Off the wire

  • 2001-08-02
PRINCELY VISIT: Britain's Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, expects to visit Latvia in early November and intends to meet with Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, reported the British Embassy in Riga. Prince Charles' plans for the visit also include a trip outside the capital. Prince Charles will visit the three Baltic states from November 5 to 9. Latvia is the only Baltic state that has already been visited by Prince Charles. In 1995 he inaugurated the British Embassy building in Riga. Prince Andrew has also been to Latvia. The Prince of Wales, now 52, is heir to the throne currently held by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Charles is patron and supporter of more than 200 public and charity organizations.

FALSE EDUCATION: The Estonian Education Ministry is considering closing illegal branches of Russian higher educational institutions discovered in the northeastern city of Kohtla-Jarve for the reason that it has not issued them operating licenses. The ministry is working on the issue in cooperation with the Interior Ministry and hopes to establish soon whether similar unlawful institutions are operating in other parts of the country as well, the head of the ministry's supervision department Kadri Peterson said. She added that the ministry has got in touch with Russian universities and the Russian Education Ministry, asking for their help to close the unlawful institutions. Advertisements posted in the Ida-Virumaa region invite graduates to enroll in local branches of the Yaroslavl State Teacher Training College and the Moscow State Industrial University, promising that their diplomas of higher education will be accredited in Estonia as well.

BEARS, BEWARE: In the hunting season to begin next week in Estonia, licenses will be issued to blast away up to 30 bears - nearly 5 percent of the country's total bear population. Hunting specialist Kaarel Roht said most of the bears would be hunted in the counties of Virumaa, Jogevamaa and Jarvamaa, where their numbers are the highest. Roht said that most animals killed by hunters are young and weigh slightly under 200 kilograms. Older and larger animals have become more cautious over the years and are extremely difficult to catch. "Every year, hunters manage to kill only a couple of animals weighing 300 kilograms or more, and usually these bears are shot by chance," Roht said. Depending on the size and age of the animal, a bear hunting license costs from 5,000 kroons ($280) to 30,000 kroons. Bear hunting licenses are issued by local hunting tenants, each of whom has been allocated a quota in accordance with the number of bears. A hunter caught shooting a bear without a license will have to pay a fine of at least 15,000 kroons. The hunting season lasts until Oct. 31.

SHARED EXPERIENCE: Under an agreement signed on Aug. 1 at the British Embassy in Vilnius, Britain will help the Lithuanian authorities establish a European Information Center in Visaginas, a base town for the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant's personnel in northeastern Lithuania. British Ambassador to Lithuania Christopher Robbins, chief Lithuanian EU negotiator Petras Austrevicius and Visaginas Mayor Vytautas Rackauskas all signed the agreement. The embassy will allocate GBP 7,000 ($10,000) for the establishment of the center, and will publish several information bulletins about the EU in the Russian language. Out of some 33,000 mainly Russian-speaking residents of the town, some 5,000 work at the plant, which is to be closed down on the command of the European Commission. "Visaginas is a very important town in Lithuania, which should receive special attention. Great Britain has closed down several nuclear power plants and we are perfectly aware of the social consequences of the closure," the ambassador said.

SMOKING SWING: Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas has agreed to pay the damages his separated wife caused to her neighbor by unintentionally burning part of his house down in Vilnius. The couple have been living separately for many years. On July 8, the head of state's wife, Julija Brazauskiene, was sitting and smoking on a swing beside the wall of her neighbor's house. It is believed that the woman did not extinguish the cigarette fully and wind may have blown the ashes to the bower and the swings, which set the wall of the neighbor's house on fire. Later the flames spread to the roof. The preliminary estimate of the damage was 15,000 litas ($3,750) to 16,000 litas. However, the repairs to the house proved the damages may be twice as large. Having heard about the accident, the prime minister called on the neighbor. It was agreed that Brazauskas would hire a construction company and cover the expenses of the repairs.

BEER AND GARBAGE: During the one-week long Sea Festival in Klaipeda, western Lithuania, two local records were set - for the amount of beer drunk and the amount of rubbish collected. About 800 cubic meters of rubbish were collected at the sites of the Sea Festival events, while usually 1,000 cubic meters are collected in the entire city area, the daily Klaipeda reported. About 100 people were involved in a clean-up operation that took place every morning during the festival. The participants of the festival drank about 250,000 liters of the draught beer Ekstra made by the brewer Svyturys, which surpasses last year's drinking record by 2.5 times. No serious crimes were committed during the week, but many people had their pockets picked and found themselves in scuffles with intoxicated youths. Several suffered knife injuries.

TEEN HATE: A Brooklyn teenager who immigrated from Latvia four years ago was arrested in New York July 19 and charged with painting swastikas and hate-filled Nazi graffiti in a Jewish neighborhood. Maxim Tcherkassov, 16, who lives on Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst, and two friends spray-painted SS insignia, anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas on a synagogue and several homes in Midwood early on July 16. Residents of the neighborhood were horrified, but were pleased at the quick police work that led to the arrest. Tcherkassov told police he acted "because he was bored."