Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins has expressed his support for the proposal to declare Orthodox Christmas, observed on January 7th, as a public holiday in Latvia. The idea belongs to a Latvian Cabinet member. In an interview to Latvian radio on Friday, the Premier said the matter was not within his jurisdiction and that it was up to parliament to decide whether the move should be made or not. According to official statistics, Orthodox Christians account for 18.9 percent of Latvia's population, while a recent survey has discovered that over 21 percent of the country's residents adhere to Orthodoxy. Politicians say making Orthodox Christmas a day off for the working Latvians would promote the country's societal integration. But many observers qualify this as an election maneuver of ruling parties, seeking to get the votes of ethnic Russian voters in the parliamentary ballot scheduled for this next fall.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea