Das Siegesdenkmal – lett.: Uzvaras Piemineklis – im Stadtteil Āgenskalns in Rīga weckt komplett unterschiedliche Assoziationen von Letten und Russen bezüglich des Endes des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Die Letten sehen in diesem Denkmal eine Provokation, denn während der Zeit der Sowjetischen Okkupation verschwanden Tausende Letten in den sibirischen Gulags. Seit dem 24. Februar steht dieses Denkmal auch für den verbrecherischen Angriffskrieg der russischen Armee auf die Ukraine. Sie hätten dieses Denkmal am liebsten schon lange nicht mehr vor Augen. Für die Russen ist das Siegesdenkmal ein Symbol der Befreiung Lettlands von der Deutschen Wehrmacht und dem Faschismus. Es ist der zentrale Identifikationspunkt der russischen Minderheit, die immerhin etwa 25 Prozent der Bevölkerung Lettlands ausmacht.
Torņakalns is a neighborhood of the Latvian Capital Rīga at the left bank of the Daugava River. The former name, when Rīga was still under the administration of the Baltic Germans, was Thorenzberg. We don’t have a better story, but perhaps the district’s name derives from a tower that stood opposite the Rīga Fortress and was meant to protect them from an enemy takeover. The district of Torņakalns is located directly opposite the old town. There is no better story. Thorenzberg was probably named after a watchtower from medieval. In fact, there was a high watchtower here, which warned the city and fortress of Riga of advancing enemies. And also in fact, the border to the Polish ruled Courland was only a few kilometers west. Torņakalns today has about 7.400 inhabitants and the population density is about 2.400 inhabitants per square kilometer. Torņakalns borders the neighborhoods of Āgenskalns, Ziepniekkalns, Atgāzene and Bieriņi.
Von der einstigen Festung Rīga sind heute kaum noch Reste erhalten. Die einst imposanten Festungsanlagen wurden im Wesentlichen nach dem Krimkrieg zwischen 1857 und 1863 geschleift, die Zitadelle nordöstlich der Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela etwa zwei Jahrzehnte später. Einen Eindruck von den früheren Ausmaßen der Festung Rīga und der Zitadelle kann man aber auch heute noch während eines ausgedehnten Spazierganges entlang des Stadtkanals vom Busbahnhof am Zentralmarkt an der Centrāltirgus iela über die Prāgas iela, die Radio iela, den Zigfrīda Annas Meierovica bulvāris, den Kronvalda bulvāris bis zum Passagierhafen an der Eksporta iela gewinnen.
Der Krimkrieg führte dem russischen Kaiserhaus die wirtschaftliche und militärische Unterlegenheit gegenüber den westeuropäischen Großmächten deutlich vor Augen. Im Jahre 1856 genehmigte der russische Kaiser Alexander II. Der russische Kaiser Alexander II. Nikolajewitsch übernahm die Regentschaft während des Krimkrieges. Als Folge der Niederlage im Krimkrieg und der hohen Reparationsleistungen führte er für russische Verhältnisse umfangreiche Reformen, wie etwa die Aufhebung der Leibeigenschaft der Bauern, durch. Zumindest in einigen Städten des Russischen Reiches – so auch in Rīga – kam es in Folge der Reformen zu einer starken Industrialisierung.
Die Mitsommersonnenwende ist ganz sicher das wichtigste Fest in Lettland. Am Kap Kolka – hier treffen die vergleichsweise raue Ostsee und der ruhige Meerbusen von Rīga aufeinander – leben noch ein paar hundert Menschen, die dem Stamm der Liven angehören. Kap Kolka ist vor allem im Sommer ein magischer Ort, denn es ist der einzige in Lettland, von wo aus man sowohl den Sonnenaufgang als auch den Sonnenuntergang im Meer beobachten kann. Dann verbringen die Bewohner des Dofes Kolka – und mit ihnen zahlreiche Besucher – die kürzeste Nacht des Jahres in der Natur. Die Produktion von arte ist bis mindestens 19. Juli 2021 zu sehen. Das Video von ARTE ist nicht mehr verfügbar. Stattdessen sehen Sie vom MRD den selben Inhalt.
The National Guard of the Republic of Latvia – the Zemessardze – is an army made up entirely of volunteers. Today it has a little over 10,000 members. Its history is closely linked to the breakup of Latvia from the former occupying power of the Soviet Union. The Republic of Latvia, which had declared itself independent, saw the need for a militarily organized force for protection within the country in 1991 after the fighting over the barricades in Rīga and the Soviet OMON’s command of the Latvian border stations with several border guards killed. Today the Zemessardze also takes on general disaster control tasks. The following youtube video is performed by a handful of cool Latvian kids and Antra Stafecka and the Zemessardze.
Lufthansa and airBaltic have announced that they will be using common code shares for their flights from March 28, 2021. According to a press release from airBaltic dated February 16, 2021, the agreement initially applies to the routes between Munich, Vilnius and Riga. The code share agreement is a good thing for both airlines and customers. Lufthansa has a global network of flight connections, while airBaltic is particularly active in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe. If we are ever allowed to travel normally again, that will give us as customers more connections between Munich and the Baltic capitals.
