Latvia in brief - 2004-01-22

  • 2004-01-22
Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete, on an official visit to Georgia, offered to lend Latvia's experience in Euro-Atlantic affairs. Kalniete also told reporters that the visit was a gesture of Latvian support for Georgia.

Deputy Prime Minister Ainars Slesers asked Prime Minister Einars Repse to hold another vote on Juta Strike, the head of the Corruption Prevention and Control Bureau. Strike currently holds the position even though her confirmation has failed twice in Parliament, and Repse reportedly responded to Slesers' request by saying that Strike would head the organization as long as he was in power.

The largest market in Bauska burned down Jan. 17 due to a faulty electrical appliance according to its owner Aivars Tiesnesis. The market was set for a renovation before the fire and was partly insured.
A Riga court struck down all the disciplinary actions imposed on Kalvis Vitolins, the former head of the State Revenue Service's central customs department, including two reprimands and a demotion for a three year term. Vitolins declined to comment if he would seek reinstatement in his former job and compensation for the period since he was removed from the office, or some 18,000 lats (27,000 euros).

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright will visit Latvia on Jan. 27 to attend the University of Latvia's 62nd annual Scientific Conference. During the ceremony Albright is expected to receive an honorary doctorate for her work in political science and her contribution to strengthening Latvian independence.

A road accident involving a Lithuanian passenger bus and a car claimed the lives of three Latvian customs officers. The collision occurred in the morning of Jan. 20 in Latvia two kilometers from the Grenctale checkpoint on the Latvian-Lithuanian border. The three passengers in a Volkswagen Golf, all women, died on impact.

U.S. citizen Lindsay Shannon was sentenced by a Riga court to five years in prison for sexually abusing two boys and two teenagers. Shannon, who was sentenced to 33 months for a similar offense in Prague in 1997, complained to the European Court of Human Rights last year. After serving the sentence he will be forced to leave Latvia.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga will travel to Sweden on Jan. 26 to attend the Stockholm International Conference on the Holocaust. Vike-Freiberga last spoke at the conference in 2000, and this year she will reportedly speak on using human values to spread understanding in the world.