Latvia: fireworks and toasts at 11:00 local time
In Latvia more and more people are celebrating the New Year according to Moscow time. They watch Putin's address on television and clink glasses and let off fireworks at eleven o'clock local time. This bothers a lot of people, especially when such a party is held in the National Library in Riga, as it was this year. Latvia's commentators explain where the phenomenon of celebrating the New Year early comes from.
Emotional ties with Moscow must finally be severed
Russian television's influence in Latvia must finally be capped, the daily paper Diena demands:
“The fact that many here in Latvia let off their fireworks according to Moscow time when the bells of the Kremlin ring on the television is normal - even though many Latvians get upset about it because it is a symbol of the Soviet occupation. These emotional ties with our neighbouring country among a section of the population would have been severed long ago if they were not kept alive artificially by the Russian TV channels. And Latvia is doing nothing about it. For most Russians living in Latvia daily life revolves around the information space on Russian television. … Our politicians should finally end years of debate about yet another Russian TV channel and focus on narrowly defining the national interests in the information space.”
Kremlin bells are good for business
Events like the party in Latvia's National Library come as no big surprise for Neatkarīga:
“Russian-style New Year's Eve parties are nothing new for Latvia. Supply and demand is one of the fundamental laws of trade. This is nothing unusual. The guests want Kremlin bells? Let them have them! And if the guests want the event to be held in Russian, let them have that too. This is all entirely understandable: people who want to celebrate Victory Day on May 9 also want to celebrate the new year with Putin. Even if the festivities take place in the National Library. They pay plenty to rent the location and the moderator of the event gets a juicy fee. And the money doesn't stink of the Kremlin. It's just a few hours of embarassment in exchange for good food and drink and money in our pockets!”