Reporter threatened with AIDS syringe

  • 2001-07-19
  • Jorgen Johansson
RIGA - A new type of criminal has been reported operating in one of Riga's shadier districts. According to a Russian language daily, Chas, one of their reporters was attacked by a small group of young men armed with a syringe, which the attackers warned was infected with HIV.

The reporter, Jaroslav Lubich, wrote he was confronted by the teenagers when he was reading a newspaper. They came up to him, held out the syringe and asked for his money.

According to the Baltic News Service, one of the perpetrators told Lubich he had already killed two Latvians who chose not to cooperate, and that he had no conscience left since he had been an AIDS patient for the last two years, having been infected by a syringe himself.

Lubich pulled a knife to defend himself, he said, and this scared the attackers off. Afterwards, the journalist went to report the incident to the police.

The only reason Lubich was on the scene was that he was allegedly following up a lead that had been sent to the newspaper. Chas reported they received a letter on July 16 from a resident in the Maskava suburb of Riga, where youngsters were robbing people armed with syringes and threatening to give their victims AIDS.

Krists Leiskalns, spokesman for the state police, said this was the first case ever reported to the police in Latvia where robbers have been armed in this way. He expressed doubts about Lubich's story.

"I think it's pretty strange that it would happen to a journalist following up a lead for a story," he said.

Lubich suggested this type of hold-up is quite common in Moscow, Russia, where it has already developed into a serious problem.

Police in Latvia recommend that it is better not to put up a struggle with these sort of attackers. Should one be exposed to these threats the best thing, according to police, is to part with some money, try to remember the looks of the attacker, and then report the incident.