It was a busy week in the news. Amid new developments, old stories,
such as the Kalejs extradition, contiued. Slain heros were remembered as well,
even as old enmities resurrected themselves -- as Latvians commemorated those
slain by the Soviet Black Berets, Putin drew battle lines with the new U.S.
administration over Baltic membership in NATO.
This week's headlines:
This week's link is from our story on Baltic
This week's picture is from Peters' trip to Latvia, in August 1993, of
Andris Slapins' memorial in Bastejkalns Park in the
heart of Riga.
Remember, mailer or not, Lat Chat spontaneously appears every Sunday
on AOL starting around 9:00/9:30pm Eastern time, lasting until 11:00/11:30pm.
AOL'ers can follow this link: Town
Square - Latvian chat. And thanks to you participating on the Latvian
message board as well: Click here:
LATVIA (both on AOL only).
Ar visu labu,
Here's a link to Baltic tourism, as featured in this week's news. (We
are obliged to note that we don't have any association with them...)
Mariss Jansons Named to Symphony Orchestra of
Bavarian Radio Post
Newswire Sunday, January 14, 2001 3:00:00 AM
Copyright 2001 PR Newswire
Mariss Jansons Will Be the New Principal Conductor of (Bayerischer Rundfunk) as
of September 2003
MUNICH, Germany, Jan. 14 (PRNewswire) -- Lorin
Maazel's successor for the post of Principal Conductor of Bavarian Radio's
Symphony Orchestra is settled as of today.
Thomas Gruber, the radio director of Bavarian Radio appeared extremely pleased
about Mariss Jansons agreeing to take over the direction of the Symphony
Orchestra and the Choir of Bavarian Radio as of the 2003/2004 season. Jansons,
says Gruber, has the rare gift of not only being able to receive inspiration,
but also to pass it on to the musicians. He can be inspired and can, thus,
inspire the audience. The name Mariss Jansons stands for music with heart and
soul. It should be fascinating to see how his impetus affects the repertoire.
Mariss Jansons has already conducted Bavaria
Radio's Symphony Orchestra many times, the last time being December last year
at a celebrated concert during the "Kissinger Winterzauber". In September he
will direct Bavaria Radio's Symphony Orchestra at the opening of the new
2001/2002 concert season.
Mariss Jansons is
considered one of the most respected conductors of his generation. He became
well-known worldwide not only through his concerts and tours, but also through
his numerous gramophone, radio and TV recordings. Along with his posts as
Principal Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra since 1979, and the
Pittsburgh Symphony since 1997, both of which he has lead to international
acclaim, Mariss Jansons has also worked as Associate Principal conductor of the
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and as Principal Guest Conductor of the
London Philharmonic Orchestra since 1985.
Jansons is the son of the famous conductor Arvid Jansons and was born in Riga
in 1943. He studied violin, piano and conducting at the St. Petersburg
Conservatory, which he completed with distinction, and continued his studies in
1969 in Vienna under Professor Hans Swarowsky and in Salzburg under Herbert von
Karajan. In 1971 Mariss Jansons won the Herbert von Karajan competition in
Mariss Jansons' collaboration with the St.
Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, formerly the Leningrad Philharmonic
Orchestra, started in 1973, when he was appointed Associate Conductor. In 1985
he rose to the rank of Associate Principal Conductor of the orchestra. He still
holds this post today. Since his appointment to the St Petersburg Philharmonic
Orchestra Mariss Jansons has successfully directed the orchestra on many of
their very successful, worldwide tours.
Philharmonic Orchestra has gained a reputation as one of the world's best
orchestras under his leadership. Mariss Jansons and the "Oslo troupe" have been
guests on joint tours at the most important centres in the music world over the
last few years. They played at the Salzburg Festival, the festivals in Lucerne
and Edinburgh, the BBC Proms, the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall
in London as well as the Vienna Music Association, the Royal Concertgebouw, the
Lincoln Centre and the Carnegie Hall in New York and the Suntory Hall in Tokyo.
Over the years they have received many excellent reviews for their numerous
recordings for EMI and Chandos.
Along with his
numerous fixed commitments, Mariss Jansons has again and again conducted many
of the world's best orchestras, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the
Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin and
Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, Bavaria Radio's Symphony
Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the London
Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra with immense success. He is also a
guest at the Salzburg Festival every year with different orchestras.
