- State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Ilze Petersone-Godmane warns about the consequences of lowering benefits for refugees
According to the State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Ilze Petersone-Godmane, as a result of lowering refugee benefits below the minimum of subsistence level there will be a risk that the refugees will concentrate in the big cities and form closed communities. As reported, the governing coalition agreed to lower the benefit for refugees or persons with alternative status from EUR 256 down to EUR 139 per month. Mrs Petersone-Godmane believes that the benefit in the amount of EUR 256 would be sufficient in order to relocate refugees to Latvian regions. Vesti Segodnya
- The ruling coalition decided to lower refugee benefits while municipalities are in charge of providing additional support to refugees
The ruling coalition decided to lower the benefit for refugees or persons with alternative status to EUR 139. At the same time, municipalities are in charge of providing additional support (e.g. accommodation, electricity bills etc.) to those refugees, who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves. The level of support is different in each municipality and it is likely that the refugees will tend to move to Riga, which provides greater support than some other municipalities. It was also proposed to ease the state language proficiency requirements for employment in order to improve access to the labour market. Janis Dombrava (National Union “All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement”) opposes such amendments, arguing that it would contradict the Constitution. Neatkariga
- The ECHR requested the government to provide information regarding facts in application lodged in 2011 by five non-citizens who received lower pensions than citizens in the same circumstances
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) requested Latvian government to provide information regarding the facts in the application lodged in 2011 by five non-citizens of Latvia who received lower pensions than citizens of Latvia in the same circumstances. The application concerns Article 1 of the transitional provisions of the law "On State Pensions", which stipulate that the period of work and obligatory military service accrued in the USSR outside of Latvia up to 31 December 1990 is counted into the length of insurance of citizens, but not of the persons without Latvian citizenship. The applicants already exhausted available national remedies, including application to the Constitutional Court, which on 17 February 2011 ruled that the said provision complies to Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in conjunction with Article 1 of the Protocol No. 1. The applicants also referred to 2009 judgement by the ECHR Grand Chamber, which ruled in a similar case of Andrejeva v. Latvia, that the said provision grants entitlement to pension for employment up to 1991 in the USSR outside of Latvia, and concluded that by refusing this entitlement because Ms. Andrejeva was a non-citizen, Latvia violated Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. Co-chairman of the Latvian Human Rights Committee Vladimirs Buzajevs highlights that the government did not amend national legislation to comply with the ECHR ruling and alleges that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe ignores the problem. Vesti Segodnya
- Latvijas Avize criticises Latvian television for inviting controversial figure Ilarions Girss to take part in a political discussion broadcast
Latvijas Avize criticises Latvian public television’s LTV7 for inviting Ilarions Girss to take part in Russian-language political discussion broadcast. Latvijas Avize questions whether persons who are openly hostile to Latvian state and ethnic Latvians should be given an opportunity to speak at public television as well as reminds its readers that Ilarions Girss is a radical politician, whose name is mentioned in the annual report of the Security Police and that criminal proceedings were opened against Mr.Girss. Moderator of the discussion highlighted that inviting Mr.Girss was appropriate given the topic of the discussion – “The provocateurs and the provoked”. Other representatives of LTV7 argued that it is better to be aware of Mr.Girss’ views rather than to keep it underground and wait for an explosion, as well as highlighted that there were many participants, who represented diverse opinions during the discussion. Communication specialist Anda Rozukalne gave example of BBC, which also invite controversial figures to its broadcasts. Anda Rozukalne also complained that not that many “normal” Latvian Russians are shown in Latvian TV broadcasts.
- Press conference on the residents’ concerns about the plans for accommodation of additional asylum seekers in Mucenieki
- International festival of Byelorussian culture in Daugavpils
Representatives of local government and residents in Mucenieki (small town in central Latvia) held outdoor press conference about the plans for accommodation of additional asylum seekers at the asylum seekers reception centre “Mucenieki”. Representatives of the local government complained that the plan to build multifunctional centre for the residents of Mucinieki was cancelled. The multifunctional centre would provide the services of various specialists, orphans’ court, interest education, as well as provide a space for asylum seekers and local residents to meet. Representative of local NGO stated that the residents begun to worry once they learned that the number of asylum seekers in Mucenieki will be increased from 40 to 200 persons. Latvijas Avize
Vesti Segodnya reports about the International festival of Byelorussian culture which took place in Daugavpils on 16 October 2015. Folklore ensembles from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Byelorussia participated in the festival.