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Ceturtdiena 21.06.2018 | Name days: Monvīds, Egita, Emīls
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BNN summary of the week: birth and death rates in Latvia turn out shocking. Gambling halls to close down

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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: Fight; Truth; Business; Future.

BUSINESS: Sale of MTG’s business in Baltics to Providence concludes successfully

Wednesday, 18 October, marked the successful conclusion of the sale of Baltic assets owned by Swedish media concern Modern Times Group to Providence Equity Partners. From now on companies previously owned by MTG in Baltics will function as a single organization named All Media Baltics, as confirmed by the company’s manager Pierre Danon.

Permission for the sale to go down was received from all Baltic States’ regulators, including Latvian Competition Council.

MTG, which was present in Latvia since 1998, owned television channels TV3, TV3+, TV6, LNT, Kanāls 2 and radio station Star FM, as well as internet portals Tvpay and Skaties. In Estonia, MTG owned Viasat Eesti, television channels TV3, TV6, and TV3+, whereas in Lithuania the company owned TV3, TV3+ and Viasat Sport Baltic. Providence Equity Partners manages Bite Group mobile telecommunications company in Baltic States. Bite controls 28.5% of Latvia’s internet and cable television services provider Baltcom.

Full article here

FIGHT: LG cozies up with idea of rebuilding railway tracks to Reņģe, Latvia

Lithuania‘s Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has sent a mixed message as to what it intends to do next following an EC fine of nearly 28 million against it over the dismantling a 19-km railway stretch with the Latvian village of Rengė.

Brussels ruled in early October that Lithuania resorted to the drastic means to intentionally limit the capabilities of Latvian railways in transporting oil products from Orlen Lietuva, an oil refinery in the Lithuanian town of Mažeikiai, to Latvia. Besides, the absence of railway tracks forced the Polish refinery to transport its freight to Latvia on a much longer route.

«It is likely that we will soon start rebuilding the Rengė-stretch to settle the issue,» Mantas Bartuška, CEO of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (LG), told a news conference on Wednesday, October 18.

He did not elaborate, however. Earlier calculations suggest the price-tag of the construction can be in the range of 20 million euros.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said while on her visit to Lithuania last week that rebuilding would solve the problem of the removed tracks.

Full article here

DECLINE: Number of births and number of deaths decline in Latvia

During the first nine months of this year 15,723 babies were born in Latvia, which is 1,113 children fewer than in the corresponding period of the last year.

The number of newborn does not include children born outside Latvia to mother while temporarily abroad. The data on children born abroad will be available in April 2018, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

During the first nine months of the year, positive changes may be observed in the death number (21,363 deaths were registered) – a drop of 46 deaths, compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

Full article here

TRUTH: BATL: to avoid crisis in transit sector, government and Transport Ministry must act

Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ led Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council also supports Saeima’s National Economy Committee’s decision on the need for Transport Ministry to develop a long-term vision for the development of the country’s transit industry.

Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne is satisfied with this decision. She says it means ‘the ice has started moving’ and that the first steps towards ensuring development for the industry have been made. This opens way for new discussions, especially considering the delicate state of the industry and continuing decline of transit cargoes.

On Wednesday, 18 October, Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council decided not to view the matter regarding transit industry’s competitiveness. Instead it was decided to postpone it until Transport Ministry has prepared a strategic vision for the industry’s future development.

Antāne comments: «We are satisfied with the fact that we have been heard. The road towards this moment was not easy. The feeling is not unlike traversing Altenberg bobsleigh track, which is considered the most complex track in the world. Support from the committee and Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council for this decision means the era of the ‘transit industry is fine’ statement is over. We expect Transport Ministry to perform work professionally and prepare a vision for the industry’s future development to ensure stability. This is the first and important step towards sorting out the industry.»

Full article here

FUTURE: 42 gambling halls to be closed down in Riga in next five years

On Wednesday, 18 October, Riga City Council supported plans to close another 33 gambling halls in the city. With that, a total of 42 gambling halls will be liquidated in the next five year.

Riga City Council’s Legal Office has prepared decisions for revoking permits allowing the opening of new gambling halls within Riga’s historic centre and its protected area. Restrictions will not apply to four and five-star hotels and public construction territories.

Disagreements appeared between coalition and opposition deputies from the beginning of this matter’s review. This is because opposition representative Juris Pūce and Mārtiņš Bondars opposed the closure of gambling halls. During the decision-making process, deputies mentioned that Pūce should step down because his wife’s association Ascendum had received more nearly half a million euros worth of donations from gambling businesses.

Deputy Aleksejs Rosļikovs mentioned that Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has launched an investigation about this.

Pūce said that accusations voiced against him are nothing more than ‘populist drivel’ intended to create the impression that Harmony has finally done something good for residents. He added that the true purpose of those accusations is the desire to continue stealing from and distracting people.

Full article here

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Ukraine's anti-corruption court law insufficient to IMF commitments

The International Monetary Fund has commended the Ukrainian parliament for passing a law to establish an anti-corruption court and pointed to need to amend it to ensure the court can work effectively.

Opinion: they’re trying to shut us up; KPV LV is inconvenient for current government

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Estonian traitor Simm ruled to serve full 12.5 years in prison

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CPCB officers detain Kaimiņš after Saeima meeting

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Around 15% of Estonian 15-19-year-olds estimated to have mental illness

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Chief: Anti-Money Laundering Service should not submit to a single person

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Saeima permits commencement of criminal process against Artuss Kaimiņš

This week Latvia’s Saeima voted in favour of the decision to detain and then perform a search in the home of Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš from KPV LV political party.

U.S. withdraws from UN Human Rights Council voicing sharp criticism

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Latvian minister confirms interrogation by Lithuanian investigators

In the case regarding possible corruption in the National Blood Centre, Lithuanian services have interrogated Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša, as confirmed by the official.

Recreational use of marijuana legalised in Canada

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Human Rights Committee: KGB documents should be made publicly accessible

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Non-negotiated contracts; fictive deals: digital television introduction schemes for «mere mortals»

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Doctors unjustifiably charged fees for services worth 255,000 last year

Last year, authorities found that medical institutions that provide state budget-financed healthcare services had charged fees for services worth EUR 254,994, according to data compiled by Health Inspectorate.

Budget Committee picks Swedbank economist for Bank of Latvia Council

On Tuesday, 19 June, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously decided to submit to the Saeima a decision project regarding approval of Mārtiņš Kazāks for the post of member of the council of the Bank of Latvia, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Farmers Saeima proposes declaring state of emergency in Latvia’s agriculture sector

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IT specialist’s lawyers appeal client's arrest in recent restaurant case

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Russian and Belarusian arms control experts hosted by Lithuania

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Latvia’s ports suffer freight volume decline in first five months of 2018

Latvian ports handled 27.072 million tonnes of freight in the first five months of this year, which is 7.5% less when compared to the same period of last year, according to data compiled by Transport Ministry.

Bicycle rickshaws in Tallinn will need safety belts from July

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158 election sites to open in Riga during next Saeima elections

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30% of Latvian residents are dissatisfied with their family’s financial state

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Apple fined 5 million euros for customer rights violations in Australia

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Latvian coalition still torn about attracting highly-qualified guest workers

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