Friday, January 11, 2008

"Militia wars"

While the scandal of about Latvian passports being sold to the CIS countries businessmen is quieting down, shootings of prominent businessmen appear on front pages of Latvian newspapers. According to Immigration and Citizenship office from 1999-2005 about 100 Latvian old style passports in blue covers were issued to persons with false identities. The picture appearing below is the new EU format Latvian passport from the Latvian Immigration Office web page. According to PM illegal sale of passports took place not in the Immigration office but there was the theft of ID's in the citizens register office, thus the security of the new Latvian passports should be almost fool proof.

After the public debate in Kas notiek Latvijā? TV show, however, it did not become clear due to who's mistake illegal identity formation took place in the citizen's register. It was first thought that illegal passports were issued in the Immigration department but apparently nobody wants to reveal the real situation, and make full and independent inquiry due to the peculiarity of the police investigation in Latvia. Police investigation methods in this country are secretive and thus do not allow the media to keep the track on investigation. Latvia became member of the Schengen zone and it should be a sign of quality for the system of internal affairs. Luckily such "mishap" with passports was discovered early, but the slowness and obscure mode of investigation does not give one assurances about the Schengen quality mark yet.

While one scandal follow another schootings take place in rich Riga neighborhoods. Early this week co-owner of the Arena Riga Mrs Ella Ivanova (39) was shot in her home yard in Garkalne. This morning similar news came from Garkalne again, because the owner of Cēsis and Jelgava meat processing plants Mr Aigars Lūsis (26) was gunned down in similar manner like Mrs Ivanova. Together with entrepreneur gunned at the end of December in Salaspils and another one in Jēkabpils in November, these shootings have dubbed the return of Ivars Godmanis government as "a comeback of the early 1990's". Heads of Latvian police, Messrs Lieljuksis and Ķuzis have come out with conflicting announcements about this week's shootings. When the former denied the latter approved that the 1990's are back and ownership of properties are contested again.

In the meantime the Latvian Statistics Office revealed that last year Latvian upper class spent Ls 59mlj. (circa EUR85mlj.) on posh cars.

In the country with Ls 5,377 billion annual budget (2007) it makes around 1% of annual revenues. It is a free market economy and Bentley "shoppe" was just opened in Riga. In the meantime trade unions are feeling uneasy after meeting the PM because PM warned that trade unions should not expect wage increase. Also the Minister of Finance, Mr Artis Slakteris warned about bad news on horizon yesterday: "Latvian economy should prepare for worst times". For the sake of both Ministers' announcement looked into the basic macroeconomic data.

The consolidated debt of Latvia today is about 17 395 500 000 and its about 200% of its GDP which according to the Bank of Latvia data is circa 8 693 791 000 (1 quarter=2060107000, 2nd quarter=2179942000, 3d quarter=2226871000 and 4th quarter data is still not ready). Numbers are here and shall analyze them in detail during this weekend.

In the meantime ownership rights are contested on streets and yards in Riga suburbia. Prior his election the incumbent president Zatlers said that he likes the Russian TV series "Militia Wars". Police must investigate who is behind the shootings of the two entrepreneurs, but the milieu of the 1990's thus vividly exemplified in the Russian TV series is now in Latvian suburbia.

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