The National Guard of the Republic of Latvia – the Zemessardze – is an army made up entirely of volunteers. Today it has a little over 10,000 members. Its history is closely linked to the breakup of Latvia from the former occupying power of the Soviet Union. The Republic of Latvia, which had declared itself independent, saw the need for a militarily organized force for protection within the country in 1991 after the fighting over the barricades in Rīga and the Soviet OMON’s command of the Latvian border stations with several border guards killed. Today the Zemessardze also takes on general disaster control tasks.
Nach dem Ende des für Russland verlorenen Krimkrieges 1856 entwickelte sich Rīga innerhalb weniger Jahre zu einem der wenigen industriellen Zentren des Riesenreiches. Mit der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung wuchs auch der Bedarf an gut ausgebildetem Personal für die Baubranche, Industriebetriebe, den Eisenbahnbau und dem Aufbau eines Telegrafennetzes. Überall wurden neben Arbeitern auch Ingenieure gebraucht. Es wurde klar, dass man in den Baltischen Ostseeprovinzen komplett auf Spezialisten aus dem Ausland angewiesen war. Rīga war bis dahin eine Kaufmann– und Handwerkerstadt – und es gab im gesamten Baltikum keine Technische Universität. Wer Ingenieurwissenschaften, Chemie oder Architektur studieren wollte, ging zumeist an die Universitäten in das deutschsprachige Kernland oder in die Schweiz. Sprachliche Barrieren gab es ja nicht.
After the end of the Crimean War, which Russia lost in 1856, Rīga developed into one of the few industrial centers of the gigantic empire within a few years. With the economic development, the need for well-trained personnel for the construction industry, industrial companies, railway construction and the establishment of a telegraph network also grew. In addition to workers, engineers were needed everywhere. It became clear that the Baltic provinces were completely dependent on specialists from abroad. Up until then, Rīga was a town of merchants and craftsmen – and there was no technical university in the entire Baltic region. Those who wanted to study engineering, chemistry or architecture mostly went to universities in the German-speaking heartland or in Switzerland. There were no language barriers.
The connection of the districts to the right and left banks of the Daugava in Rīgā has always been economically important. In the past, a pontoon bridge connected the east and west of the city. There was also the Zemgale Bridge, which was designed as a combined rail and pedestrian bridge. The Zemgale Bridge was destroyed in 1944. Therefore, in Soviet times, from 1951, the planning of a new road bridge over the Daugava, today’s Akmens tilts – stone bridge. This bridge followed the course of the pontoon bridge from the old town to the Torņakalns district.
The Vanšu Bridge was opened in July 1981. Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union at that time. The bridge was named after the Russian-Soviet writer Maxim Gorky. Technically, the bridge is still a masterpiece today. It is designed as a cable-stayed bridge with only one pylon at a height of 109 meters. At the time of its opening, it was the longest cable-stayed bridge in Europe with a length of 625 meters. The Vanšu Bridge is the northernmost of a total of 4 road bridges that cross the Daugava in the urban area of Rīgā.
The CEO of the Latvian airline and commercial pilot, Martin Gauss, is visibly enthusiastic about the Airbus A220-300. The aircraft was originally designed and built by Bombardier as the CS300. The type certification by Transport Canada took place in December 2015. airBaltic was the first customer to receive the first production aircraft at the end of November 2016. However, Bombardier ran into financial difficulties due to high development costs and delays in the project. After a sale of the CS300 to the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer failed, Airbus had a majority of 75% in this aircraft program by 2020. The Canadian province of Québec holds the remaining 25%.
Because of the corona crisis and the resulting ban on operations, which lasted 62 days, the Latvian airline airBaltic had to accept severe losses in sales and passenger numbers in the first half of 2020. This is shown by the quarterly figures published on Wednesday, August 26th, 2020. In the first half of 2020, sales fell from € 219.5 million in the same period of 2019 to € 82.5 million. The number of passengers fell from 2.2 million to 800,000 over the same period. The loss amounts to € 184.8 million in the first half of 2020 compared to € 26.6 million in the first half of 2019. airBaltic is a stock corporation that is now slightly more than 96 percent owned by the Latvian state due to corona factors.
The Latvian airline airBaltic is postponing the acquisition of new A220 NEO aircraft. It is also the only remaining scheduled airline in the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. airBaltic currently only operates a fleet of 22 Airbus A220-300s – formerly Bombardier C-Series – on medium-haul routes. AirBaltic originally wanted to fleet 28 additional A220-300s by 2023. But then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which also hit airBaltic very hard and practically overnight. It has been revealed that airBaltic has reached an agreement with Airbus to postpone delivery of the 28 A220-30 units to 2024, likely in the hope that the air travel market will pick up again then.
