"The Soviet story" marks its 10th anniversary with A screening on the blaze channel - june 14, 2018
This week marks 10 years since Latvian Television screened Edvins Snore’s documentary film The Soviet Story, shortly after it premiered at the European Parliament on April 8, 2008.
To mark this anniversary, on June 14, the film will again be screened in the United States on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze channel. The Blaze has more than 9 million household subscribers and its home page theblaze.com gets 30 million page views each month. The film screening will be preceded by an interview with director Edvins Snore.
The film’s 10 year anniversary is noteworthy for a number of reasons: it has been translated into 30 languages, screened on national TV or in cinemas in 22 countries, including on PBS member stations here in the U.S. More than 50,000 DVD have been purchased around the world and the film is still popular on Amazon and iTunes.
After its premieres in Brussels and Latvia in 2008, Daris Delins, Latvia’s Honorary Consul in New York and Managing Principal at Perry Street Advisors LLC got involved in the film’s worldwide distribution.
“I saw the film soon after its premiere. Having worked in film distribution for a number of years I was pleasantly surprised by what Edvins Snore had accomplished. It had an interesting and compelling powerful historical narrative, with an excellent narrator, and packaged so that it would appeal to an international audience. I saw that it would resonate not just in the Baltics, but beyond. What also impressed me was that this was Edvins’s first film project”, notes Daris Delins.
Delins continues, “It is always hard to predict how a new film will be received by audiences. Many times, I have to say, it is just a question of luck. But then Fox News commentator Glenn Beck came across the film and after watching it told his followers on social media that they must see it. After his interview with Edvins on the Fox News Channel, the response and demand for the film’s DVD was phenomenal. We could not have dreamed of such publicity for the film!”
The film’s director Edvins Snore admits that international interest in the film was also assisted by Russia’s hysterical reaction to it. There were demonstrations organized in Moscow, where an effigy of the director was burned. Russia even published a book, where Kremlin historians tried to refute the facts presented in The Soviet Story. The film was also reviewed and commented on in well-known publications such as ‘The Economist’, ‘New York Times’ and ‘Le Monde’, to name just a few.
Noteworthy support for the film after its release also came from Ukrainian diaspora around the world and with their assistance the film was screened in the U.S. Congress. Emigres from Mainland China and Taiwan also helped spread news about the film in their home countries. Even though the film says nothing about them, they well know first-hand the perils of Communism, notes director Edvins Snore.
After its release on the international film festival circuit, many people approached distributor Daris Delins saying: “We need to show this to our people, to our communities”. There were calls from Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and Poland, to name just a few”.
“We thought of a new strategy” says Delins. “We will give you a screening license if you help us translate the film into your native language. That is how foreign language translations for the film came about. It was not an easy project, as each translation needed 2-3 independent people to then check the accuracy of each translation. But in 2009 we were able to issue the first DVD edition with 15 languages and then one year later the 2-disc set with 30 languages. We were truly pioneers in this type of collaborative global film distribution project”.
Edvins Snore does not hide his gratitude for the interest that the viewing public has shown for the film, especially in the United States where the film continues to be screened 10 years later. “In 2017, I was in Washington D.C. at a reception and someone approached me asking if I was the film’s director. I said yes. He then introduced himself as a history professor at a university and said he screens The Soviet Story in lectures as part of the coursework. Together we then took a selfie. I get similar responses elsewhere when I travel around the world” says Edvins.
Daris Delins also remarks “The film is unique in the history of Latvian and Baltic cinema, because it has what we call in the film business,“a long tail”. Whilst the majority of films, if they are not iconic Hollywood classics or one-off box offices smash hits, typically fade from the public’s limelight after their initial release, rarely to be watched again, The Soviet Story’s subject matter is still so interesting and current, that people today even in 2018 still find it informative and relevant; this looks likely to be the case for many years to come”. Just the other week, a buyer on Amazon wrote the following after they purchased the DVD:
“This video should be required viewing in all Jr. High & High School history classes in The United States~ heartbreaking, appalling, horrifying ~ everyone should be aware of the true nature of socialism/communism”.
