Tuesday, November 20, 2007

32 million reasons to visit Ireland

Well last weekend saw a multitude of events, principal amongst them was the celebrations held across Latvia to celebrate their Independence Day, dating from 1919, when for the first time an independent Latvia was declared. In Riga both formal and informal activities took place, the largest being the military parade was held on 11 Novembris iela, in front of the President of Latvia and other dignatories.

In the Riga old town the celebrations were of a lighter note with concerts being held in many of the squares.

However I did come across one strange artifact which appeared outside Congress Nams, a huge great Red Rabbit ! - Now what this had to do with the celebrations I have no idea, don't even know if it was connected, but it certainly became the star attraction for many of the children.

For my part my celebrations were restricted to the village lounge on both Saturday and Sunday, to watch (a) Rugby and (b) Scotland v Italy. Suffice to say that the Rugby was most enjoyable and the football was just a smidgen disappointing, and that Scottish result allied to Israels win over Russia to provide a lifeline to England, frankly confirmed my view that life can be singularly unfair. Not that I am biased but I will not be crying if England fail to beat Croatia on Wednesday.

The Rugby attendees included the usual fraternity J...(Irish - builder of des res), J....(Australian - wood consultant to the world) and myself, alongwith half of Riga youth full Russian population. The latter being there to support Russia in the game against Israel.

So on a weekend to celebrate Latvia's Independence, I have no doubt that every bar in Riga was crammed full of young Russians supporting mother Russia. Now as these young men and women have no doubt been born and raised in Latvia, it call into question just where there loyalties lie - does it not.

Monday night being the last night of the holiday, saw yet again venture into the village lounge, only to find it was closed, and so I retired to the downstairs bar, to be met with two rather glum looking Australian persons. One being a village member J.... (Australian/Latvian - with high consular credentials) and a young visiting Australian based in London.

It transpired the reason for the gloomy looks was that a friend of the young Australian had chosen to visit that well know establishment La Rocca, and as ever "had done nothing" when three bouncers having seen him "do nothing" chose to beat the s..t out of him. The local constabulary then arrived on the scene and duly arrested the Australian, presumably on a public disorder charge, and duly banged him up for the weekend. So J... (Australian/Latvian aforementioned) had spent his weekend vainly trying to visit him (failed), get him released (failed). So in the great tradition of diplomats all over the world, having been unsuccessful in his endeavors, he retired the local hostelry to refresh himself. But as I have said many time before if you choose to visit these types of establishment, then be aware of the consequences of your behavior, even if innocently carried out, as the "minders" have no qualms about dishing out physical violence.

Now in the local press this weekend was this illuminating article

"Irish customs seizes smokes from 30 on Rīga flight
An estimated 250,000 cigarettes, carried by up to 30 passengers on one flight from Rīga, were seized Nov. 6 by Irish customs officials at Dublin airport.

Customs officials described the smuggling operation as “highly organized,” Irish Revenue said in a press release. The couriers each carried 5,000 or more cigarettes.

No one was arrested. The L&M and Marlboro brand cigarettes had a street value of EUR 85,000 with an estimated potential loss of EUR 68,750 in taxes.

The seizures arose as a result of intelligence and profiling, an Irish Revenue spokeswoman told Latvians Online. The customs service’s “Operation Swift” targeted passengers arriving from Rīga.

It is not the first time smugglers from Latvia have tried to bring contraband cigarettes into Ireland. In March, for example, customs officials seized 1.4 million cigarettes valued at EUR 483,000 from passengers arriving during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. In May, 46-year-old Sandra Piruska of Latvia was arrested at the airport with 17,200 cigarettes in her baggage.

Arrivals from Latvia into Ireland are allowed to bring only 200 cigarettes for personal use, according to Irish Revenue.

Of the 32 million cigarettes seized so far this year from passengers arriving from the Baltic states, more than half—17 million—were carried on flights from Rīga. The total seized represents a retail value of EUR 11.6 million and a potential loss of revenue of EUR 8.8 million, Irish Revenue said."Do you think there is some enterprising Latvians / Irish trying to make a some money out of the cigarette prices in Latvia and the other Baltic States ?
Now moving onto other irrelevant facts, but keeping an Australian Feel, the next article

"Australians with Latvian ancestry top 20,000

The number of people claiming Latvian ancestry in Australia has increased over five years and now tops 20,000, with females outnumbering males by 1,000, according to new census results.

A total of 20,058 people claimed Latvian ancestry in the 2006 census, according to results reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Of those, 10,529 were female and 9,529 were male.

In 2001, a total of 18,938 persons claimed Latvian ancestry.

Broken down by states, census results show that New South Wales had the largest population with Latvian ancestry, a total of 5,879, followed by Victoria (5,771), South Australia (2,933), Queensland (2,610), Western Australia (1,792), the Australian Capital Territory (603), Tasmania (331) and the Northern Territory (145). Of the country’s major cities, Melbourne had the largest Latvian ancestral population with 4,609"

But according to beloved Australian Acting consul there are only 52 Australians living in Latvia, so not a lot then. Now as I seem to be on an Australian bent, the next is a first for me (if it works) and a first for J.... (Gate mender and now video star) . You have to wait a bit before he appears ! If the video does not work then visit www.workpermit.com/video/player.htm

And finally a question of the week

What senior village personage, with Waltzing Matilda credentials, and a penchant for rescuing destitute Antipodeans, dines and has takeaways from one of Riga finer dining establishments, specialising in haute cuisine hamburgers and pomme frites - Hesburger ?

A clue his hairstyle bears a passing resemblance to Oor Wullie ( this is only a help to those of a Scottish persuasion and who read the Sunday Post in the distant past !)


Anonymous S...... said...

...red rabbit is advert for new SONY Bravia TV...

S....(Ukrainian with worst taste of music)

12:53 am  

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