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Sunday 18.02.2018 | Name days: Kintija, Kora
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BNN summary of the week: attack on Syria and oil longevity in Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Decline; Truth and Future.

Change: Putin allows all Latvian and Estonian non-citizens to travel to Russia without a visa

On Wednesday, 5 April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that provides the right for Latvian and Estonian non-citizens born after 6 February 1992, when Soviet citizenship ceased to exist, to travel to the country without a visa.

The decree, which provides amendments to the 17 June 2008 decree, comes into force at the moment of signing, according to the document available on the Russian federal legislative acts portal.

The 2008 decree stated that people without certain nationality to travel to Russia without a visa if those people previously had USSR citizenship. Visa-free regime was secured by this decree for people born before 6 February 1992.

The new decree cancels this restriction, allowing all Latvian and Estonian non-citizens to travel to Russia with only their non-citizen passport issued in Latvia or foreigner passport issued in Estonia.

Amendments were prepared by Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry following an order from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/putin-allows-all-latvian-and-estonian-non-citizens-to-travel-to-russia-without-a-visa-163463

Fight: U.S. attacks Assad regime for first time, reacting to suspected chemical attack

U.S. army has for the first time during the Syrian Civil War attacked Syrian government forces, insisting it is a response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on an town controlled by Syrian rebels, where dozens of civilians have been killed.

BBC cited the U.S. defence ministry as stating that 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at 04:40 Syrian time from destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean targeting aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province, Syria.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/u-s-attacks-assad-regime-for-first-time-reacting-to-suspected-chemical-attack-163509

Decline: Pulks: Riga City Council gives away 17 million euros without tendering procedure

Over the course of the past five years, more than EUR 17 million was spend with no tendering procedure on Riga City Council’s single information system’s maintenance. Politician Olafs Pulks from Unity suspects certain municipal officials of having selfish interests.

Pulks has sent a letter to prosecutor general Eriks Kalnmeiers, Competition Council Chairman Skaidrite Abrama and State Auditor Elita Krumina, asking them to assess the actions of Riga City Council officials in picking a service provider without first performing a tendering procedure. Over the course of the past five years, more than EUR 17 million has been spent on maintenance of Riga City Council’s Single Information System.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/pulks-riga-city-council-gives-away-17-million-euros-without-tendering-procedure-163319

Truth: Investigators determine the identity of St Petersburg metro bomber

Russian investigators have determined the identity of the man who detonated an explosive in St Petersburg metro. In the interest of the investigation, the name of this man is not revealed, as reported by Investigation Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko on Tuesday, 4 April.

«Investigation conducted by the Investigation Committee, Interior Affairs Ministry and Federal Security Service has helped determine that the explosive in the metro may have had been detonated by a man whose remains were found in the third cart of the metro train. His identity has been determined as well, but in the interest of the investigation, information about him cannot be revealed at this time,» Petrenko said.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/investigators-determine-the-identity-of-st-petersburg-metro-bomber-163368

Future: Kirkup: if Transneft ceases oil exports through Baltics, LatRosTrans will not be sustainable

If LatRosTrans co-owner Transneft decides to cease oil product exports through Baltic ports, LatRosTrans will no longer be sustainable, says the company’s council chairman Robert Kirkup.

He says LatRosTrans had experienced a major transport volume decline in 2016 – from 4.7 million tonnes of oil products in 2015 to only 3.6 million tonnes last year. The company worked with a degree of profits, which was largely thanks to reduced costs.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/kirkup-if-transneft-ceases-oil-exports-through-baltics-latrostrans-will-not-be-sustainable-163527

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SRS uncovered violations in 169 inspections at catering companies last year

In 2017, the State Revenue Service (SRS) performed a total of 989 inspections at 212 catering companies. This includes 182 thematic inspections for 125 taxpayers. Violations were uncovered in 169 inspections. The most common violation was manipulation with cash registers, according to information published by SRS.

Russian tourists often decide to celebrate International Women’s Day in Riga

To satisfy growing demand for bus tickets from Russia to Latvia for the week when 8 March is celebrated, Lux Express plans to organize additional buses between St Petersburg and Riga.

FCMC to investigate ABLV Bank again; no operational restrictions applied to the bank

Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) has plans to perform an additional investigation at ABLV Bank in the next couple of weeks, says the commission’s manager Pēters Putniņš, adding that no operational restrictions have been applied to the bank so far.

Study: overall sense of happiness in Latvia is record-low

60% of Latvian residents feel happy. Although this is a good index, there has been a general decline of the sense of happiness, according to a study performed by Amigo mobile network operator and SKDS to assess the level of happiness of Latvian residents.

Raid reveals some taxi drivers in Riga do not have valid driver’s license

A raid was performed by the State Revenue Service and Riga Municipal Police to check taxi service providers in the capital. Authorities uncovered a total of 81 violations in 48 cases, BNN was informed by SRS.