“There is also another ‘silent partner’, who assisted with the film’s distribution – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin”, notes Daris Delins. “Putin’s actions in the past decade have no doubt prolonged interest in the film, given Russia’s actions in Crimea, the Ukraine and elsewhere, which again has raised questions on when will the descendants of the former Soviet Union ever be able to acknowledge and apologize for these human rights violations”.
The film can be accessed at http://thesovietstory.vhx.tv/
It can also be purchased or rented on Amazon and iTunes.
Travel & Leisure magazine - could the baltic states could be the next scandinavia ? why to visit latvia now - may 2018
One country in the region emerges from the post-Soviet shadow to quietly become a world-class destination for food, design, and natural beauty.
Rich in history, with a burgeoning creative scene, the Eastern European nation is only starting to hit the radar of global travelers. The perfect weeklong visit combines four days in the capital, Riga, with three more in the nearby countryside.
Click here to read the full article by Boris Fishman, May 16, 2018.
NY TIMES - Jelena Ostapenko Returns to the French Open a Hero at Home in Latvia
NY Times, May 25, 2018 - by Christopher Clarey
RIGA, Latvia — Make it big for Latvia and they do not wait long to mark the occasion.
Last June in Paris, the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko, barely 20 years old, aimed fearlessly for the lines at the French Open and hit just enough of them to win not only her first Grand Slam title but her first tour singles title.
By November, her home club, Enri, had inaugurated a new indoor facility named “A. Ostapenko Halle” with her own reserved practice court. (She prefers to be called Alona instead of Jelena, her given name.)
The club also has installed a multimedia exhibit dedicated to her still-brief career, complete with a teddy bear won at the Wimbledon junior tournament, a congratulatory letter from Latvia’s president, her French Open trophy and a video screen that shows in a continuous loop the broadcast of her upset victory over Simona Halep in the final in Paris.
Over the top? Perhaps. But then again no Latvian tennis club has ever had a member quite like Ostapenko, the first Grand Slam singles champion in the Baltic nation’s turbulent history.
“It feels cool,” Ostapenko said as she led a tour of the facility last month. “Especially when you drive from the airport to Riga and on the right side you see the club and my name.”
Ostapenko won the French Open by repeatedly going for broke with her returns and groundstrokes, whether she was firmly planted in the red clay or stretched out wide with very little margin for error.
“It’s not percentage tennis, but it worked, and I hope it will work again sometime,” said Anastasija Sevastova, her Latvian compatriot and Fed Cup teammate. “She plays how she is in life. She’s so confident. She knows she will make it. That’s why she won a Grand Slam.”
With about two million inhabitants, Latvia has a smaller population than Connecticut or Albania. But in women’s tennis, it is making a mockery of the demographics, and at least for the moment it has more top 20 players than Spain, France, Australia, China or Russia.
Ostapenko is ranked fifth as she prepares to defend her title — and a lot of computer points — in Paris this week. The more artful, less forceful Sevastova — a 28-year-old master of the drop shot — is ranked 20th and reached the quarterfinals of the United States Open in 2016 and 2017.
Ernests Gulbis, a wildly unpredictable talent, was the first Latvian player to make a mark in the 2000s by breaking into the men’s top 10 briefly in 2014 after reaching the French Open semifinals with Ostapenko watching from his box.
But it is the Latvian women who have made the deeper impression. Ostapenko is arguably the second-most prominent active athlete in the country behind Kristaps Porzingis, the 7-foot-3 Knicks star who is 22.
To continue to read the full NY Times articles, please click here.
Rothko in jazz nYC premiere at baryshnikov arts center - may 2, 2018
On May 2nd, the Maris Briezkalns Quintet performed its acclaimed Rothko in Jazz production at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.
Rothko in Jazz features music by ten renowned Latvian composers who were each commissioned to create a piece evoking the mood of one of Rothko’s abstract expressionist works created between 1945 and 1969. The original jazz compositions, arranged and performed by the Quintet, are accompanied by large-scale projections of Rothko’s iconic paintings. A recording of the project was released by the Quintet in 2016, and the Quintet previously performed Rothko in Jazz at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
The audience was introduced by Latvian born Mikhail Baryshnikov, who remembers listening to jazz music in occupied Latvia on the radio when he was young, something that was considered decadent at the time by the authorities.
In attendance was also the Minister of Culture of Latvia, Dace Melbarde and Mark Rothko's son, Christopher Rothko. Rothko in Jazz is being performed also in the UK, Japan, Belgium and Poland this year as part of Latvia's Centenary celebrations.
