Monday, December 29, 2008

Latvians ask oligarch to buy their country

I'm assuming that this was meant as a joke, but you never can tell these days...

More than 400 Latvians have signed an online petition asking Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to buy their country.

Latvia has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, its economy has taken the biggest hit in all of Europe; Latvia's gross domestic product fell by more than 4% in the last quarter alone. The country is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a loan of nearly $11 billion to prop up its ailing economy. Some Latvians though would apparently rather take the money from Mr. Abramovich (he could afford it, his net wealth is estimated at about $23 billion and the world famous Chelsea football club is among his many holdings).

The petition says that the Latvian people "are hard working and pleasant," and that the country is an "environmentally clean area [with] plenty of space to dock your yacht."

Strangely enough this isn't the first time there's been talk about buying a country recently.

Last month Mohamed Nasheed, the newly elected president of the Maldives islands, set up a fund to one day buy a new homeland for his nation's 300,000 citizens. The Maldives are a group of more than 1,000 small islands in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately the average elevation of the Maldives is about four and a half feet. Even a relatively small rise in ocean levels due to global warming would make large parts of the archipelago uninhabitable.

So Nasheed is diverting a portion of the profits from the country's billion dollar tourist industry into a sovereign wealth fund to one day buy a new homeland, land in Sri Lanka or India is being considered because of the similarities in the cultures, though Australia is also an option because of the wide stretches of open land there.

"We do not want to leave the Maldives, Nasheed said, "but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades."
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