News
Picture Album


December 12, 2001

Sveiki, all!

We're sorry to report this is our third attempt to send the mail out today... failed once with Eudora, failed with Netscape, and now trying with an upgraded version of Eudora. We've been stymied, as tech support can't seem to find any problems at the other end. We're still trying, though!

In the news these past couple of weeks...

With all that saber-rattling going on about NATO again, one has to wonder if Duma elections are coming up again!

No links this issue as we try and catch up However, we did manage to slip in a picture. Sometimes the classics -- like the Riga skyline from across the Daugava -- are still the best! We found this picture on one of our APS snapshot "mystery" rolls, turns out it was from our vacation this summer!

As always, AOL'ers, Remember, mailer or not, Lat Chat spontaneously appears every Sunday on AOL starting around 9:00/9:30pm Eastern time, lasting until 11:00/11:30pm. AOL'ers can follow this link: »Town Square - Latvian chat. And thanks to you participating on the Latvian message board as well: »LATVIA (both on AOL only). We admit to showing up about 10:00 after X-Files!

Ar visu labu -- Good fortune in all things,

Silvija Peters


  News


Latvia says covers three more EU accession areas
Reuters World Report Wednesday, 2001. November 28. 8:23:00
Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd.

    RIGA, Nov 28 (Reuters) -- Latvia said on Wednesday it had closed three sensitive chapters in talks on joining the European Union (EU) -- including environment -- keeping on track to complete negotiations next year.
    Latvia's chief EU negotiator Andris Kesteris said besides environment the country also closed the negotiating chapters on financial control and competition.
    The closure of these three negotiating areas brings the number of provisionally closed chapters by the Baltic EU aspirant to 21, out of a total of 31.
    "We are proceeding in good pace and in line with our schedule, with closing these sensitive chapters a real success," Kesteris told Reuters.
    He said Latvia had secured eight transition periods in the area of environment, including a gradual improvement in water standards by 2015.
    Kesteris said Latvia expects talks on at least three more chapters started by the end of 2001 and some possibly closed, among them areas like energy sector, transport, justice and home affairs.
    Latvia started EU accession talks in 2000 and hopes to complete them at the end of next year to get full membership in 2004 -- a possibility the EU has recently held out for 10 candidate countries.

Riga City Council deploys SCREAM to connect schools to Internet
COMTEX Newswire Thursday, 2001. November 29. 10:56:00
(C)1994-2001 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

    Nov 29, 2001 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- Riga City Council, primary network provider for the Latvian capital has purchased the net.com Service Creation Manager SCREAM to connect Riga's 165 schools in six districts to the internet. The network will also be used by more than 150 other institutions in Riga, including administration, finance and geographic information services, to facilitate videoconferencing and other multimedia applications, and will additionally manage the bandwidth required for video traffic monitoring.
    SCREAM is a universal broadband services switch, providing cell and packet transfer, high touch IP services, ATM switching and open service creation.
    Riga will initially use the five nodes for their ATM capabilities to provide traffic shaping and management with QoS (quality of service), with plans to expand to SCREAM's full service creation capabilities as the network expands.
    Mr Raimonds Kruminsh, director of Finance of the Riga City Council, appeared recently on the State TV of Latvia to announce, "We are very proud of this expansion, which allows us to provide more advanced services while more efficiently managing the bandwidth required for dynamic connections and management of the network for our schools, libraries, hospitals, police stations and other institutions. It is a very progressive solution that will further provide us with the capability of direct accounting for each institution with SCREAM's ability to easily integrate with our internal billing systems. SCREAM is the cornerstone of this fixed and wireless network."
    Dan Communications have been working with Riga City Council as consultants and systems integrators on their network for over two years, so they understand both the challenges and needs of this complex service. Dan Communications' General Manager, Victor Belov, is available for interview to discuss the installation and the benefits of SCREAM to Riga City Council.

NATO chief stops in the Baltics amid increasing optimism
AP WorldStream Thursday, 2001. November 29. 11:48:00
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press
By MICHAEL TARM
Associated Press Writer