Picture: from the left, Latvia's Ambassador to the U.S. Andris Teikmanis, Mikhail Baryshnikov, musician Maris Briezkalns, and Honorary Consul for Latvia in New York, Daris Delins.
President raimionds vejonis visits new york - april 7, 2018
The President of Latvia, H.E. Mr. Raimonds Vējonis, visited New York on April 6-7. During his stay he met with business leaders, the media, members of the Latvian community and also attended the Latvian Heritage Night celebrating Latvia's centennial year at Madison Square Gardens, where the NY Knicks played the Milwaukee Bucks. In attendance were more than 700 members from the Latvian community, some of who had traveled from as far as Latvia and Australia to attend the game. President Vējonis met on court with NY Knicks star, Latvian-born Kristaps Porzingis. The game night began with the NY Latvian Choir singing the Star Spangled Banner.
President of latvia raimonds vejonis meets with u.s. president donald trump
On Tuesday April 3, 2018, the President of Latvia, H.E. Raimonds Vējonis met with U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the White House. Also attending the meeting and the luncheon were the Presidents of Estonia and Lithuania. In his address before the luncheon meeting President Trump said the following:
"Today, it’s my pleasure to congratulate Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 100th anniversary of their independence. That’s really quite a great achievement, and congratulations. And I’m honored to have you with us in the White House and the Oval Office. We covered a little territory today. Right? Really tremendous. One hundred years.
We’re thrilled to celebrate this historic milestone by welcoming all of you to our country. And I know you’ve been here a little bit before, but this is something special. So we really enjoy having you.
From the very beginning of your countries’ independence, the United States never — and this is, like, never — and I think you know that better than anybody — never ceased to recognize the sovereignty of the three Baltic republics, even though, throughout the years, there’s been a lot of conflict, a lot of problems, a lot of difficulty, and we never let you down. And we won’t let you down.
At today’s U.S.-Baltic Centennial Summit, we’re inaugurating 100 years of renewed partnership among our nations, grounded once more in our shared commitment to independent sovereignty and a total respect of the rule of law.
This afternoon, we will discuss our cooperation on a range of issues, including expanding bilateral trade and investment. And I know you’re making a lot of investment in our country. You’re buying a lot of military equipment from the United States. And we make the best military equipment in the world by far, whether it’s missiles or planes or anything else. So we appreciate that.
And we’re also going to be promoting joint security initiatives. I especially want to commend the Baltic nations on meeting their defense spending obligations this year for NATO, unlike some of the other countries, frankly, that haven’t met their obligations, but they will.
We have a tremendous amount more — and I will take credit for this, and you have given me credit for this — a lot more money coming into NATO because of my initiative. I said, “You have to pay.” A lot of years, they weren’t paying. They were delinquent. And now they’re paying.
So NATO is taking in a lot more money than it ever did before. And ultimately, it will be at least $33 billion more over a short period of time. That’s a lot of money. Big difference.
It’s a privilege to host all of you at the White House for this historic summit, and I look forward to getting to know you better. And we’re going to be meeting with your representatives throughout the day and throughout the days. And we’re going to have a very long and strong relationship.
Thank you very much for being here. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much."
To read the full White House Declaration to Celebrate 100 years of Independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Renewed Partnership, click here.
To view the press conference with the three Baltic Presidents and President Trump, please click here.
Save the date: the first ever latvian heritage night with the ny knicks - april 7, 2018
Experience the New York Knicks 1st ever Latvian Heritage Night !
KNICKS VS. BUCKS, SAT. APRIL 7 @ 7:30PM
Join us on this historic occasion as we celebrate the Latvian Centennial when the New York Knicks, home of NBA All Star Kristaps Porziņģis, take on the Milwaukee Bucks @ MSG, and wish Kristaps Porzingis a speedy recovery from his recent surgery.
Guest of honor: President of Latvia, H.E. Mr. Raimonds Vējonis.
A fun-filled evening, with the NY Latvian Choir performing the Star Spangled Banner, pīrāgi on sale, and special T-shirt giveaways.
