• 2002-11-07
Nuclear cleanup tender

Latvia's Environment Ministry has announced a tender for decommissioning an experimental nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel and waste storage site in Salaspils, some 20 kilometers from Riga.

The reactor, built in 1961 to conduct neutron research, remained in operation until 1998. A ministry spokeswoman said the country plans to decommission fully the reactor by 2008.

The winner will have to ensure safe transport of more than 1,000 cubic meters of nuclear material out of Latvia, she said.

Bids will be accepted through Jan. 21. 2003. A total of 12.8 million lats (21.45 million euros) has already been set aside for decommissioning. (Baltic News Service)

Hardship pay

Three Latvians who were among the more than 800 people taken hostage by Chechen rebels in Moscow last month will each receive 1,900 euros in compensation from the Russian government.

The payment includes a lump sum as well as an additional allowance for lost belongings. Russian special forces confiscated all handbags, articles of clothing and other items left in the theater by hostages.

Families of the more than 100 hostages who did not survive the ordeal will receive about 3,200 euros each in compensation from Russia's federal budget and the Moscow city budget. (BNS)

Savisaar returns

The Tallinn City Council re-elected Center Party leader Edgar Savisaar as mayor Nov. 1 after his party won the largest share of votes in last month's municipal election.

Savisaar, the only candidate for the post, won handily by a 43-13 vote in the 63-member City Council. In previous years, the post of Tallinn mayor has been one of the most fiercely contested, but Savisaar's overwhelming popularity and the Center Party's dominant position on the Council made this year's win a walk. The party holds 43 of the council's 63 seats. (BNS)

Presidential power

Most Estonians favor giving more power to the president, according to a survey conducted by the Emor pollster in October.

More than 60 percent of the respondents said Estonia should have either a presidential form of government in which the president is head of state and government, or a semi-presidential one similar to those in France and Lithuania, where the president and prime minister share power more equally than in a strict parliamentary system. (BNS)

Free and clear

Latvia's State Revenue Service said it had found no conflict of interest in outgoing Prime Minister Andris Berzins' summer yachting trip on a boat owned by a prominent Latvian company.

Berzins spent part of his vacation this year off the coast of Turkey on a yacht owned by plywood company Latvijas Finieris, which received large amounts of tax relief the previous year. Some lawmakers questioned the propriety of the connection and whether Berzins had paid for the use of the yacht.

But the revenue service said it had uncovered no wrongdoing, saying Berzins had paid for the trip. (BNS)

Returning to his roots

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ceslo Lafer, whose family originally comes from a small town in southeastern Lithuania, began a four-day visit to Vilnius Nov. 3, during which he will meet with top Lithuanian officials and make a speech at Vilnius University.

Lafer, the first high-ranking Brazilian official to visit Lithuania since independence in 1991, also plans to visit the Holocaust Memorial in Paneriai, Vilnius' main synagogue and meet members of the local Jewish community. He will also make a day trip to Sirvintos, the small town in the southeast of the country where his Jewish ancestors were born. (BNS)

Crackdown on illegals

Lithuania's Migration Department and state police said they had started exercising stricter control on foreigners who stay in the country illegally.

Police said the number of illegal residents, most of them economic migrants, has grown by four times in the first 10 months of 2002 over the same period last year. So far the Migration Department has ordered the deportation of 239 illegal migrants who stayed in the country after their visas expired.

Leokadija Sokolova, an official at the Migration Department, said the crackdown is related to the hostage-taking incident in Moscow last month. (BNS)

More Grand Army discoveries

Lithuanian and French specialists examining the remains of Napoleon's Grand Army, found in Vilnius, earlier this year said many of the soldiers were suffering from syphilis.

Rimantas Jankauskas, head of the anatomy and anthropology departments of Vilnius University, said syphilis was a common disease in those days. "It is very normal that soldiers were suffering from syphilis; armies used to spread venereal diseases all the time," he said.

Construction workers in the Lithuanian capital stumbled upon hundreds of bones of Napoleon's soldiers earlier this year, the tatters of the French emperor's defeated army as it beat a hasty retreat from Moscow in 1812. (BNS)