The repertoire of his gramophone recordings for EMI and
Chandos range from works by Berlioz, Dvorak, Bartok, Mahler, Prokofiev and
Rachmaninov through to Ravel, Respighi, Schostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius,
Stravinsky, Wagner and Weill. Many of the recordings have been awarded
international prizes. In 1989 Mariss Jansons received the Edison Award for the
recording of Schostakovich's Symphony No. 7 with the Leningrad Philharmonic
Orchestra. He received the much sought after Dutch Luister Award for the
recording of the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz with the Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra. For Dvorak's Symphony Nr. 5 with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra he
won the "Penguin Award" and for the Symphonies No. 2 und 3 by Honegger the
Grand Prix de Disque.
The future director of
Bavarian Radio's Symphony Orchestra has already been honoured with awards on
numerous occasions. He was chosen as "Artist of the Year 1996" by EMI Classics
and received the Norwegian Anders Jahre Culture Prize. Furthermore, a special
honour was bestowed on him in Norway, namely in 1995 he was awarded the
"Commander with Star", the highest Order awarded to non-noble, non-Norwegian
citizens, along with the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, by King Harald V.
Photos of Mariss Jansons: Photos are available in the
BR picture archive, Tel. +49-89-5900-3040, Fax +49-89-5900-3284 or
BR-APIS-ONLINE 10040 as well as LEONARDO-ISDN: Tel. +49-89-5900-4597 (please
address your enquiry to LEONARDO on Tel. No. +49-89-5900-2738, Gerhard
/CONTACT: Bayerischer Rundfunk Press
INTERVIEW-Latvia's last communist boss remains
Reuters World Report Thursday, January 18, 2001 7:24:00 AM
By Martins Gravitis
RIGA, Jan 18 (Reuters) -- Ten years after a
bloody crackdown by Moscow failed to stop Latvia's anti-Soviet independence
bid, the Baltic state's last communist leader says he still believes it was a
mistake to let the Soviet Union fall apart.
grown up with the idea and understanding that we live in a single union and it
was hard for me imagine that such a huge state could crumble so abruptly,"
Alfreds Rubiks, 65, told Reuters in an interview.
The Soviet occupation of Latvia and Baltic neighbours
Lithuania and Estonia started in 1940, when Red Army troops invaded.
Moscow tried desperately to stop the three leaving its
grip after they declared sovereignty amid democratic reforms launched in the
late 1980s by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Hardliners resorted to violence in early 1991, but they
failed to turn back the tide.
On January 20, 1991,
an elite OMON unit of Soviet police attacked Latvia's Interior Ministry, which
had come under the command of pro-independence forces after an election in
Five were killed as the OMON took the
building but later left it. No attacks were launched on parliament, where
peaceful protestors had gathered as human shields to protect it.
The violence, which came a week after Soviet troops
killed 14 in a crackdown on neighbouring Baltic state Lithuania, will be
commemorated by Latvian leaders on Saturday.
Moscow's failure to crush the Baltics' independence
movements, helped mark the end for the Soviet empire. Russia recognised the
Baltics in September, after a failed coup in Moscow.
SOVIET COLLAPSE BAD FOR LATVIA
Rubiks, who was head of the Latvian Communist Party in
1991, served three years in jail for acting against the country's drive to
regain independence, although he maintains that the orders for the OMON attack
came from Moscow.
However, he says he still thinks
leaving the Soviet Union was a bad deal for Latvia, a country of 2.4 million
"I was never in favour of Latvia quitting
the Soviet Union because that would cut us off from huge economic resources
available to us almost for free." But he added that it was now impossible to
revive the Soviet Union.
A career communist,
Rubiks became popular as the reformist mayor of Riga for a campaign to root out
needless bureaucracy and cut red tape.
hardline stand against the independence movement, though, sealed his fate as a
Ten years on, he puts the blame
squarely on Gorbachev for the Soviet demise, and the violence that accompanied
"He should not be saying he did not know about
what was planned in Vilnius. I was a witness in Moscow, in Gorbachev's office,
of his telephone conversation with Vilnius party and KGB leaders, when these
events were discussed, saying that force would be used," Rubiks said.
Rubiks has not disappeared from politics. He is
chairman of the Latvian Socialist Party, which has four members of parliament,
although by law he cannot be an MP himself because of his time in jail.
Though out of favour now, Rubiks thinks he and other
socialists will have their day again, and not just in Latvia.
"We are facing a wall these days, but as Lenin used to
say about the Russian Czarist regime, "The wall is a rotten one.""
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania tourism on the rise
Newswire Thursday, January 18, 2001 8:19:00 AM
Copyright 2001 PR Newswire
HAMBURG, Germany, Jan. 18 (PRNewswire)
Germany's travel specialist for the Baltic States "Schnieder Reisen" released
its latest travel catalogue with 68 color pages of their extensive and widened
packages for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as well as Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad
and St. Petersburg.
Included in the catalogue are
trips and advice for vacations to the Baltic States -- including the capitals
Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius -- but besides there are group tours offered, too.