To purchase tickets, CLICK HERE
or for more info please contact:
Cole Schlesinger, Group Sales Account Manager at Madison Square Garden
Cole.Schlesinger@msg.com or 212-631-5739
Pre-Game get-together: Fans of Latvia and KP are welcome to the pre-game warm up party that will commence from 3 pm onwards at Stitch Bar & Lounge, 247 West 37th Street, between 7th & 8th Avenue. Entry $5, with a cash bar. Families welcome.
Learn more about Latvia's Centenary year here.
Māris briežkalns quintet - rothko in jazz - ny premiere - may 2, 2018
Māris Briežkalns Quintet's Rothko in Jazz is hailed by The Washington Post as “a wide-ranging musical homage to Mark Rothko’s paintings."
The evening features music by ten renowned Latvian composers, each commissioned to create a piece evoking the mood of an abstract expressionist artwork by the Latvia-born visual artist. The original jazz compositions, arranged and performed by the Quintet, are accompanied by large-scale projections of Rothko's iconic paintings.
Composers: Lolita Ritmanis, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Rihards Dubra, Artūrs Maskats, Pēteris Vasks, Jēkabs Jančevskis, Vilnis Šmīdbergs, Jēkabs Nīmanis, Georgs Pelēcis, Raimonds Pauls.
When: Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at 7:30 pm
Where: Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street, (Between 9th and 10th Avenues)
To book tickets, please click here.
Māris Briežkalns Quintet is today one of the leading and interesting small acoustic mainstream bands on Latvian jazz scene, stretching special accents on pop – jazz and Latin jazz. MBQ has performed on several international stages including also here in the U.S.at the JFK Center Washington D.C., and in NYC at Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. To read more about Māris Briežkalns Quintet, click here.
Baltic foreign ministers meet with U.S. secretary of state - march 5, 2018
On 5 March in Washington, D.C., the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, together with the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States met with the United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, for a discussion on preparations for the U.S.-Baltic States Summit to be held this spring in Washington. The officials also discussed cooperation between the Baltic States region and the U.S. in security policy.
The officials also discussed preparations for the U.S.-Baltic States Summit scheduled for 3 April in Washington. The event is to be opened by the U.S. President Donald Trump jointly with the Presidents of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
For more information please click here.
Empire state building in the colors of latvia - february 9, 2018
To celebrate the opening of the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, New York's iconic Empire State Building will be illuminated in the colors of the competing nations on Friday February 9, 2018.
The lighting will commence at sunset and continue till 2 am. Each country's national flag colors will be shown on the tower for about 5 seconds. Latvia's flag colors will thus be visible approximately 7 times each hour during the evening.
Latvia will be sending 35 athletes to the Winter Olympics, competing in 9 sports, including bobsleigh, skeleton, luge, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, speed skating, figure skating, short-track and biathlon.
save the date: latvian radio big band at dizzy's club coca cola - january 8,2018
The acclaimed Latvian Radio Big Band will perform at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola on January 8, 2018. Two concerts are planned, at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Seating is limited, so please book early.
When: Monday, January 8, 2018, 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm
Where: Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, 10 Columbus Circle, corner of Broadway and 60th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
To book your seats, please click here.
There is no charge to reserve places, but a min. $10 cover charge for food & beverages on the night, paid at the end of the evening.
Kristaps porzingis appears on the jimmy fallon show - november 30, 2017
Latvian basketballer and NY Knick star Kristaps Porzingis got good news Thursday November 30 on his right ankle, a negative MRI exam as the Knicks expected, according to sources. Hence, the show went on.
Porzingis made his scheduled appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Thursday. It was a six-minute segment that started with a standing ovation and during which nothing about his horrifying ankle scare Wednesday was raised.
However, Fallon delved into Porzingis’ nickname — the unicorn — accurately explaining it was Kevin Durant who branded him that during his rookie season.
Fallon is a big Knicks fan — or at least pretends to be as a regular guest on celebrity row across the years.
For more information about Kristaps Porzingis, click here.
Source: NY Post and Youtube.
latvia celebrates 99 years since becoming a republic on november 18, 1918
Happy Birthday Latvia ! Today is 99 years since Latvia was proclaimed as a republic on November 18, 1918.
The next 12 months will see Latvians all around the world celebrate Latvia's centenary, culminating on November 18, 2018. For more information about Latvia's centenary, please visit www.lv1100.lv.
