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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


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Russians Pour Cash Into Banks Of Latvia

RIGA, Latvia -- When Vladimir Zhirinovsky rants and raves, Estonians and Lithuanians tremble. Latvians count their money. Latvia, a tiny Baltic state with a huge ethnic Russian minority, is blossoming into a destination of choice for Russian capital in flight, due to a series of aggressive banking reforms. ""We are not just the Switzerland of the former Soviet Union, we are in a position to compete with Switzerland itself as a world financial center,"" Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs told The Moscow Times in an interview. ""Russians, Belarussians and other Soviets like to bank here, because they have old ties, and they don't have a language barrier since we speak Russian,"" he said. ""When Zhirinovsky was elected, a stream of money poured into Latvia from Russia."" In January 1993, Latvian banks held deposits of about 99 million lats ($174 million); by January 1994, that figure had quintupled to 492 million lats.

Coup Trial Dismissal Defended

One day before his superiors decide whether to put the accused plotters of the August 1991 coup back on trial, a judge on Thursday defended his court's decision to abort the original court case. Lieutenant General Anatoly Ukolov, who presided over the aborted trial of 12 Soviet top officials accused of trying to overthrow then-president Mikhail Gorbachev, told a press conference that the presidium of the Military Supreme Court would meet on Friday to rule whether to grant an appeal by the Public Prosecutor's Office for a new trial. Ukolov and his fellow judges on the Supreme Court decided to end the trial this month after the State Duma granted an amnesty for the defendants, as part of a larger amnesty adopted last month. ""This court is convinced of the correctness and wisdom of its decision to end the trial,"" Ukolov said in his first statement to the press since the trial started.

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