Estonia sea ice crash: last missing body found

Nine days after a van with six people inside drove onto the ice of the Baltic Sea in south-western Estonia, the body of the last victim has been found.

Delna invites immediate investigation of claims about ABLV Bank’s money laundering schemes

The decision by US Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to apply sanctions against ABLV Bank for involvement in money laundering schemes and bribery of officials was not a surprise. It is a sign for acute need to continue improving investigative and supervisory institutions’ ability to prevent money laundering through Latvia, as noted by Delna – Society for Openness.

Estonian income tax should be simplified, parties believe

The existing income tax scheme in Estonia should be simplified, three parties in the Estonian Riigikogu find, but there are differences in opinion as to maintaining the current state budget income. Meanwhile, the opposition Reform Party has voiced backing for an annual tax-free income of 6,000 a year to every earner.

Baltics propose increasing member states’ contributions to EU budget after Brexit

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia invite European Union member states to increase contributions to the EU budget after 2020 in order to make sure available funds do not drop after UK’s exit.

Instagram obeys Russian internet censor to block content on corruption allegations

In the atmosphere of the March Russian presidential election, social network Instagram has submitted to the demands of Russia's internet censorship body and blocked in the country content with corruption claims voiced by Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Teenager charged with U.S. school shooting has confessed

A day after a tragic school shooting in Florida, the U.S., where 17 people have been killed, the suspect 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz has confessed to police.

Snowfall expected for weekends in Latvia; sky to become clear again next week

On Friday, 16 February, weather in Latvia will be dictated by a small cyclone, which will approach the country from Sweden. Because of that, the sky will be cloudy and snowfall will come to many areas. The cyclone will not be strong. With that, wind speed will remain relatively slow, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

How will Lithuania look like in another 100 years?

In order to tell it, one needs to know the past and the presence. Yet the predicting how the centennial celebrations-engulfed Lithuania will look like in another hundred years is not easy at all even for political and business pundits.

Minister: Latvian authorities will perform an investigation about FinCEN report

Responsible Latvian institutions will perform an investigation in relation to the report from US Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). In this report, the institution accuses ABLV Bank of bribing Latvian officials, says Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Party calls for extraordinary meeting of Riga City Council’s Transport Committee

To invite officials to explain the illegal decision in regards to the mutual agreement between Rīgas satiksme’s and Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme’s, political party For Latvia’s Development urges opposition factions of Riga City Council to call an extraordinary meeting of the Transport Committee, as confirmed by the party.

Meteorologists warn about -25° C frost in Latvia in March

Global Forecast System predicts a possibility of -25° C frost in Latvia’s eastern parts at the beginning of March.

Latvian residents remain dissatisfied with their families’ financial state

For several years in a row the majority of Latvian residents remain dissatisfied with their families’ financial state, according to results of Baltic International Bank Latvian Barometer.

Latvia’s cosmetics market – 160 million euros

Latvia’s cosmetics market is worth approximately EUR 160 million. Similar to Europe, skin and hair care products are the most popular ones. The smallest market proportion is occupied by decorative cosmetics, according to data from Latvian Cosmetic Manufacturers Association (LCMA).

RB Rail CEO says interference «from above» has been in line with the law so far

We have seen interference «from above» in RB Rail’s activities. The law was not breached, however. With that, there was no need to report anything to law enforcement institutions, RB Rail CEO Baiba Rubesa told Ir magazine.

15 Estonians die in flu period from complications

The number flu patients in Estonia is currently increasing. So far during this year's flu season, 15 people have passed away with flue-related complications.

Economy Minister asked to fix increasing electricity bills; parties threaten with dismissal

Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens has to fix the mistakes that have caused electricity bills to increase, said chairman of Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia Egils Baldzēns in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Third of beer consumed in Estonia in 2017 bought in Vidzeme, Estonian factory breweries evaluate

Saku and A. Le Coq, two largest beer makers in Estonia have not published their exact sales numbers for the last year, but have been quick in stating that about one third of all beer drunk in Estonia was purchased in Latvia.

U.S. hit by another mass shooting at school

In the U.S., a high school has been attacked in the state of Florida, where gunshots have taken the lives of 17 people. Local police has detained a suspect – a 19-year-old man, who had been expelled from the same school.

Czech Republic and Slovakia may add to NATO’s battalion in Latvia this summer

The Czech Republic and Slovakia may add to the NATO battalion stationed in Latvia at the beginning of summer 2018, as confirmed by Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis.

Education Committee supports transition to education only in Latvian language

Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee has conceptually supported amendments to the law that provide for a transition to education only in state language. This transition will be performed gradually, with the final phase scheduled for 2021/2022 school year, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.