Recent additions to the program include bike tours
of the Baltic States and special tours to celebrate Riga's 800-year
Also there are offers to the "opera
event" and the "musical festival" in Riga or for the "Thomas-Mann-festival" in
Nida (Nidden) on the Curonian spit (Kurische Nehrung).
The catalogue also includes information about: ferries,
hotel recommendations, automobile tours, architectural tips, river trips,
cruises on the Baltic Sea and roundtrips by train.
A free catalogue can be ordered at:
trademark of CARA Tours GmbH Schillerstrasse 43
Today In History (January 20th) [excerpt]
Online Friday, January 19, 2001 7:00:00 PM
Copyright 2001 The Associated
Today is Saturday, Jan. 20, the 20th day of 2001. There
are 345 day left in the year.
Today's Highlight in
Ten years ago: During the Gulf
War, Iraqi missiles were shot down by U.S. Patriot rockets as they approached
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Iraqi television showed interviews with seven downed
allied pilots, three of them Americans. In Latvia, "Black Beret"
commandos of the Soviet Interior Ministry attacked the republic's Interior
Ministry headquarters, killing five people.
Latvia -- Crackdown Commemorated
& World Saturday, January 20, 2001 2:38:00 PM
Copyright 2001 The
By STEVEN C. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
RIGA, Latvia (AP) -- Latvians built bonfires
outside parliament on a chilly Saturday to remember five people shot down by
Soviet soldiers in the 1991 crackdown that failed to crush Latvia's
Parliament Speaker Janis
Straume, in a special session held to launch an evening of commemorative
events, recalled the courage of countrymen who defended key Riga buildings by
serving as human shields against possible military aggression.
"Your faith and determination flamed as brightly as the
campfires ... They convinced the Soviets that terrorism was not going to force
Latvians to concede," Straume said.
parliament, people filled the cobblestone streets to sing folk songs around
bonfires similar to ones that warmed those who manned the makeshift barricades
10 years ago.
"There was a feeling that we had to
be there, that the time to stand firm had come," recalled Ainars Alkis, a
student when he participated a decade ago.
the Soviet Union threatening to crumble, Soviet troops stormed Latvia's
Interior Ministry on the night of Jan. 20, 1991. Five people died -- a little
boy, two policemen and two documentary filmmakers.
The troops never fired on those at parliament, and the
attack only bolstered Latvia's drive for independence.
After a failed Kremlin coup in August 1991, Latvia and
its Baltic neighbors, Lithuania and Estonia, regained the independence they
lost in 1940, when Soviet forces annexed them.
was clear that the Soviet Union was dying," and military action to forestall
that "just made people that much more determined to win at all costs," said
Dainis Ivans, an independence movement leader.
was Ivans who, as deputy speaker of parliament in 1991, urged Latvians to
barricade key locations in the capital.
weren't worried about their own lives or property," he recalled. "Farmers drove
their tractors into Riga. People used their own cars to block bridges."
A week earlier, Soviet troops had attacked
demonstrators in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, killing 14. Only Estonia escaped
When word came that the ministry was
under attack, a team of Latvian filmmakers rushed to a park across the street.
Minutes after the shooting began, a boy and two Latvian policemen were fatally
wounded. Then the guns were turned on the cameramen.
Andris Slapins, a well-known documentary filmmaker, was
hit first. As he lay dying on the ground, coughing blood, he pleaded with
partner Juris Podnieks to record the moment. "Film me, film me. They got me
right in the heart."
Filmmaker Gvido Zvaigzne also
was hit. He died two weeks later in a hospital.
The footage of the dying Slapins helped make "Homeland"
an award-winning documentary about the Baltic independence movement.
On Saturday, a series of modest stone markers placed in
the park to remember the dead were covered with flowers, candles and tiny
Latvian flags. A police honor guard kept vigil.
Some Baltic leaders have called on Russia to bring
those responsible for the deadly crackdown to trial.
"Russia, while quick to claim all the benefits of the
former U.S.S.R., has been negligent -- in my view, criminally negligent -- in
assuming the responsibilities," said journalist Karlis Streips.
Slapins' widow, Natasha Dushen, doesn't expect that to
"I've thought endlessly about who is to
blame, but in the end, I think it was the system," she said. "It created
primitive people by teaching them that everything can be solved by force of
"Andris once told me he would even give his
life for Latvia to be free," she said. "The Soviet forces really underestimated
that desire for freedom."
Australian court sets Kalejs extradition
Reuters World Report Wednesday, January 24, 2001 10:02:00 PM
By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE, Jan 24 (Reuters) -- An Australian
court set on Thursday the start of an extradition hearing to send alleged Nazi
war criminal Konrad Kalejs back to Latvia for May 14.