Latvia has a rigid policy towards foreigners since the outbreak of COVID-19. There has never been a social lock down in this country like in Germany, but the small Baltic country has been largely free of the virus since March 2020 through border closings and operating bans for the Riga airport and a temporary ban on cross-border traffic. The number of cases of COVID-19 has therefore so far been limited. For people entering Latvia, the rule is that no more than 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants may be infected in the country of origin. Germany exceeded this threshold with 16.3 per 100,000 inhabitants last Friday.
Latvia is undoubtedly not a country for social romanticists. There is no special social assistance system for disability and the elderly. However, those who are not entitled to disability benefits and old-age pensions can, under certain circumstances, receive the basic social security benefit (Valsts sociālā nodrošinājuma pabalsts). A family or individual is only considered to be in need if the average monthly income of each family member in the past three months has been less than EUR 128.06. Social benefits are only given to those who do not have savings, possessions or other support lines. You also have to be registered as unemployed with the State Employment Agency. For people with an employment but a lower income than 64, – EURO per month, there are special regulations, such as housing subsidy or a subsidy for the purchase of food.
At a special summit on July 21, 2020, the representatives of the EU countries agreed on the largest financial package in their history in the fight against the corona economic crisis. The package comprises a total of 1.8 trillion euros – thereof 1074 billion euros for the next seven-year budget and 750 billion euros for an economic and investment program to counter the economic consequences of the pandemic crisis. For this, debts are being raised on a large scale for the 27 member states, then the money is redistributed and repaid together over decades.
The Latvian government has decided that travelers crossing the Latvian border with commercial travel companies, such as buses, ferries, trains and airlines, will be required to complete a questionnaire from July 16, 2020. See https://www.mk.gov.lv/en/content/covid-19. According to the Cabinet of Ministers, the data will be used to fight against the corona pandemic. So far, the Baltic States have survived the corona epidemic with only a few sick, although the economic damage is enormous. Travelers from countries with more than 16 sufferers per 100,000 inhabitants are still not allowed to enter or have to go into quarantine for two weeks. This quarantine will be controlled by the Latvian police.
On June 2, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of the State of Latvia decided that from June 3, 2020 the list of countries from which immigrants do not have to comply with the 14-day self-isolation will be expanded. For Latvian citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who have not visited countries other than Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia in the past 14 days. The same applies to countries with a cumulative number of 15 people per 100,000 inhabitants with Covid-19 cases within the last 14 days. Self-isolation is still a must for those arriving from countries outside the Schengen area or associated countries. Latvia is therefore following Estonia’s approach to boost tourism and economy after the crisis.
In a virtual press conference on April 22, 2020, Kaspars Rozkalns, the head of the Latvian State Investment and Development Agency LIIA, made the statement that the corona crisis will reduce exports of the small European country by 20 to 30 percent compared to to last year. At the same conference, Latvian Minister of Economy Janis Vitenbergs predicted an overall economic recession of about 8 percent. Logically, the tourism sector and automotive suppliers are particularly affected by the global economic development.
Zolitūde is a neighborhood of the Latvian capital Rīga, which is located several kilometers west of the left bank of the Daugava River, the so-called Pārdaugava. The neighborhood belongs to the suburb of Zemgale. In Zolitūde almost 20,000 people live in an area of less than 3 square kilometers. This district is mostly characterized by multi-storey apartment buildings from the 1980s shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Like all of these comparable neighborhoods in Rīga, Zolitūde was planned as a typical microrajon with schools, shops, bars and restaurants as well as administrative units. From a spatial and functional point of view, Zolitūde is generally a clearly identifiable neighborhood.
Skanste is a neighborhood in Rīga, it is located in the center of Riga, but administratively belongs to the Vidzeme suburb. It is the most modern part of the Latvian capital and is characterized by multi-storey apartment buildings. The landmark of this neighborhood are the Skanstes virsotnes – the needles of Skanste. Today there are around 12,000 people living in this area, but once it is completed there will be around 42,000. When the goals of the city planners come true, Skanste will become the economic heartbeat of Rīga and all of Latvia. The conditions are certainly not bad due to the proximity to the center and the available space.
Ziepniekkalns is a neighborhood of the city of Riga in the Zemgale district. The neighborhood is located a few kilometers west of the left bank of the Daugava River, the so called Pārdaugavā. In large parts, Ziepnikkalns is a district that was planned and built in the 1970s and 1980s. Older parts goes back to the 18th century and it was called in German language Seifenberg. The center of Ziepniekkalns is the Ēbelmuiža Park, in the eastern part of which is the thickest oak in Pārdaugava. The modern Ziepnikkalns was built as a typical microrajon with multi-storey apartment houses, shops, schools and all things of daily use. But Ziepnikkalns also consists of detached houses.
RB Rail which is responsible for the project management of the new train network Rail Baltica has signed two contracts covering the detail design phase as well as the monitoring phase. The Rail Baltica is the largest infrastructure project of the three Baltic States Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The high speed train network will connect Tallin (Estonia) and Warsaw (Poland) via Rīga (Latvia) and Kaunas (Lithuania). The project delay has been around 3 years so far. One contract covers the route between Valka on the Latvian-Estonian border to Vangaži and the other from Misa to the Latvian-Lithuanian border south of Bauska.