Violinist Gidon Kremer Shares 24 Soviet Snapshots – NY Times , November 1st, 2017
By CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM
The centenary of the Russian Revolution has sparked a flurry of commentary on how and why the Soviet Union was born. On Tuesday the Baryshnikov Arts Center presented a program that reflected on what it was like to be alive inside of it. Subtle and sparse, the hourlong show pairing music by the Soviet composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg with black-and-white images by the Lithuanian photographer Antanas Sutkus delivered a lingering emotional charge.
The program, “Preludes to a Lost Time (Imaginary Dialogues),” was conceived by the Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer. For some years he has championed the music of Weinberg (1919-1996), a Polish-born composer from Shostakovich’s inner circle, whose darkly lucid music is beginning to gain wider recognition. In recent seasons audiences as far afield as in Berlin, Madrid, Houston and New York had a chance to experience his harrowing Holocaust-themed opera “The Passenger.”
With Weinberg’s 24 Preludes, Mr. Kremer turned the spotlight on Weinberg’s skill as a miniaturist, capable of conjuring potent moods in condensed, abstract form. These snapshots — most last less than two minutes — were written for unaccompanied cello. Mr. Kremer transcribed them for solo violin and performed them with focus and clarity.
Each Prelude is a study in dialectics with seemingly irreconcilable ideas made to share a claustrophobically small space. Melodic fragments appear at the extreme low and high registers of the instrument; a phrase rendered in lumberjack-brawny full tone is answered by skittish scratches; a lyrical rumination comes up against a dead-end of dry-rubber plucked notes. And though the tension is never really resolved, there is something hopeful and generous in the drama of trying — 24 times in a row.
Some of the magnanimity of the original version is lost in Mr. Kremer’s translation. After all, the cello is better equipped to express both the depths and the heights of human experience, the bass and the treble of the human vocal range. Maintaining the four-octave reach of Weinberg’s Preludes sometimes pushes the violin close to dog-whistle territory.
But with his choice of visual material Mr. Kremer taps into a different expressive register. Many of Mr. Sutkus’s photographs hum with the same tension as Weinberg’s music: An image of a mother and child sitting on a bench in the sea, their legs outstretched against the motion of the waves, expresses all the exhilaration of a shared moment bracing the elements of nature.
One prelude, which sounds like a Sarabande haunted by the ghost of Bach, was accompanied by an image of a sacred statue propped up against a wall, half held by a young woman. The image was displayed only for what seemed like a second or two before fading, but the disorienting sense of reversal, of the divine sustained by the human, continued to develop in the dark as the searching music played on.
As the afterimage of each projected photograph lingered, burned into the viewer’s retina, the performance seemed to speak of the difficulty in making sense of a chapter of history known increasingly by the shadow it left behind.
To see the review, please click here.
bank of latvia - october 2017 - monthly report
In this month’s Monthly Report, the Bank of Latvia looks at recent trends in inflation, exports and import and money supply. The key highlights are:
In September, annual inflation declined to 2.9%. The monthly inflation was negligible, i.e. 0.3%. Overall, the strongest upward pressure on annual inflation was exerted by the rising energy prices, whereas the fall in unprocessed food (cereals, vegetables, etc.) prices had a downward effect. Moreover, the year-on-year changes in inflation reflected atypical seasonal developments observed for footwear and clothing. International tourism likewise saw lower average prices than those charged during the previous years. These developments could be explained by higher household propensity to save, as suggested by the latest consumer confidence survey of the European Commission. The growth of core inflation can be viewed as stable and there is no reason for any comparisons with the demand-side-induced economic overheating observed in the years preceding the crisis.
As the global economy picks up, the sustained growth in Latvia's main trading partners and rising global prices have continued to foster Latvian exports. August was the tenth consecutive month when the annual growth in exports and imports of goods was positive, i.e.8.5% and 21.2% respectively. In the first eight months of this year, the uptrend in exports of goods was ensured by both the increase in actual volumes and price rises. Re-exports have also picked up this year, whereas the greatest positive contributor was domestically produced goods. Year-on- year, a positive rise in exports was retained in almost all groups of goods. Meanwhile, growth in imports accompanies development of exports and the renewed private investment activity.
