Latvia’s main human rights problem is corruption, reports LETA. The U.S. State Department also says that conditions at police detention facilities and prisons remain poor; facilities are inadequate and guards abuse detainees and prisoners. Violence against women, including rape and domestic violence, remained a persistent problem and often was not reported to police. Other human rights problems in the report included lengthy pretrial detention, delays in court proceedings, political interference in state-owned media, and excessive bureaucratic requirements for public demonstrations. The U.S. State Department also says that non-citizens, who constituted approximately 14 percent of the adult population, naturalized at a slow rate and could not participate in the election process. Other problems reported during the year included abuse of children, anti-Semitic incidents, trafficking in persons, and societal discrimination against sexual minorities. The government generally took adequate steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, although concerns existed regarding impunity in corruption matters, the report said.
In a statement released last week, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China expresses concern about the recent visit to Riga by Mr. Thubten Samdup, representative for the 14th Dalai Lama, and the latter’s scheduled visit in September, reports LETA. The Embassy says that a Riga city councilman had invited Samdup, who represents “The ‘Tibetan government-in-exile,’ an illegal organization dedicated to split Tibet from China.” Furthermore, “in disregard to the strong opposition from the Chinese Embassy,” the guest had meetings with several Saeima and Cabinet officials. “It was later disclosed that the 14th Dalai Lama will be invited to visit Latvia in the coming September.”