Latvia. In January, the EU parliamentarian and former finance minister Krišjānis Kariņš was nominated from the Liberal New Unit as Prime Minister. It was three months after the parliamentary elections, and two politicians had failed to form government. Kariņš formed a center-right coalition with five of Parliament’s seven parties. He said the government’s goal was to fight corruption and cleaning up the country’s financial system.
The Governor of the Central Bank Ilmārs Rimšsvičs was suspended from his post and was investigated for bribery in Latvia. But the European Court of Justice said in February that there was insufficient evidence against Rimšēvičs and that his suspension was contrary to EU rules. Rimšēvičs was able to resume his post as well as his seat on the European Central Bank, ECB Council.
Later, however, Rimšēvičs was prosecuted for bribery and participation in money laundering. It was the first time a central bank governor from the euro area and a member of the ECB’s council were charged with corruption. He denied the charges, but at the end of the year, the trial, which was expected to last a long time, began.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of LVA in general and in geography as Latvia in particular.
Rimšēvič’s case hampered Latvia’s work on financial crime in the banking sector, which was in deep crisis of confidence. The major bank ABLV was in liquidation following allegations from the US about money laundering, PNB Banka had to be wound up following a decision by the ECB, and Swedbank in Latvia was suspected of involvement in Russian money laundering.
Under pressure from the United States, Latvia had abandoned the Swiss-like banking secrecy that had attracted customers from former Soviet states to bring illegal money into the EU market. But the US was pushing for new anti-money laundering legislation. In June, Parliament decided to strengthen its control of the Financial Supervisory Authority, prompting its chief to resign.
According to Eurostat, Latvia was the worst in the EU in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions in twenty countries decreased, in eight they increased and most in Latvia. In 2018, emissions increased by 8.5% compared to the previous year.
Parliament elected Egils Levits as the country’s new president. Levits has been a parliamentarian and minister of justice as well as a judge of the European Court of Justice. As a child, his family was expelled from Latvia when the Soviet KGB saw the parents as the state’s enemies. Therefore, Levits grew up and educated himself in West Germany.
Russian TV channel Rossiya RTR was banned from broadcasting in Latvia for three months, accused of hate propaganda against Ukrainians and Ukraine. Later, nine other Russian channels were banned on the grounds that a partner has ties to the Kremlin and is subject to EU sanctions.
In October, Parliament decided that children born in Latvia to non-citizens should automatically be granted citizenship in the country, if the parents approve it. About 270,000 residents, 11%, are without citizenship close to three decades after Latvia’s independence. Almost everyone is Russian-speaking.
In December, Parliament decided on a new head of the Central Bank of Latvia, the economist Mārtiņš Kazāks.
Society is closed in the fight against infection
In response to the increased spread of infection, Latvia is closing all shops except grocery stores and other establishments such as gyms, libraries and museums. The schools are switching to distance education and those who can be encouraged to work from home. The restrictions primarily apply until 11 January. In early December, the state of emergency extended due to the pandemic was extended. Mouthguards must be worn everywhere indoors except in your own home and more than two people may not be seen at a time in a public place.
The Church opens up for same-sex marriage
Archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevičs calls for legislation that allows homosexuals and other groups who are not married to live together in a regulated manner. “We should distance ourselves from all ideologies and create laws that protect all people in society,” Stankevičs said in a speech. it states that family encompasses a wider range of relationships than just marriages between people of different sexes.
The Minister of the Environment resigns after parking fraud
Minister of the Environment Juris Pūce resigns. The minister of the Latvian Development Party had been accused by a former party comrade of using a parking permit from the city of Riga that he was not entitled to. Pūce is also said to have asked the city office to obtain such a permit free of charge. When the text message conversation with the city office became known, Pūce said it was a joke but later admitted to bringing his colleagues behind the light. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš had then asked the country’s anti-corruption unit to look into the case.
Sanctions are imposed on more people in Belarus
20th of November
Latvia and the other Baltic countries face travel bans for two Belarusian ministers and 26 others. They thus end up on the Baltic countries’ sanctions list, which now includes over 150 people in addition to President Lukashenko. Sports Minister Sergei Kravchuk ends up on the list when he is accused of putting pressure on athletes who spoke out against Lukashenko. Information Minister Igor Lutsky is also blacklisted as being held responsible for shutting down the internet in order to stop protests. The Baltic countries are moving harder towards Belarus than the EU as a whole. The EU has so far imposed sanctions on 59 Belarusians.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Latvia in 2019 was 1,906,632, ranking number 151 in the world. The population growth rate was -1.130% yearly, and the population density was 30.6550 people per km2.