BNN SUMMARY OF THE WEEK: Ten days. 2% of optimism. Loyalty guaranteed

The passing week was notable in Latvia’s information space with various direct and harsh announcements to residents. The people announcing them either tried to remove out «rose-tinted glasses» or, like the Chief of State Police, attempted to put to rest rooted prejudices. It is good that officials’ communication with the people has become less filled with empty promises, bureaucratic jargon and fears of «admission of mistakes».
All residents in Latvia, according to the new Minister of Defence, should plan out survival tactics for at least ten days if or when the country is forced to oppose military threats on its own. Residents are recommended to prepare the hows, wheres and whens in the event of a hypothetical «dark day».
Latvia’s Constitution Protection Bureau is such a secretive special service that most residents don’t even remember it exists. This time the bureau came out of the shadows to explain to residents with an important piece of news: do not underestimate the aggressive neighbour and its leader!
One of the biggest scandals of the year so far is the ongoing procurement for the needs of Latvia’s National Armed Forces. There are justified suspicions that the whole project was a political deal parties reached in the name of the government’s stability. The question everyone is eager to ask – how can such a large project could be entrusted to a small firm that doesn’t even have any warehouses? Why is a firm that has a couple of cafeterias was picked to spearhead a procurement project that weighs EUR 220 million?
The news of some people on the other side of the ocean daring to deny the horrible reality of the war in Ukraine, makes Latvia nervous. The reason is because to countries in Europe and Baltic region in general this war is very real. This is especially worrying coming from representatives of Republican Party’s representatives in the US Congress, who are announcing louder and louder that they are tired of Ukraine. US seemed like an unshakable mountain that holds up our security and serves as one of the main guarantees for NATO’s Article 5. There is also word of rising «Trumpism» in the country. Rumours or not – people are worried.
BNN gives you a summery of the most relevant events of the past week in the following topics: Can we hold out?; Vlad stays strong; Temptation close by; Economic success; White devil; Hour X diet; Too hard-working?; Hate causes blindness.
Latvian minister says country must be prepared to resist aggression for at least ten days
Latvian Minister of Defence Ināra Mūrniece. Photo: Zane Bitere/LETALatvia needs to be able to oppose any kind of aggression and threats for a period of at least ten days, said Minister of Defence Ināra Mūrniece during a discussion of Latvia’s future defence concept on Monday, the 27th of February.
During this discussion various experts suggested multiple practical proposals to help improve defensive capabilities.
The National Defence Concept is a political planning document that dictates the country’s strategic objectives and operational principles. The existing concept was passed by the parliament in the year 2020.
The minister turned attention of the discussion’s attendees towards the fact that the NATO treaty considers an attack on one member state as an attack on all. In accordance with this treaty, each NATO member state is committed to maintaining and developing their individual and collective ability to oppose armed invasions.
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Latvian SAB: Putin’s regime is stronger than ever
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kripto Haber Ajansı/FlickrThe wide restrictions and repressions against those unhappy with the regime in Russia have reached a nearly totalitarian level. The elites, however, have decided to consolidate around Russian President Vladimir Putin as a guarantee for the existing system and welfare, as noted in the report published by Latvia’s Constitution Protection Bureau (2022).
«In general results of last year indicate that in the coming year Russia will have enough resources to continue the war. Additionally, despite the challenges created by the war, Putin’s regime is stable and not at risk, at least in the near future. Putin’s and political elite’s priority number one is preserving power. To accomplish this, they will not allow any compromises.
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FID warns the risk of breach of sanctions in Latvia is very high
The chief of Strategic Analysis Department of the Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity Paulis Iļjenkovs. Photo: Līga Gredzena/LETAThe risk of anti-Russian sanctions being breached in Latvia is very high, said the head of Strategic Analysis Department of the Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity (FID) Paulis Iļjenkovs at a seminar organised to discuss the risks of circumvention of sanctions on Thursday, the 2nd of March.
