Opportunities and oligarchs: the privatizations of the 1990s

LTV's strand of short, historical documentaries, "The Keys to Latvian History" has another offering for you, complete with English subtitles.

In this episode the year is 1991. With Communism collapsing and being replaced by a largely unregulated form of capitalism, the country undergoes the econmically important but sometimes still controversial process of privatization. It had both positive and negative effects, with ancient family homes returned to their rightful owners after decades of expropriation by the state, but it also indirectly resulted in the rise of powerful oligarchs who would dominate politics for years to come. The documentary asks if things could have been handled differently, a question that resounds to the current day.

This episode crams an awful lot into its 15 minutes. The second part concentrates on the foundation of the Diena newspaper, another crucial element in Latvia regaining its democratic feet. Its fate, and the fate of other newspapers, were also to be inextricably linked to the rise of the oligarchs.

According to LTV "The Keys" series tells of the most important or "key" events, personalities and turning points in the history of the Latvian state from 1918 to the present. The purpose is to reveal each selected event from an unusual point of view, as if "unlocking the door" to lesser known and therefore particularly intriguing facts. 

"Such an exploratory approach, bypassing the usual stereotypes of presenting history, will allow viewers to perceive what is known to others and to better understand what has happened in the context of today's experience," says LTV.

Throughout the year, Latvian history will be told in 'mixed order' - events will not be sequenced year by year, but viewed in the exact month in which they occurred

The show is made by VFS Films, a long-time partner of Latvian Television and it is hosted by Mārtiņš Ķibilds, a distinguished cultural journalist who sadly passed away late last year.

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