Over the last few months, discussions have been raised about the potential movement of the Latvian economy towards overheating. While certain signs of heating up have indeed surfaced on the supply side, the demand-side factors do not yet suggest such developments, which is also confirmed by the dynamics of the monetary aggregates.
Even though new loans increased in August, the size of the loan portfolio has remained practically unchanged and its annual rate of change has also been standing close to zero for quite some time now, with loans to non-financial corporations and households growing by 0.4% and –1.0% respectively. Therefore, loans should not be viewed as a factor significantly affecting money supply. While deposits with banks did rise slightly faster due to the inflows of investment and European Union funds as well as due to an expansion of exports, the increase was only 2.7% in August year-on-year.
Please click here for the full report.
mobile passport station in new york - october 13-14-2017
Citizens of Latvia can have their passports renewed on that day (or apply for a new passport on that day if they already have a Latvian citizenship number).
To attend this passport renewal in NYC, you must complete an application form to get an appointment time on the day. No walk-ins will be accepted.
You must send your appointment application to the Embassy in Washington no later than October 8, 2017. See attached form (at the end of this news item). Please fax or email to the Embassy (not to us). Fax: + 1 202 328 2860, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Embassy will then advise you of your appointment day and time.
The passport appointments will take place at:
Mission of Latvia to the United Nations
333 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022
For further details please visit the Embassy's website here.
president of latvia attends the opening of the 72ND u.n. general assembly - september 2017
The President of Latvia, H.E. Raimonds Vejonis attended the opening of the 72nd UN General Assembly during his visit to NYC September 18-20. On September 20 President Vejonis participated in the morning session of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, in the afternoon addressed the UN General Assembly, and in the evening meet with members of NY’s Latvian community.
Seen here from the left, H.E. Raimonds Vejonis and H.E. Janis Mazeilks, Latvia's Ambassador to the UN.
mikhail baryshinkov becomes a latvian citizen - april 27, 2017
New York-based world-famous dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov will become a Latvian citizen after the Latvian parliament, Saeima, voted to grant him a passport April 27.
Speaking in the debate about granting citizenship, Ilmars Latkovskis of the National Alliance, who heads the Saeima's commission dealing with citizenship issues, said that the commission "saw no reason to prevent the award of citizenship" and that Baryshnikov's fame would help spread the name of Latvia in the world.
But the central question according to Latkovskis was whether Baryshnikov was "one of us" - a question to which he repeatedly answered "Yes" in urging deputies to vote for the award of citizenship.
They duly did so by 84 votes to zero, then broke into a round of applause.
Baryshnikov was present to watch the vote. Sporting a Latvian flag in his lapel, he was presented with flowers at the conclusion of the vote.
Baryshnikov also holds US citizenship, but dual citizenship is now permissible with NATO member countries. Though a naturalization process is usually required to acquire citizenship, Saeima can grant citizenship in cases of "special merit" for people judged to have acted for the good of Latvia.
Baryshnikov was born in Riga (in 1948) and wrote in a letter (to the government) expressing his warm feelings towards Latvia and the seriousness with which he would treat citizenship if it was offered.
He has also expressed his desire to get more involved in the land of his birth by helping to develop grassroots arts projects.
Baryshnikov was handed his passport during a special ceremony in the afternoon at which he recounted his memories of growing up in Latvia and feeling "the sand of Jurmala and the cobblestones of Riga beneath my feet."
"When the invitation arrived from the Latvian government to take honorary citizenship, I thought what an experience it would be to return to my childhood, no longer as an outsider, but as someone who belonged - to visit my mother's grave and honor those I loved," Baryshnikov told his audience of politicians from all parties and reporters.
"I have never forgotten anything," he said before reading a poem by Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, the subject of one of his recent stage shows, in Russian.
With his new passport tucked into the breast pocket of his smart grey suit, he was then surrounded by politicians from all political parties, eager to have their photographs taken with the country's newest and possibly best-known citizen.
To read more about New York-based Mikhail Baryshnikov, please click here.
News source: www.lsm.lv and latvia.eu
latvia is an attractive place for foreign investment says john kerry, former u.s. sceretary of state - march 21, 2017
Latvia is an attractive place to invest money and has great potential for foreign investment, in an interview to Latvian news agency LETA said former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in Riga this week to learn more about the situation in Latvia and to consider opportunities to invest there.