    TALLINN, Estonia (AP) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said Thursday that Estonia was an "excellent candidate" for membership in the alliance and Baltic officials had good reason to be optimistic but needed to "stay focused."
    Officials in this former Soviet Baltic republic, whose membership bid has been seen as potentially contentious because of Russian opposition, have been increasingly hopeful that they'll be invited to join during next year's NATO summit in Prague, the Czech capital.
    After meeting with Estonia's president, prime minister and defense officials, Lord Robertson said the country was "an excellent candidate" but added that it needed to "stay focused" on fulfilling military requirements.
    "It's always good to be optimistic," he said. "But there will be no decision until the summit itself."
    Robertson, who was in Moscow last week, said he also detected a change in attitude in Russia.
    "Russia is still unenthusiastic about NATO enlargement. But I think President (Vladimir) Putin recognizes that NATO will not be stopped from the enlargement process," Robertson said. "Russia is interested in a more practical relationship with NATO rather than being fixated with something they can't have influence over."
    Estonian leaders were encouraged by a 372-46 vote in the U.S. Congress earlier this month to grant dlrs 55 million in security assistance to NATO candidates, including Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania.
    "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you don't give money to countries that you don't want in NATO," Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Ilves said.
    Fears here following Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States that closer NATO-Russian cooperation to fight terrorism could give Moscow an effective veto over Baltic membership also have calmed.
    The head of the Latvian parliament's foreign affairs committee, Guntars Krasts, said Russian willingness to work with NATO "signaled to us that Russia has accepted the Baltic countries' membership in NATO as inevitable."
    Nicholas Redman, a leading defense analyst in England, agreed.
    He said there was still strong opposition in Russia's parliament, the military and among average Russians who would see Baltic entry as a security threat, but Putin appears to have softened his stance.
    "This doesn't mean he agrees with it," said Redman. "It's simply that he's a pragmatist and recognizes the U.S. is determined on this and there's no point in deluding himself or Russia's public that Baltic membership can be prevented."

Riga girl charged with hooliganism
COMTEX Newswire Friday, 2001. November 30. 5:04:00
(c) 1996-2001 ITAR-TASS

    RIGA, Nov 30, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- A girl who swished a bunch of flowers trying to strike Prince Charles in the face when he was on a visit in Latvia has been charged with hooliganism, representatives of the Latvian prosecutors stated.
    If the guilt of 16-year old Alina Lebedeva is proved, she will face two years of deprivation of freedom and a fine or forced public labour, the press secretary of the Latvian office of prosecutor-general said. The beginning of the trial is not yet scheduled as the prosecution has not completed the investigation.
    The defendant, a pupil of a Riga school, tried to strike Prince Charles with a bunch of flowers in the face when he was in Latvia in early November. She explained her behaviour by discontent over the British policy regarding Afghanistan. Immediately after the incident, Latvian President Vaira Vike- Freiberga made apologies to the British guest.
    The police had earlier stated that the defendant was faced with 15 years of imprisonment, but Prince Charles appealed for clemency for the girl.

Latvian president speaks Russian
COMTEX Newswire Friday, 2001. November 30. 5:29:00
By Galina Kuchina
(c) 1996-2001 ITAR-TASS

    RIGA, Nov 30, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- Latvian President Vaira Vike- Freiberga who stated the wish to learn to speak Russian proved to be as good as her word. She started speaking Russian this week to greet the society of guarantors of Riga's Russian Drama Theatre company. She quoted words from Pushkin's novel in verse "Eugene Onegin" in her speech.
    Vike-Freiberga said it was very interesting and a great pleasure to her to read "Eugene Onegin". Incidentally, a volume of verse by the great Russian poet was presented to her by first deputy director-general of Itar-Tass Mikhail Gusman when he visited Riga last summer during the shooting of "Formula of Power" TV programme.
    Latvian Vaira Vike-Freiberga who comes from Canada speaks five languages. She began learning the Russian language immediately upon assuming the post of Latvian president. She started with children's books in Russian and now graduated to Pushkin. At the celebration of the centenary of the guarantors society in the theatre, Vike-Freiberga's Russian language teacher sitting next to her interpreted to her just extracts from the speeches delivered in Russian as the president understood most of what was being said.

Latvian central bank chief Repse resigns
Reuters World Report Friday, 2001. November 30. 5:49:00
Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd.

    RIGA, Nov 27 (Reuters) -- Latvian central bank head Einars Repse resigned as expected on Friday to pursue a career in politics and said he would leave the post later in the day.
    "Today is my last working day as I am leaving for a vacation tomorrow. My deputy Ilmars Rimsevics is staying in my place," Repse told journalists after giving his resignation to paliament.
    He added that he would like his permanent replacement to be picked from the central bank's council.
    "That would be the right thing to do as we need no revolutionary change in the central bank, but rather we need to secure the stable, professional and independent work of the central bank," Repse said.
    Repse -- known as the father of the country's lat currency -- was elected for a second six-year term in 1997.
    During his first term Repse implemented monetary reform that swept the rouble out of circulation following Latvia's return to independence with the end of Soviet occupation in 1991.

