State officials losing patience with school protests

  • 2004-04-15
RIGA – Top government officials expressed exasperation with schoolchildren's last protest against education reform, with Prime Minister Indulis Emsis asking law enforcement agencies to investigate whether the protests, which have become a regular feature in recent months, were organized by interest hostile to Latvia.

The prime minister has asked law enforcement agencies to "thoroughly look in to information submitted by school kids and their parents, as, possibly, separate groups unfriendly to Latvia are trying to direct the protest action to a violent channel," the Baltic News Service reported.
Emsis stressed that he would not be swayed by the schoolchildren's "unsanctioned protest events, aimed against securing a quality educational system and the integration of the Latvian society."
Janis Reiniks, chief of the security police, said that he believes that the Headquarters for the Protection of Russian School, widely known as Shtab, was no longer in control of the situation. He said a number of violations were registered at Thursday's protests and that he did not rule out a criminal case being opened.
Speaking in Beijing, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said that the protests were "instigated by Moscow politicians, and it could be regarded as interfering with our internal matters."
The president was in China on an official five-day visit.
Reiniks that the unsanctioned meeting at Esplanade Park and two protests at the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Education and Science was joined by schoolchildren from some 20 Riga schools, as well as parents and teachers. Some 5,000 people took part in the protest, the security chief said.