The Latvian army can not conduct a military exercise on the only one range ground on the outskirts of Riga. Military men can not start exercises because of hundreds of mushroom collectors, who have inundated the area around the range, looking for mushrooms. Some of them drive their cars to the woods around the range, completely ignoring the military men.
Military men do their best not to let mushroom collectors gain entry to the range during the shooting practice. Several hours before the practice starts, they encircle the range and attract road and military police officers to it too. They move military vehicles in the area, with soldiers using loud-speakers requesting mushroom collectors (in both Russian and Latvian) not to enter the range. Military men even asked television for help, but it did not bring any results.
As a result, it was not possible to hold all scheduled military exercises and shooting practices. At times, military men managed to train for about half an hour, until a group of mushroom collectors appeared on the range. Army officers complain, there is no opportunity to punish the collectors: local laws do not have any rules to prohibit picking mushrooms near military training grounds. Military officials urge the authorities to change the law - otherwise, the situation may negatively affect the military efficiency of the armed forces.
There are less than 5,000 soldiers serving in the Latvian army. The army does not have any defense technology: just three tanks, several airplanes and helicopters. However, the Latvian Navy has 18, albeit small-tonnage vessels.
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