Latvia Weekly Podcast #36: Levits Inaugurated, Broka in Custody, and News from July 3rd -10th, 2019

President Egils Levits
Photo Credit: Ieva Ābele, Saeima

After more than a month as "president-elect," Mr. Egils Levits was finally handed the keys to Rīga castle by outgoing President Raimonds Vējonis. On the other side of town, former Nacionālā apvienība mayoral candidate Baiba Broka spent time in very different accommodation — a jail cell in Čiekurkalns after being detained by KNAB agents over bribery allegations. Join Olevs and Joe as they break down these developments and others including major passenger rail contracts, new initiative proposals by the Kariņš government, sexist sports posters, and much more!



Stories discussed this week include:
  • Egils Levits is sworn in as Latvia's 9th democratically elected president and makes his first foreign trip to Estonia as according to tradition
    Source: Times of Israel
  • Rīga City Council member Baiba Broka (Nacionālā apvienība) is detained by anti-corruption agents along with two businessmen accused of giving 60,000 in bribes over three years under the guise of "donations" to the Latvian Biathalon Association she heads
    Source: LETA

  • The Ministry of Health proposes sweeping new regulations on alcohol including a potential complete ban on advertising and banning the sale of alcohol at petrol stations
    Source: LSM
  • Saeima votes to cut the excise tax on alcohol in response to similar measures by Estonia that were designed to keep Estonians from driving across the border for cheaper alcohol
    Source: Delfi
  • Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš proposed a consolidation of Latvia's hospitals similar to the ongoing reduction of schools taking place throughout the country
    Source: LSM
  • Opposition party Latvijas attistībai nominates councillor Viesturs Zeps for mayor, the first official challenge to Acting Mayor Olegs Burovs' candidacy
    Source: LSM
  • Major contracts were signed in the Rail Baltica project to bring high speed European-gauge rail to the Baltic states and connect them with western Europe's system
    Source: LSM
  • After an appeals process, Pasažieru vilciens will be able to sign a contract with Czech firm Škoda Vagonka to procure 32 electric trains, the first of which is planned to be delivered at the end of 2020
    Source: LSM
  • Former Saeima candidate for Saeima Ziedonis Apariņš is detained as part of a scheme to smuggle more than 15 tonnes of contraband vodka into Latvia
    Source: LSM
  • The Ministry of Justice proposes increasing public funding for political campaigns to bring funding levels in line with the rest of the Baltic states
    Source: LSM
  • Financial regulator FKTK Chairman Peters Putniņš and deputy Gunta Razāne agree to leave their positions with a "golden handshake" package including 80% of their yearly salaries after pressure from coalition parties
    Source: LSM
  • A majority of Latvia's green energy producers are at risk of losing state aid over not passing "examinations" set by the Ministry of Economics, with the exact amount to be announced in the coming weeks
    Source: LSM
  • The "Ghetto Games" sporting event was harshly criticized throughout the week for a series of allegedly sexist and demeaning posters that were taken down after a brief conflict with the "Marta" Center for women who suffer domestic abuse
    Source: LSM
  • The government announces support for farms ravaged by a series of rare whirlwinds that tore across the Latvian countryside
    Source: LSM
  • 2,000 take part in Canada's Latvian Song and Dance Festival, including Former Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs
    Source: LSM

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