Kerry, who is considering opportunities to engage in business and to become an investor arrived in Riga because he views this part of the world having huge potential, which to date has been only partially realized. “It is growing faster than the rest of Europe," said the former U.S. diplomat, expressing the view that people are looking at places like Latvia, where the government is forward-looking, has a good political structure and labor market, and good opportunities for trade in the European Union and beyond. "Your export performance is growing, manufacturing output is rising. If I'm not mistaken, industrial production is up by 5.5%/yr, the growth in GDP is faster than the rest of Europe. Consequently, this looks like a place where something is happening and the possibilities are real”, explained the former U.S. Secretary of State.
Kerry believes that Latvia has a number of advantages compared with other countries. "You have a strong education system. You have a labor force that is prepared and willing to work. You are a European Union (EU) member state, which is important given the rules and standards in reliability and transparency which that entails. And you have the will and determination to succeed. These are essential prerequisites for a viable market economy " said the former US Secretary of State.
He also recalls the history of Latvia. "It is part of the Hanseatic League tradition, having been its capital city. Latvia has already given the world an example in the choices that were made in 1991 and remains firmly committed to our shared values. People have a need to learn more about Latvia as well as Lithuania and Estonia. For you have defended your ground against the threat of a dark shadow, something not everyone really around the world appreciates. In my opinion, you have strength of character, something you can be proud of, "said Kerry.
Kerry observes that around the world a lot of money is lying idle, is not being used or is even losing value. As a result, people are currently re-thinking their investment approach and concluding that waiting is not the best approach. "Instead, if invested it, could get higher returns - perhaps is not as exciting as say Snapchat - but in something that real and productive," concludes former US politician.
He agrees that the United States investors' interest in the Baltic region has increased. This is also underpinned by the US and NATO provided security guarantees. "I think we can speak of changes in the security environment. One has to note here the decision made two years ago by President Barack Obama to boost US support for European security, quadrupling support for front-line countries to 3.4 billion dollars. We started the security enhancment with cooperation with Poland, then Canada with Latvia, then Germany and the United Kingdom with the other Baltic countries. This, together with support from Democrats and Republicans, the President [Donald] Trump and President Obama's support, in my opinion, results in a more unified NATO commitment. The US Defense Secretary James Matiss and others have clearly talked about supporting Article 5 (of the NATO Treaty). In my view, this helps to calm things down a little and gives people a sense of security, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve, "says Kerry.
The former Secretary of State also recognizes the linkage between investment and the challenges of the current geopolitical environment because today economic policy and foreign policy are intrinsically connected - investment strengthens a country and the current geo-political situation promotes more focus on security. Leading the US State Department, he tried to encourage other countries to prosper. "I emphasized the importance of foreign policy to economic policy. Conversely, because nowadays they are inseparable. If you look at the" Arab spring", what’s transpired in Ukraine, people everywhere want accountability, transparency, economic opportunities and people do not want to corrupt companies to steal their the future, "said Kerry.
Kerry did not disclose any planned investments in Latvia, but during his visit to Riga, he wants to learn more as to whether "Latvia together with their neighbors can become stronger, increase prosperity, which is one of the main pillars in the fight against evil and instability." "I am here to get a view from the inside of what the situation is today, what are the needs and expectations are for the future," said Kerry.
As reported, Kerry on Monday arrived in Latvian for a two-day visit. The purpose of the visit is to gain a better understanding of the economic environment and business sentiment in Latvia, as well as to emphasize the importance of American investment in the region.
Kerry during his visit will meet with Latvian businessmen, foreign investment organizations and government officials, including Prime Minister Maris Kučinskis, the Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozols, representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia (AMCHAM), Foreign Investors Council in Latvian and Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA).
The visit and meetings were coordinated by Citadele, a leading Latvian bank now owned by a group of U.S. investors, headed by Ripplewood Holdings.
Source: LETA, March 21, 2017 and www.diana.lv
Dual citizenship - how to apply, who is eligible - faq
Here is a quick summary on the changes to Latvia’s Citizenship Law that took effect October 1st, 2013. These changes allow eligible people (who already have citizenship of another country) to also register as a Latvian citizen. That is, have dual citizenship. Please read on to see if you can apply and how to do this.
