It is hard for me to tell all recent stories from Riga as I spend January outside of Latvia for studying purposes. However, I compiled the most interesting news, that happened in last several weeks, in this article.
Bail-out approval from International Monetary Fund
On December 24 IMF agreed on the planned help to Latvia to overcome economical crisis that arrived by December, although majority of economists are worried about the future government steps. Prime minister Ivars Godmanis decided to keep the currency rate to Euro and cut the employees’ wages. More on the topic here at BBC.
Prime Minister Godmanis offered resignation as well, “if it helps the country”. Nothing happened yet, we will see – some political commentators already started their analysis. In Lithuania demonstrants decided to use eggs 🙂
Riots and demonstrations
Cutting wages in a very unpopular way how to manage problems. Majority of local citizens decided to repeat this information during a demonstration in Riga with about 10 000 people gathered at the Dome Square. Unfortunately this escaled into riots and fight with police, leaving about 40 injured. (BBC story here)
Further actions were cancelled, president Valdis Zatlers warned the Parliament and asked for earlier popular elections and two more constitutional changes. Parliament now has time until March 31. (full article here)
Language and nationalism quarrels
In these unstable times another question remained unanswered – the position of minorities in the country, especially the Russian speaking. According to surveys, about 400 000 people living in Latvia are called “non-residents”, they do not hold Latvian passport as exam from Latvian language is compulsory step towards obtaining it. More tension appears as Latvian nationalists in the Parliament turned down the notion that would enable non-residents take part in municipal elections. (article 1, article 2, article 3)
Minister of Culture Helena Demakova resigns due to health problems. Maybe the inability to respond to a argue over a commemoration plaque of Mussolini and Veiss could be reasons to speed up the decision.
Solutions for economical problems? Let somebody buy us!
Several attempts were made to offer Latvia for sale in internet auction servers as eBay or by online petitions. One of the groups appealed Russian multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich, some others asked the country of Sweden.