Latvia remembers Holocaust killings 60 years ago
Reuters World Report Friday, 2001. November 30. 13:09:00
Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd.
By Anastasia Styopina

    RIGA, Nov 30 (Reuters) -- Latvia on Friday marked the 60th anniversary of mass killings of thousands of Latvian Jews and opened a memorial to Nazi victims deported from elsewhere in Europe to be murdered in camps in the Baltic country.
    "Sixty years ago on this day, my mother and sister were killed at Rumbula," said 80-year-old Holocaust survivor Gregory Arenburg, who came to lay flowers at the memorial.
    On November 30 and in early December 1941, around 26,500 Latvian Jews were massacred in the Rumbula forest on the outskirts of the Latvian capital Riga.
    Only about 1,500 Latvian Jews out of 75,000 survived after Nazi Germany invaded the country in 1941, driving the Soviets out a year after the start of their bloody occupation.
    The majority of Riga ghetto residents were annihilated at the Rumbula forest to make room for thousands of Jews from Germany, Austria and what was then Czechoslovakia.
    They travelled across Europe to die from cold, exhaustion and malnutrition or to be shot at Riga's Bikirnieki forest.
    More than 25,000 Jews from what was then the German Reich were deported to Latvia and killed at Bikirnieki.
    Latvian Holocaust survivors came to the Bikirnieki memorial to pay tribute to the victims of Nazi terror.
    "I am happy that there is a monument for those people who were killed here and that we together can remember them," said 79-year-old Riva Scheffer, who narrowly escaped being murdered at Rumbula in December 1941.
    Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga urged her country to study and understand the events of the Holocaust -- a subject that was not discussed during the 50-year Soviet occupation that followed the collapse of Nazi rule.
    Vike-Freiberga, who was a child during the German occupation, recalled her memories of the atrocities carried out by Nazis and their local collaborators.
    "We could smell the smoke coming from Rumbula, where corpses were being dug up and burnt to erase the evidence," she said.
    In the past, Nazi hunters have accused Latvia of dragging its feet in pursuing local people who collaborated with the Nazis and later fled to the West, but Vike-Freiberga said her country stands ready to prosecute them.

Russian military leader warns about admitting Baltics to NATO
AP WorldStream Monday, 2001. December 3. 10:20:00
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press
By MARA BELLABY
Associated Press Writer

    MOSCOW (AP) -- The commander of Russia's Baltic Fleet warned Monday that despite Russia's improved relations with NATO, admitting the former Soviet republics in the Baltics to the military alliance would still be perceived as a significant threat by Moscow.
    "The current military and political situation in the area of the Baltic Fleet is stable and calm," said Vice Adm. Vladimir Valuyev, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
    "It's worsening is possible, though, if the Baltic countries are admitted to NATO, conduct anti-Russian policies, put forward tougher territorial claims against Russia and press for the demilitarization of the Kaliningrad region."
    Russia and the 19-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization have been edging closer to a new partnership since Moscow gave its strong backing to the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
    The former Cold War foes have discussed ways that Russia and NATO could cooperate as equals, though neither side has discussed the possibility of Russia joining NATO.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin met NATO Secretary-general Lord Robertson in Moscow last month, and said that the threat of terrorism demands an end to the days when the two sides regarded one another primarily with suspicion.
    But officials on both sides admit that stumbling blocks remain, including NATO's continued eastward push.
    In Brussels in October, Putin told Robertson that Russia's relationship with NATO should not be overshadowed by the issue of expansion -- one of many signals that he believes Russia has more to gain by cooperation with the West than by confrontation.
    But the Russian military remains deeply suspicious of NATO's movement into areas formerly dominated by the Soviet Union.
    "With Poland's admission to NATO, the alliance's armed forces have received a chance to promptly build up a powerful group on the border of the Kaliningrad region," Valuyev said, according to ITAR-Tass.
    He warned that if NATO moved further to embrace the Baltic countries, the balance of power could dangerously shift in the region.
    NATO is expected soon to offer admission to the former Soviet republics in the Baltic region -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They would join Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary -- Russia's former Warsaw Pact allies -- which were admitted two years ago.

