Latvija in brief - 2004-02-26

  • 2004-02-26
Responding to questions about the legality of his recent real estate deals, which are currently under investigation by a parliamentary committee, Prime Minister Einars Repse said that asking for an investigation into the possibility that he had violated the law was similar to asking for an inquiry of committee head Eriks Jekabsons for the murder of young girls in Riga. The gaffe caused on outrage, and many said it was further evidence that Repse was "not well."

An inebriated police inspector accidentally shot a friend in the head, killing him in the eastern city of Daugavpils, according to reports. The 34-year-old inspector has been detained while an investigation is being carried out.

Rolf Ekeus, high commissioner for national minorities for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, will make a two-day visit to Latvia. Ekues will meet Education Minister Karlis Sardurskis and President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

An investigation by Latvia's anticorruption bureau ended due to lack of sufficient evidence against Juris Reksna, state secretary of the Interior Ministry, accused of attempting to blackmail Interior Minister Maris Gulbis (see photo), who had reportedly tried to remove Reksna from the ministry. The latter allegedly responded by threatening to release videotapes showing the interior minister making critical comments about leading politicians.

Latvia will receive 78 million euros of EU aid to facilitate the implementation of the Schengen accords. The Baltic state has three years to spend the money on border-checkpoint infrastructure, border guard training and related equipment.

Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete, soon to be EU commissioner, will likely be in charge of a specific area of agriculture within the enlarged European bloc. She will shadow EC Agricultural Minister Joschka Fisher for the first six months of his term.

The congress of the Defen-ders of Russian Language Schools will be held on March 6. The organizers have invited the deputy speaker of the Russian Duma and long-time critic of the Baltic states, Dmitry Rogozin, to attend.

Another physician in Riga was detained on suspicions of illegally distributing psychotropic drugs, including ecstasy and amphetamines. The first two doctors arrested for distribution of these types of illegal drugs were from Riga and Jelgava.

The state police's organized crime prevention administration, with the help of Latvia's antiterrorist unit Omega, held five people in conjunction with the illegal smuggling of 50 tons of diesel fuel into the Baltic state. The men were detained in Riga's Babite area.