In October 2001 the Latvian government and parliamentarians decided to accelerate the adaptation of the country’s legislation to European Standards to complete the negotiations with Brussels before 2002. The European Commission’s annual report in particular encouraged Riga to continue integrating the Russian-speaking minority. Russian and Latvian publications have the same access to official information sources and accreditation. The Latvian-speaking press, moderately nationalistic and pro-European, thinks that the Russian-speaking media are too influenced by official messages emanating from Moscow via the Russian press. While the Russian-speaking press feels that the Latvian media snub Russia and are too nationalistic and pro-western. Latvian law limits broadcast time in foreign languages to 25 per cent of total broadcasting time, but radio stations have legal recourse at their disposal.
Pressure and obstruction
On 3 May 2001 in a telephone conversation with editor-in-chief Aldis Berzins of the Latvian daily, The Morning Independent, the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Arnis Lapins, tried to apply pressure to prevent the publication of certain information. He threatened to rescind accreditation for the daily’s journalists that would give them access the Prime Minister’s press conference. On 4 May the newspaper devoted an article to the subject.
On 6 July 2001 Valentina Botchkova, journalist for Radio Russia in Riga, found the door to her apartment burned. According to the journalist, who had made special reports on the problem of neo-Nazism in Latvia and on no-fascist demonstrations, the deed was done by supporters of the radical nationalist movements.