In summary, there are 3 categories under which one may apply for Latvian citizenship:
Exciles (those who were forced to leave Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990 due to foreign occupation) and their descendants who were born (and will have been born) by October 1, 2014
Latvia citizenship can be requested by those who were citizens of Latvia on June 17, 1940 and who fled occupation and left Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990, and for this reason did not return to Latvia, as well as their descendants, who will be born by October 1, 2014. Dual citizenship is allowed with any other country!
At the time of your birth at least one of your parents was a citizen of Latvia
In this case dual citizenship is allowed for those who are citizens of the member states of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), NATO or if you are a citizen of Australia, Brazil or New Zealand (children are eligible for dual citizenship with any country, but at age 25 will have to make a choice).
You are an ethnic Latvian or Liv
In requesting citizenship based on your ethnic origin you will be required to pass a language exam in Latvia. You are allowed to maintain dual citizenship with any other country!
If you wish to apply, what are the required steps?
First, decide under which category you are eligible (and/or members of your family, children, grandchildren).
Second, complete the relevant application form(s) (which are available on the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (www.pmlp.gov.lv) website. You will also need to include all supporting documents required in your application. The application form needs to be completed in Latvian (no exceptions). If you need assistance, the Consulate can help with this form (however, we do not process any applications for citizenship - only assist with translations and related questions). Note, if you are applying for yourself, consider at the same time applying for any other family members who might also be eligible for dual citizenship (like your son/daughter, grandchildren). It is much more efficient to apply for everyone at the same time in a family, using all your documents once for everyone in your family).
Third, send your application and application fee to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C.
Embassy of Latvia, 2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008,
Tel +1-202-328-2840; +1-202-328-2881; +1-202-328-2882,
The current application fee is USD 50.00 (payable only by Money Order, to "Embassy of Latvia"). Note: if you are sending in any original U.S. documents (U.S. birth certificate, U.S, marriage certificate etc.), then these original documents will need to have an Apostille stamp on them (issued to you by your local Office of the Department of State). To have your original documents returned to you, please include an additional fee of $20 (USPS return mail) or $30 (for FedEx) with your application to the Embassy.
The Consular Section in Washington will review your application to see if everything is in order before sending it to Riga. If your application is successful, then you will be notified in writing by the PMLP in Riga (to your mailing address and/or email address). This typically takes 1 month for children of Latvian citizens; up to 4 months for Latvian exciles and descendants; and up to one year for all other applications.
Once you have been granted Citizenship, you will be eligible to apply for a Latvian passport.
Note, you can also send your application direct to the PMLP in Riga (without the assistance of the Embassy of Latvia in Washington). However, you are then responsible to ensure that all your documentation is 100% correct and complete. Incomplete/incorrect applications will be returned and have to be refiled.
pension eligibility for latvian nationals living in the usa - faq
Who is eligible for pension from the Republic of Latvia?
Persons who have reached 62 years and 9 month of age as of January 1, 2016 and have no less than 15 years period of social payments are eligible for a Latvian state pension.
According to the current Latvian legislation, a pension is granted for those Latvian nationals who left Latvia as pensioners before October 1st, 2013. An eligible person who is living in US and receiving a Latvian pension will have to submit to the Social Security Insurance Agency department (each year during the period 1st of October – 15th of December) a written claim for continued payment of a pension, sending it by mail or submitting it by the mediation of an authorized person. A notarial certification (prepared no later than one month before submitting the claim which testifies that the recipient of the pension is alive) has to be attached to the claim.
Pensions can be received at the place of residence or in the bank account or at postal office only in the Republic of Latvia. (i.e. the U.S. based Latvian national receiving the pension would then have to remit such monies to a bank account here in the U.S.).
Last year the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs proposed possible amendments to the current pension regulations for those Latvian nationals who left Latvia whilst at the time not being pensioners. Unfortunately to date there have not been any concrete new developments in this matter.
If you have questions regarding pensions and your eligibility to receive one whilst living here in the U.S. , please contact the Social Security Insurance Agency of the Republic of Latvia (VSAA) by phone or e-mail:
VSAA, Rīgas pilsētas Zemgales reģionālā nodaļa, Mārupes 1, Rīga, LV-1002,
Phone number: +371-67600653