18 October 2007

The Fourth Awakening?

An estimated 5000 demonstrators gathered outside the Saeima, Latvia's Parliament, this morning, called upon to defend the rule of law by Diena, the intelligentsia, and many prominent Latvians concerned about the latest twists in the twisted course the Government has taken in the last year. Some have jumped the gun and called it a "Fourth Awakening" -- which is definitely a gross exaggeration -- but the numbers are not bad for 8.15 in the cold rain on a weekday's notice, and so I do hope that the current mood of "people power" at least signals an end to the so-called "Fourth Falling Asleep." There's a new optimism in the air, helped along by the fact that "the usual" crowd of democratic activists emitting clarion calls was joined by such figures as Georgs Andrejevs, a former Foreign Minister, and Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, a former Defense Minister -- both are now MEPs... and both were elected to the EP from parties in the ruling coalition.

Then there was the announcement by
Visvaldis Lācis. 83 years old and a veteran of the Latvian Legion, Lācis was elected to the Saeima from those "Green Rustics" I mentioned a couple of posts ago. The quintessential nationalist maverick, Lācis had a gentleman's agreement with his party -- he would always vote his conscience. With regard to "Latvia's Eliot Ness," he wasn't given that option -- even before Aleksejs Loskutovs, JD, got a hearing, Lācis was pressured into voting to get rid of him. The trouble is that the Green Rustics should have known that Lācis is not to be cowed -- Augusts Brigmanis, the man he accuses of pressuring him, said as much yesterday. I bet that the Rustics regret ever asking him to join their list. Side note -- though Lācis is quite the rightist, the fact that Loskutovs is an ethnic Russian matters not at all in this case. Cracks, cracks in the coalition, and even in the ruling party. Some Fatherlanders, too, are jumping ship.

My prediction -- this coalition's days are numbered, maybe even in single digits. To hope against hope -- may the gods grant that we get a decent Government at long last. Let the people be heard -- the only way to slay the cynicism and nihilism that infects every level of Latvian society is to get the political élite to listen. This won't be easy -- in fact, it's well nigh impossible. We are talking about people who lean out of the Parliament building's windows to give the finger to the electorate. The likeliest response to the current, feeble groundswell of fury is "the same crabs in different sacks," as always. May the groundswell grow!

The photo is from a gallery at Apollo. The sign reads: "All animals are equal, but pigs are more equal than others." The Prime Minister here is often likened to a pig -- Cūkmens is based upon Betmens, "Batman"; cūka means "pig." Orwell's Animal Farm saw its first appearance in the Soviet Union in Avots, a magazine published in occupied Latvia during the Third Awakening.

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Blogger Pierre said...

I come to Latvia for some well earned R&R and all heck breaks loose!.. What the f...?!?...

Interesting times indeed. I'm trying to get a sense of this from the people around me, but they seem to be somewhat apathetic - one load of sh!t for another... I try to be an optimist...

Did I hear the Prez say there was no need to disolve the current parliament at this time? That was Friday evening I think...

Thanks for the background to the images I have seen here over the weekend.


PS: Who is that Nils Usakovs I see all the time?...

21 October, 2007 01:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, after reading some things over at the Baltic Times...seems like the goal on the feds end is to try to emulate the USA under the current administration? What an excellent plan. While it's been working wonders for us I really wouldn't suggest it as a good model of government.


23 October, 2007 01:05  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

Thanks for the comments.

Pierre -- Ushakov heads Harmony Centre, called a "Russian party" but rather integrated and supposedly "moderate." (Permit me to doubt the "moderate" part -- its positions include dilution of the language and citizenship laws, and one of the member parties of the alliance is the reincarnation of the hardcore Communist Party, led by the convicted criminal who would have ruled the LSSR and coordinated repression had Gorbachev stayed in his pyjamas and Yeltsin not stood on a tank.) Ušakovs/Ushakov is a former ITAR-TASS correspondent with a degree in economics. He's young, intelligent, and articulate, at least -- his party alliance is lately number one in the ratings (in Latvia, that means it'd get a fifth of the vote maybe...).

Craig -- by "feds" you mean Americans, or the current Latvian Government? As far as what the US Ambassador said -- I completely agree with her, as does the opposition here, and what her motivation is doesn't matter that much in this context. On broader issues, here are some vaguely related musings that might interest you.

24 October, 2007 15:01  
Blogger Roland Dodds said...

Thanks for the info on these interesting developments. I know so little about Latvia and its neighbor’s politics that it borders on utter ignorance, and posts like this help me understand the region a bit.

29 October, 2007 12:34  
Blogger Pierre said...

Čau Pēteri!

I saw recent poll results on TV yesterday, or the day before. It showed TP & ZZK (I can't keep the acronym straight) with major drops in popularity, now at about 5-6% compared to 11-12% early in the summer. The big winners are SC and JL with about 12% and 11% respectively.

My wife's family is not happy with the current coalition but nor do they want SC to be in charge. Apparently there are now rumours Pābriks and the other fellow who got tossed out of cabinet (can't recall his name) are considering launching their own party. Just what Latvia needs, huh? But then, maybe this could be the alternative the people are looking for?...


29 October, 2007 16:35  

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