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Monday 19.03.2018 | Name days: Jāzeps

BNN summary of the week: city council restricts deputies’ rights; Norvik Bank loses assets; EP to combat terrorism funding

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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: Announcement; Measures; Fight; Business; Opinion; Decline; Future.

ANNOUNCEMENT: European Parliament to combat terrorism funding more intensely

To halt terrorism funding, the European Union member states should monitor suspicious transactions and charity organizations, as well as exchange information about them more actively, members of the European Parliament propose.

In order to fight terrorism more effectively, it is necessary to oppose illegal trade of goods, arms, oil, narcotics and cigarettes, MEPs mentioned in the resolution approved on Thursday, 1 March.

They emphasize that part of the funding terrorists receive is acquired in Europe thanks to mutually linked international non-profit organizations, charity organizations and funds that serve as cover for criminal activities.

MEPs ask EU Council, European Commission and European External Action Service to form an EU anti-terrorism funding intelligence platform that would improve information exchange and coordination among finance institutions. This platform could be put under Europol’s authority, as proposed by the European Parliament.

Full article here

MEASURES: ministry proposes diverting Latvenergo’s profits towards reducing MPC

Considering Latvenergo’s increased profits, Latvia’s Economy Ministry proposes diverting EUR 78.9 million towards reducing the mandatory procurement component (MPC) burden, BNN was informed by the ministry.

«I believe the profit of the state-owned company should be invested in state and society’s interests. The increased profits from Latvenergo worth EUR 78.9 million should be diverted to cover MPC costs, specifically reducing the fixed MPC fee for consumers. This measure should be reflected in consumers’ bills in the near future,» Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens told BNN.

He emphasized that Economy Ministry continues actively working and looking for ways to reduce MPC burden.

«We performed recovery of MPC commitments from TEC1 and TEC2 power stations last year. This helped us prevent a dramatic increase of MPC burden by at least 28% this year. Diversion of profits from Latvenergo concern would be a step towards reducing MPC burden for all consumers. It is a political choice – the decision on introduction of this solution is to be initiated by Economy Ministry and to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers,» said the minister.

According to provisional data, Latvenergo worked with turnover of EUR 925,637 million last year, which is 0.6% less than it did in 2016. Latvenergo’s profits grew 2.5 times, reaching EUR 322,191 million, according to information submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Full article here

FIGHT: Overnight discussions end with Riga City Council limiting members’ ability to ask questions

After more than eleven hours of tough talks, Riga City Council accepted amendments to the internal order that limit deputies’ ability to ask questions during meetings. The opposition voted against these changes.

Amendments provide that deputies from now on will have the right to ask no more than three questions during meetings. In addition, only one break will be allowed during viewings of matters. Rapporteurs will have the right for final statement.

Until now the right for breaks was available to every faction. On top of that, they were able to ask questions without restrictions, which is something the opposition often used.

The aforementioned amendments were proposed on Wednesday, 28 February. After nearly three hours of talks the matter was taken from the agenda. An extraordinary city council meeting was organized in the evening at 18:00.

During this meeting, members of the opposition asked for a break to discuss the proposal with leaders of other factions another day. Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs, however, said that 32 members of the city council who submitted this proposal wanted to discuss this matter immediately. The mayor said other discussions requested by the opposition would take place later.

After repeated requests before midnight, Ušakovs declared a short break to discuss this matter with coalition deputies.

After the discussion Ušakovs mentioned that ‘because of emotional tension, the coalition is not prepared to call off its proposal’. Nevertheless, he was given mandate to organize regular meetings of faction leaders to discuss the city council’s organization of work and ideas proposed by the opposition.

Juta Strīķe from the New Conservative Party proposed organizing a meeting for leaders of all six factions this night. Ušakovs supported this idea. Faction leaders agreed and the meeting continued at 01:45 a.m.

Full article here

BUSINESS: shareholder separates Russian Vjatka Bank from Norvik; puts it under his family’s control

Russian businessman Grigory Guselnikov and his family have acquired direct control over Vjatka Bank without mediation from Latvian Norvik Bank, as stated in Vjatka Bank’s announcement.

Guselnikov is also Norvik Bank’s largest shareholder.

«Grigory Guselnikov and Norvik Bank have realized a transaction with Vjatka Bank shares. As a result of this transaction, Vjatka Bank is no longer a subsidiary of Latvian Norvik Bank. As a result of this transaction, Guselnikov and his family have acquired direct control over Vjatka Bank without Norvik Bank’s mediation,» as noted in the bank’s announcement.

Vjatka Bank’s governor Sergei Tuvalkin explains this transaction was planned a long time ago.

Full article here

OPINION: Latvian parties exchange accusations about Lembergs criminal case

«I think you should be put in prison for what you have done,» as Artuss Kaimiņš from party told Inguna Sudraba during a meeting of Saeima’s Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee. Kaimiņš mentioned her dishonest behaviour in the parliamentary investigative committee, adding that Sudraba was in a conflict of interests.

