January 13, 2009

Back on December 8, the “center-right” government of the forner Soviet republic Latvia signed an agreement with the IMF, New Europe reported. “Both sides agreed that the Latvian budget deficit next year would not be allowed to exceed five percent of the gross domestic product,” a program that would “require agreement on exceptionally strong domestic adjustment policies and sizeable external financing, as well as broad political consensus in Latvia.” It appears that “consensus” has not arrived. Instead, Latvians have taken to the street.

An Infowars reader reports:

A riot is currently (13.01, around 22:00 EET) taking place in Riga, the capital city of Latvia. A peaceful demonstration that took place at Dome Square to convince the current government to resign gradually turned violent as protesters refused to leave the front of the parliament building.

Batons were used to clear the entrance to the building, there are reports of people trying to converse with the police only to be sprayed with tear gas.

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The Estonian Broadcasting Company reports that the speaker of the Latvian parliament, Gundars Daudze, has asked the people of Latvia to be reasonable, because he fears that the actions of the people (e. g. calling for the government to step down and announce elections early) might jeopardize the loan package from IMF and financial help from other countries.

The riot comes after one of the main banks in Latvia, Parex Banka, failed. Latvia also has a terrible credit expansion rate. The government has been unable to cut expenses in the public sector or propose any helpful solutions to the current economic crisis.

Earlier today the Associated Press reported:

Angry demonstrators turned over a police van and set it on fire, and smashed windows of government buildings in the historic Old Town district of the capital, Riga. Police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The Interior Ministry said several police officers were injured, but didn’t specify how many. It was not immediately clear if there were any arrests.

The violence erupted toward the end of a rally of around 10,000 people calling on the president to dissolve Parliament and the center-right government to resign. The clashes started as some of the protesters approached the Parliament building.

Latvians are increasingly upset about rising unemployment and unpopular reforms including tax increases and many blame the government of Ivars Godmanis for the Baltic country’s economic woes.

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