RIGA, Latvia — The yellowing pages of the thick guestbook at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia read like a song of praise for Latvian self-determination and express a narrative of condemnation directed at the two regimes — Nazi and Soviet — to which this country fell during World Wa­­r II. But hidden among the expressions of admiration for Latvia’s struggle are entries written in Russian attesting to a different interpretation of the country’s recent past. “It’s not peoples that occupy but political regimes,” a visi

Eastern Europe

Russia doubles down on its soft power vehicles to win the information war against the West.

Russia has launched a new international multimedia information agency Sputnik that plans to broadcast in 30 languages including Estonian and Latvian.  In 2015, Sputnik intends to broadcast over 800 hours of radio programming a day, covering over 130 cities and 34 countries.

Latvia is joining Lithuania in banning Russian state television broadcasts because it found that several programs about the Ukraine crisis were tendentious and not in the Baltic nation’s security interests.

The overall medal count obscures how these small countries are outperforming their rivals in 2014.Judging by the overall tally at the Sochi Olympics, the Netherlands is currently ahead of all other nations with 17 total medals. The United States and Russia are tied for a close second with 16 medals each. 

Treknie gadi (the fat years) – tas jums tiešām ir jāzina (that one you really have to know),” said the Latvian teacher, and, for the next two hours, our language class dissected those two words. We read in Latvian about Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis and his famous 2005 speech to the nation promising a modern incarnation of Jacob’s biblical prophecy of seven ‘fat years’ of prosperity followed by seven years of hardship. We learned pārpalikums (surplus) and dižkibele (global financial crisis).

Diplomacy, like negotiation and card playing, is an old, traditional ‘art’. To succeed at all three, the player needs an edge over his or her opponents, an edge based on preparation, confidence and cultural acuity. The more you know going in, the greater your chances of ultimate success.

April 4, 2011

At our last week’s discussion on nation branding we asked a question: “What do we tell the world about Latvia with love and pride?” And it was worth listening to the answers. Why?