UN: New Permanent Representative of Latvia presents credentials
COMTEX Newswire Thursday, 2001. December 6. 4:32:00
(C)1994-2001 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

    Dec 06, 2001 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- (Based on information received from the Protocol and Liaison Service.)
    Gints Jegermanis, the new Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations, presented his credentials today to the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
    Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Jegermanis served from 1998 to 2001 as his country's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Estonia. He joined his country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1994 as the Counsellor for the Division of Planning. He held that post until 1995 when he became Counsellor at the Latvian Embassy in the Russian Federation, a position he held through 1998.
    From 1987 to 1990, Mr. Jegermanis served as senior technician and junior science associate at the Latvian Science Academy's Institute of Language and Literature. At the newspaper Diena, from 1990 to 1994, he held several posts, including chief of the analyst division and vice editor in chief.
    Mr. Jegermanis received his degree from the University of Latvia and studied at the International Relations Institute of Geneva from 1990 to 1994.
    Born on 5 April 1964 in Latvia, Mr. Jegermanis is married and has two children.
    M2 Communications Ltd disclaims all liability for information provided within M2 PressWIRE. Data supplied by named party/parties. Further information on M2 PressWIRE can be obtained at http://www.presswire.net on the world wide web. Inquiries to infom2.com.

INTERVIEW-Latvia seeks simultaneous Baltic EU vote
Reuters World Report Friday, 2001. December 7. 12:14:00
Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd.
By Burton Frierson

    RIGA, Dec 7 (Reuters) -- Latvia proposed on Friday that all three Baltic countries should hold national votes on European Union membership on the same day.
    Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins told Reuters in an interview that, when the time comes to decide, this would minimise the chances of one country's vote influencing the outcome of a referendum of its neighbour.
    Difficult reforms have made it hard to keep public support for EU membership safely above 50 percent in the three states -- Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
    "With your voting you do something not just for you or your people or for the citizens of Latvia but you are a part of something which is much bigger," he said.
    "Your responsibility is not just here in Latvia first of all, but second is your responsibility towards your neighbours, towards the region. They (the results) will influence the whole thing."
    Latvia and its Baltic neighbours have been striving for EU membership since breaking free from half a century of Soviet occupation in 1991.
    Now they are on track to complete accession negotiations next year, meaning they could join around 2004 -- if the move is approved in national referendums expected in 2003.
    Along with NATO membership -- a goal of all three countries -- many here see the EU as a way to cement ties to the West.
    But polls show that, just 10 years after leaving the Soviet Union, many people in the Baltics are reluctant to give up sovereignty to another, although different, union.
    Berzins said his country is up to tough tasks such as reforming the country's administrative and judicial systems -- among areas where the EU says improvement must be made to guarantee Latvia will be able to translate EU law into reality.
    "Corruption is the third point (to work on)," Berzins said.
    However, he said he was worried his country and other EU candidates would not be given sufficient voice in an upcoming debate on the future shape of the bloc.
    The EU will hold a summit in Laeken, Belgium, next week that will set up a year-long advisory convention on reform of the EU. The candidates are likely to get only observer status.
    "We hope that everyone will be equal in the convention...and if voting takes place we will have a chance to vote," Berzins said.

Baltic countries ban import of Finnish beef
COMTEX Newswire Monday, 2001. December 10. 4:19:00
(C)1998-2001 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

    Dec 10, 2001 (NORDIC BUSINESS REPORT via COMTEX) -- Estonian authorities have imposed a five-year ban on imports of live cattle and beef from Finland after the first case of mad cow disease (BSE) was found in the country last week.
    As part of the ban, which is said to be required by Estonian law, all licences issued to import Finnish cattle and beef have been annulled.
    Latvia and Lithuania have also introduced a temporary ban on beef and live cattle imports from Finland, reports Reuters.

Latvian police hold Russian in synagogue blast
Reuters World Report Tuesday, 2001. December 11. 6:17:00
Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd.

    RIGA, Dec 11 (Reuters) -- Latvian police said on Tuesday they had detained a Russian -- a former member of an elite Soviet paramilitary force -- in connection with the 1998 bombing of a Riga synagogue.
    The 1998 bombing was at the height of a row between Latvia and Russia. It caused no deaths or injuries but was condemned by the United States and Jewish groups and Latvian leaders.
    It was considered a blemish on Latvia's image when the Baltic country was seeking, as now, to join the European Union and NATO.
    Police said the detained man was a resident of the Russian city St Petersburg and had served in the Soviet Union's OMON paramilitary group.
    "We found out that this person is in Latvia and we detained him. He is a former OMON fighter," Didzis Smitins, deputy head of the Latvian security police, told Reuters.
    Police identified the detainee only as "Dmitry" and said they picked him up during a visit to Latvia. Smitins said the suspect, who has not been charged, was born in 1971 and used to live in Latvia.
    The OMON was a special unit of the Soviet interior ministry. It was used against independence movements that sprang up in Latvia and the other Baltic states in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
    Latvia regained independence in 1991 after a 50-year Soviet occupation but its post-Soviet relations with Russia were marked by tension, which surged in 1998 when Moscow accused it of descriminating against its Russian-speaking minority.
    The synagogue blast followed a controversial reunion of Latvian veterans who fought for the Germans in World War Two and a demonstration by mainly Russian-speaking pensioners in Riga during which Latvian police were accused of using excessive force.