This can be explained with both Latvia’s geographical location and the Russia’s historical role in Latvia’s economy. For example, in 2021 Russia was in the Top 5 countries with which Latvia performed various financial transactions. Even before 2021 Russia was in 4th to 5th place in terms of export and import operations, Iļjenkovs reminded.
«The risks of sanctions being breached are too high for Latvia to ignore. This is why we recommend businesses to perform risk analysis. Otherwise they may lose access to their bank account and enter criminal liability,» said Iļjenkovs.
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Latvia’s GDP grows by 2.0% in 2022
Photo: Paula Čurkste/LETACompared with 2021, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 2.0 % in 2022. Last year, GDP at current prices amounted to EUR 39.1 billion.
Compared with Q4 2021, GDP increased by 0.3% in Q4 2022. Compared to Q3, however, GDP at constant prices has remained unchanged (according to seasonally and calendar adjusted data). In Q4 GDP at current prices was EUR 10.7 billion.
Last year the added value of producing sectors went down by 1.1%, whereas in in the services sector it increased by 4.2 %, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSB).
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Police chief promises 99.99% of Latvian police officers are loyal to their country
Chief of Latvian State Police Armands Ruks. Photo: Evija Trifanova/LETAChief of Latvian State Police Armands Ruks stressed during a meeting of Saeima’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee on Wednesday, the 1st of March, that the absolute majority of law enforcers in the police force are loyal to the country.
Commenting on the publicly voiced concerns about the lack of loyalty among police officers, Ruks said «the devil is not so black as he is painted». Police actively monitor opinions among police officers. Control measures continue as well.
«It is no surprise that there are people of Slavic ethnicity working in the police. Their family traditions may have included participation in events associated with the 9th of May,» said Ruks, adding that there was one case when a police officer left the force, listing as a reason for his decision the existence of «Nazism in senior leadership of State Police».
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Latvian Federation of Food Enterprises invites halting scandalous army food supply procurement
Photo: Evija Trifanova/LETALatvian Federation of Food Enterprises (LPUF) invites halting the army food supply procurement worth EUR 200 million. According to LPUF, it will not achieve established goals. The organisation putting the project on hold until a new procurement has been developed and coordinated with the food industry, as reported by LPUF Council chairperson Ināra Šure.
«More than 800 locally-made food products are marked with Green and Bordeux spool label. Which means they meed increased quality requirements. But now the procurement presents another very expensive mediator, and it seems that instead of high quality locally-made food products, our troops will have to make do with low-quality imported food products,» said Šure. She suspects the contract as it is will not be completed. Because, as far as the federation is concerned, there isn’t a single contract signed with local producers for the creation of food stores for «hour X».
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Council of Latvian State Forests steps down amid massive scandal
Edmunds Beļskis. Photo: Zane Bitere/LETAOn Thursday, the 2nd of March, LTV programme Panorāma reported all of the members of the council of Latvian State Forests (LVM) made the decision to step down.
All members, including the council’s chairman Edmunds Beļskis, have submitted their resignations. The first to submit his resignation was council member Kaspars Ozoliņš. The public announcement regarding his resignation mentioned that it is no longer possible for him to continue performing his duties as an independent member of the council.
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Radical right-wing conspiracy theorists question whether the war is real
Photo: UnsplashAt the time when a year has passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the number of conspiracy theories questioning whether the war is real on social media has significantly increased, writes the BBC.
A large number of US radical right-wing social media accounts with large followings have published a series of baseless claims that the war in Ukraine is a fabrication perpetuated by western media and governments. Among the spreaders of fake news are also persons whose accounts on Twitter have been closed before. These people regained the ability to use the platform after Elon Musk took it over.
One assumption that quickly became popular suggested that the entire war was staged and as evidence served the shortcomings of video recordings from the front line. One such post was later shared by former US national security adviser Michael Flynn.
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