What the papers say
I still have some interesting topics to cover in Latvia, but this morning I will let the newspaper decide what the subject is going to be. Before taking the bus from Ventspils to Kuldiga, I choose one out of many Latvian and Russian newspapers. It's Diena (The Day), and I later find out that it is one of the two most popular countrywide newspapers in Latvia. One problem: I can`t read a word of it. Assistance required and I do manage to get some although it takes me a while to locate English-speaking people in the small town of Kuldiga.
While walking through the city park, I meet Zigurts (14), Edgar (15) and another Zigurts (15, all in photo) of whom only Edgar speaks English. The three boys are spending their last days of their summer holidays in the town park - chilling out as they call it. Edgar helps me translate the headlines on the front page of the newspaper. The main article mentions a construction error in a new bridge in the Riga District, which will cause an important delay to the completion date of the bridge.
Zigurts (14), Edgar (15) and Zigurts (15):
..chilling out in the city park
Two columns are spent on a Swedish artist who recently had critital anti-moslim cartoons published in Scandinavia`s leading newpapers - much to the dislike of the Iranian government who has filed official complaints with Swedish authorities. The artist, Larss Vilks, is quoted saying: `I am an artist enjoying my freedom of expression. I am not afraid of anybody and I am used to create provocative objects and will face the consequences.` The reason for this article to appear in the Latvian newpaper is the fact that the artist is of Latvian descent.
Remaining articles, explained to me in more detail by Aiga (37) include the news that the Venice film festival does not include any Lithuanian participation, a fact slightly regretted by the author. One article deals with a compensation granted to two state officials who leave office, and Aiga is not willing or able to comment on the exact details of that transaction. `It`s probably something political with some people having conflicting interests`.
On another page, we find an article that she seems to be more interested in: young Estonian kids demonstrating for the right to receive education in Russian. In the case of Latvia, Russian has been disappearing as main language of conversation within the school system. This process has been stretched over a number of years and is now being completed. In Estonia, such measures will start to be taken by the beginning of this year - another topic in the frequent arguments that Estonia and Russia got themselves involved in since the beginning of this year. Aiga explains that the situation of Russians in Latvia is quite different from the one in Estonia. Estonians and Russians never got along very well. Even in Soviet times, Estonians refused to speak Russian. The situation of Russians in Estonia is followed closely by the Kremlin, and the situation is causing some turmoil in the region. All three Baltic countries have their own way of dealing with the past. The Lithuanians seem to be at ease with the Russians, Latvia comme ci comme ca and Estonia not at all. I will spent some more time writing about this topic in the next few days, let me first complete the international section of today`s Diena.
News form abroad
Elina (19) helps me read the international headlines page. Main item: the new Turkish president is entering office, he has a religious past and critics are afraid that he will turn the modern secular Turkish state, established in 1923, into an muslim country. Other subjects gaining attention: the fires in Greece, suspects arrested in Russian journalist murder case of Anna Politkovska, Taliban prepared to release Korean hostages, shooting during UK carnival in Notting Hill, and Russian billionaire arrested.
Iraq, daily present in the US and European news coverage is only granted 10 lines at the end of the page. I do not want that bit translated. `Nogalinot 25 un ievainojot 64 civilekus`. I imagine it means 25 people killed and 64 injured. Enough news for today, I prefer to spend time on my own news reports that, in general, cover happier things than this.
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