World ballet stars to commemorate Maris Liepa at Bolshoi
COMTEX Newswire Tuesday, 2001. December 11. 7:47:00
By Yelena Dorofeyeva
(c) 1996-2001 ITAR-TASS

    MOSCOW, Dec 11, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- World ballet stars from Russia, France and Italy will take part in a Bolshoi concert Tuesday to commemorate the legendary dancer Maris Liepa who would have turned 65 on this day.
    Liepa, who was born in Latvia, came to Moscow soon after graduation from a choreography school in Riga. From the early 1960's through to the mid-1980's, he performed a host of illustrious ballet parts at the Bolshoi. He was best known in the West as the Roman military commander Crassus in Khachaturyan's Spartacus, a landmark in the 20th century choreography of masculine parts.
    The Tuesday concert is a brain-child of Maris's son Andris, himself a ballet celebrity. He invited such well-acclaimed perfomers as Benjamin Peche from the Grande Opera in Paris who will perform a fragment from Dvorak's Spring and Autumn.
    Carla Fracci from the opera of Rome, a legend of the ballet world who danced together with Liepa, is one of the invitee performers.
    Separate parts will be performed by soloists of the Mariinski Theater in St. Petersburg where Andris Liepa has been starring for the past several years. The Bolshoi stars Nikolai Tsiskaridzre and Ilze Liepa, Maris Liepa's daughter, will dance in a fragment from the Sheherazade, a sample of liberty art choreography that Andris Liepa brought back to life recently.
    At the culmination point of the concert, the dancers will perform a renovated version of the Triadic Ballet, first staged in 1922 by Oskar Schlemmer, a German pioneer of abstractionist dance.

Russia likely to react if Baltic countries enter NATO
COMTEX Newswire Tuesday, 2001. December 11. 8:19:00
By Andrei Kirillov, Diana Rudakova, Vladimir Fedoruk
(c) 1996-2001 ITAR-TASS

    BEIJING, Dec 11, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- Russia may react, and not at all by force, if Baltic countries enter NATO, Speaker of the State Duma lower house of Russian parliament Gennady Seleznyov said in Beijing on Tuesday.
    The positions of the State Duma and the Russian president on the matter do not differ, the speaker said. Neither the Russian MPs nor President Putin see the reason why NATO should spread further eastward, he said.
    "I don't see what kind of protection and against whom Baltic countries wish to ensure seeking the speedy entry into NATO," Seleznyov said. As regards Estonia and Latvia, he said these countries "are not mature enough" to enter NATO and the Council of Europe. Seleznyov suggested that the West should "bring pressure on them so they should not infringe the rights of ethnic Russians and should not treat Russians as 'second rate citizens'".
    "We cannot prohibit Baltic countries to enter whatever organisation they wish to enter," Seleznyov said. "But in this case Russia may react, and not at all by force". He said this reaction may affect commercial, economic, cultural and other ties of Russia with Baltic countries.

US Renews NATO Expansion Pledge to Balts
Reuters Online Service Tuesday, 2001. December 11. 13:28:00
Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd.

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The United States, after talks with the three Baltic countries, renewed on Tuesday a pledge to leave open the door to NATO membership.
    The United States also thanked Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for financial and security steps adopted to support the U.S. "war on terrorism", the State Department said in a statement on the two days of meetings.
    The foreign ministers of the three countries -- Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, Indulis Berzins of Latvia and Antanas Valionis of Lithuania -- had meetings with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in Washington in the fourth annual meeting of the Baltic Partnership Commission.
    "The Deputy Secretary reaffirmed our commitment to President Bush's vision of a new round of enlargement at the 2002 Prague NATO summit," the statement said.
    In Warsaw in June, President Bush said he believed in NATO membership for all European democracies that are willing to share the responsibilities.
    The Baltic states are especially keen to join the alliance, mainly as an affirmation of their independence from Russia.

  Picture Album

A classic Riga scene from this summer just past.

Riga skyline from across the Daugava

»Back to Mailer Index»
»Back to Previous Page»
»Home | »Site Map