Kalejs, 87, was arrested in Melbourne in December after
Australia received an official request for extradition from Riga to face trial
on one charge each of genocide and war crimes.
this stage there will be a date set for the commencement of a section 19
hearing on the 14th of May," Melbourne Magistrate Lisa Hannan ordered,
referring to the extradition hearing.
date of the extradition hearing will ultimately depend on the court being
satisfied that Kalejs's lawyers, and the prosecution, had enough time to
gather, translate and authenticate evidence dating back 58 years.
The Australian government has said the case could take
up to two years to resolve because Kalejs is opposing his extradition.
Kalejs, on bail at a home for the elderly, was due to
appear in court on Thursday for a procedural hearing but failed to show because
he was sick, his lawyer, Gerard Lethbridge, said.
Hannan extended Kalejs's bail to April 19 when another
procedural hearing would be held.
it would take several weeks just to estimate how much time he would need to
gather evidence, including information from court hearings which have been held
in several locations such as the United States.
"The issues are factually and forensically complex," he
told the court.
Lethbridge declined to comment to
reporters on how sick Kalejs was or whether he was bedridden.
Kalejs, who took Australian citizenship in 1957, was
deported from the United States in 1994 and then from Canada in 1997 for lying
on entry forms about his war past.
He fled to
Melbourne a year ago to avoid deportation from Britain. If extradited, he would
be the first Latvian Nazi-era war crimes suspect to be brought to trial since
the country regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Nearly all of Latvia's 70,000-strong Jewish population
died during the World War Two occupation.
welcoming the legal proceedings against Kalejs, a representative from the
Jewish group B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission said there was a "distinct
possibility" Kalejs could die before his extradition was resolved.
"He's elderly and they say he's sick. One can only wait
and see," Anti-Defamation Commission public affairs director Benseon Apple told
Putin Dismisses Nato Expansion
Online Friday, January 26, 2001 2:06:00 PM
Copyright 2001 The Associated
By DEBORAH SEWARD, Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin
set a gloomy tone Friday for relations with the new U.S. administration,
bluntly dismissing NATO's eastward expansion as a "mistake" and warning that
Russia expected America to work to preserve the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Putin's tough speech at the Russian
Foreign Ministry was his first major foreign policy statement since President
Bush was sworn in last week.
A series of vital
security issues are potential flash points for Bush and Putin, including U.S.
proposals for a national missile defense system, further NATO expansion
eastward toward Russia's borders and Russia's improving ties with nations the
United States considers pariahs, including Iraq and Iran.
NATO has been seeking to improve links with Russia that
were badly damaged as a result of the alliance's 1999 bombing campaign in
Yugoslavia, which Russia could not prevent and bitterly resented.
On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said
he thought the "ice age" in relations with Russia was over and the alliance was
"ready to go much further in our cooperation."
his speech Friday, Putin said he hoped for better relations with NATO, but the
Russian leader gave no indication a fast improvement was in the offing.
"If we are able to develop relations with NATO in the
spirit of frankness, openness and constructive cooperation, that would be a
significant contribution to strengthening European stability and our own
security," Putin said.
However, Putin said NATO's
decision to include former Warsaw Pact members Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic in the alliance was a "mistake."
Repeatedly over the past year, Putin has stressed
Russia's opposition to further alliance expansion that could eventually include
the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia -- putting NATO
smack up against a long stretch of Russian territory.
Putin was more ambiguous when addressing the creation
of an American missile defense shield, which Bush has endorsed and hopes will
defend the United States against threats from such countries as North Korea or
The Russian leader hinted compromise was
possible but stressed the United States must meet its obligations as well as
work to preserve the ABM treaty, which would need amending if Washington were
to go ahead with the missile plan.
done what the world community expected it to do," Putin said, referring to the
ratification of START II and a global nuclear test ban. "Now we are expecting a
response. I don't think that a unilateral disarmament of Russia is in anyone's
interests," Putin said, adding that such a step would "irreparably" damage
Putin has warned previously that
Russia would ditch all existing arms control agreements if Washington
unilaterally backed out of the ABM treaty. Avoiding such a warning Friday,
Putin held out hope of compromise.
"We will have
to do complex and delicate work this year with our partners to preserve the
1972 treaty. The latest statements from the leaders of the new administration,
the new president, show that this dialogue could be positive. We strongly count
on such joint work," Putin said.
Putin's comments remind us how important it is that we not forget the
Latvian past. This week's picture is from Peters' second trip to Latvia, in
August 1993. Summer or winter, there are always some flowers left in
remembrance. The simple inscription reads:
Dead January 20, 1991