Tired of the beach? Latvians offer abuse, insults as a tourist lure

LIEPAJA, Latvia, July 29, 2006 (AFP) – Some countries will do anything to attract tourists. In Latvia, they have pristine beaches, architectural pearls, verdant countryside and excellent cuisine, but why bother when you can have abuse and insults — even get shot — in a former KGB prison?

On a hot July day, about 20 “prisoners” — 15 Latvian students and their teachers and four American tourists, including an eight-year-old — were interned in the jail in the western city of Liepaja.

“What is this prison for?” barked out the chief prison warden, played with chilling reality by Einars Meiris.

“For capitalist spies who are trying to get information about us. Here we will get all the information we need about them and countries like West Germany, France, and, of course, the United States, the biggest enemy of ours.

“It’s not hard actually. We’ll throw you in the black cell for 24 hours and you’ll start getting softer. If that doesn’t work, we can do some physical activity, say two days without sleep,” he added, as the door of the airless black cell slammed shut.

Americans Bran