News Laimdota Straujuma

The Baltic state of Latvia is poised to get its first female prime minister after the President and leading parliamentary parties agreed on a single candidate.

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Latvia Under-21 0

Latvia will not railroad refugees

Latvia will not railroad refugees

Freedom bell rings as Russians quit Riga

LATVIANS heard the great bell of Riga cathedral toll yesterday morning, calling them to a service of thanksgiving for the departure of the former Soviet army. The pull-out from Latvia and neighbouring Estonia effectively marks the retreat of the Russian empire from the Baltic region, annexed by Stalin in 1940.

No real joy as Russian troops pull out of Latvia

THE LAST regular Russian troops will leave Latvia today but festivities planned to mark their departure have been cancelled as hardline Baltic nationalists believe there is nothing to celebrate.

Daughters of Eve: Finland is the setting for a series of five feminist plays based on stories from the Bible. Michael Arditti reports

Summer in Finland is a season of festivals. After the extended winter (snowfalls in September can last until June), July and August are clearly months to celebrate; but the celebration is more than climatic. During the Cold War years of the 1970s and 1980s, the Finns feared the imperial ambitions of their Soviet neighbours and the festivals were an important means of asserting their identity.

Letter: Who is mistreating whom?

I DISAGREE with Neal Ascherson on his claim that Latvians mistreat the Russian minority ('Hope in a small nation which dares to ask the dangerous questions', 17 July). The Russian minority in question consists of some 40 per cent of Latvia's population. For 50 years the Russians were the complete masters of the country and, with the help of mass terror, imposed their language and culture. During that time many thousands of Latvians were forcibly deported to Siberia in cattle trucks. Most of them perished. When, today, someone proposes a civilised repatriation of these unwanted thousands of Russians back to their homeland, we are suddenly reminded of human rights.

PM resigns

RIGA - Latvia's Prime Minister, Valdis Birkavs, announced his resignation yesterday after his year-old coalition government fell apart. Reuter

In brief

Summer bargains have landed

Latvian rethink on nationality law

Latvia's President, Guntis Ulmanis, yesterday ordered parliament to reconsider a controversial citizenship law that has been widely condemned as discriminatory against Latvia's large ethnic Russian minority, Adrian Bridge reports. Mr Ulmanis said the law would damage Latvia's standing in the eyes of the international community and harm the country's interests.

Letter: Rights of citizens under Latvian law

Sir: While the report 'Latvian Parliament restricts citizenship' and the leading article 'A rash expression of Latvian loathing' (both, 23 June) provide some sense of the critical demographic situation in Latvia that is responsible for the 'backlash' of the citizenship law, several inaccuracies in these articles provide a skewed perception of the effects of the law.

Leading Article: A rash expression of Latvian loathing

THE APPROVAL by the Latvian parliament of a new nationality law discriminating against the Baltic state's large Russian minority is as understandable as it is unwise. According to reports from Riga, only ethnic Russians born in the country will be allowed to become Latvian citizens. For those born elsewhere, however long ago, there will be a quota for citizenship of just a few thousand a year. Only Latvian citizens can vote and buy property.

Latvian offer

Latvia's Foreign Minister, Georgs Andrejevs, who has admitted passing confidential information to the Soviet KGB, offered to resign as minister and parliamentary deputy, Reuter reports from Riga.

Latvia accord

The presidents of Russia and Latvia signed a treaty on Saturday that would remove all 12,000 Russian troops from the Baltic nation by 31 August, AP reports from Moscow. Agreements accompanying the treaty cover social guarantees for more than 22,000 retired Russian servicemen living in Latvia, and Russia's continued use of a radar base in the town of Skrunda.

Russia and Latvia sign pullout pact

MOSCOW - President Boris Yeltsin signed a landmark agreement with Latvia yesterday pledging to withdraw former Soviet troops from the republic by 31 August, writes Helen Womack. While about 10,000 Russians will leave, a few will remain to man the Skrunda radar station for four years.

Yeltsin bases 'decree' stirs hornets' nest in Latvia

RUSSIA denied yesterday that it intended to establish new military bases in Latvia, as tension mounted in the Baltic states, writes Adrian Bridge. Vyacheslav Kostikov, spokesman for President Boris Yeltsin, said the country's inclusion in a list of former Soviet republics where Moscow planned to set up bases was a 'technical error'.
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