Kaimiņš mentioned her involvement in several cases associated with Aivars Lembergs – one of the main accused in the so-called Oligarchs case. He also reminded Sudraba that concerns about her honesty are only increased by the fact that she was consulted by the lawyer of Lembergs’ son.

On Wednesday, 28 February, Saeima’s Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee viewed Sudraba’s application in relation to Kaimiņš’s statements, including invitation to arrest her.

The committee decided to give Kaimiņš a written warning for some of his statements, including the proposal to arrest Sudraba.

Sudraba asked the committee to assess Kaimiņš’s statements. Vitalijs Orlovs, chairman of the committee, said this would be the ninth time when members of the committee discuss complaints about Kaimiņš’s statements.

The committee agreed to issue Kaimiņš a written warning.

During discussions in the Saeima in regards to Sudraba’s dismissal from the parliamentary committee, Kaimiņš noted that the committee had accepted the final report most investigators had never read before approval. The politician invited Sudraba to pick her own punishment, adding that she should be arrested for her work in the committee. During a different meeting, he mentioned how Sudraba had converted to «Orthodoxy to get Russian voices».

Full article here

DECLINE: ABLV Bank: 300 people to lose jobs next week; construction of New Hanza Quarter disrupted

Next week, 30% or 300 people will lose their jobs in ABLV Bank, as confirmed by the bank’s chairman Ernests Bernis. Among those people are highly-qualified workers – financiers, marketing specialists and others. The bank’s representative adds that this means families that have a total of 700 children under the age of 12 will suffer lay-offs.

The credit institution currently has more than 900 employees.

«The decision to commence liquidation was made independently from us. We had to make a decision that would protect the business. This is why the decision has been made to self-liquidate. This was the toughest decision in my life. It has effectively erased the work we have done over the past 25 years,» said Bernis.

The bank’s chairman emphasized that the bank’s council agreed on 26 February meeting to perform all the necessary measures to disprove the report published by FinCEN and restore their reputation.

ABLV Bank co-owner and council chairman Olegs Fils has said «it is hard to believe what has happened». He promised the bank’s board will do all it can to supervise everything that applies to liquidator work.

Explaining why the bank decided in favour of self-liquidation, Bernis said this is the board’s way of protecting the bank from unprofessional activities. It is also emphasized that all matters regarding the bank’s future will depend on liquidators that will manage this process.

The bank’s representatives say they still have to submit the self-liquidation plan to the Finance and Capital Market Commission within the next five days. FCMC plans to review this matter within 30 days. While the evaluation and approval of liquidators continues, the bank’s board will continue working as usual.

ABLV Bank has proposed candidates for the liquidation group. Among the candidates are Elvijs Vēbers from Elvijs Vēbers un partneri sworn attorneys office, New Hanza Capital chairman Andris Kovaļčuks and board member of ABLV Corporate Finance Arvīds Kostomārovs. Liquidator candidates are to be approved by FCMC.

Full article here

FUTURE: Billion-euro pulp factory becomes «hot potato» in Estonia

Reacting to the Estonian ministries of finance and environment suggesting that a billion-euro pulp factory planned by the firm EstFor could be erected in either the city of Tartu or the town of Viljandi, the Mayor of Tartu has objected to the idea.

«The plant would be allowed to discharge [smelly exhausts] on 54 days of the year, which the people of Tartu certainly won’t agree with,» the ERR cited Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas as stating. «Another thing is that the plant would have such an environmental impact on the water quality both of the Emajõgi river as well as Lake Peipus that we wouldn’t be able to meet the conditions set out in the water management plan».

Full article here


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Number of vacant jobs in Latvia grew 17.9% in 2017

In 2017, there were 17.0 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which was 2.6 thousand vacancies or 17.9 % more than in 2016. In public sector there were 6.1 thousand job vacancies van in private sector 10.9 thousand vacancies.

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Latvia’s prime minister open for talks regarding MPC system’s liquidation

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Air temperature in Latvia to remain mostly positive throughout the week

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Ukraine: British diplomats expelled from Moscow could work in Kyiv

In a reaction to Russia's announcement that it would expel 23 British diplomats from Moscow as part of the UK-Russia argument over poisoning of double-agent in an English city, Ukrainian Foreign Minister has suggested to his British counterpart that the 23 diplomats could now work in Ukraine.

UGF leader confirms: Lembergs will not be proposed for prime minister post

Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes and is currently suspended from his post as chairman of Ventspils City Council, had proposed his candidacy for the post of prime minister of Latvia multiple times in the past. The moment has come at long last when Lembergs will not be an official candidate for the aforementioned post, as BNN was told by the leader of Union of Greens and Farmers’ Saeima faction Augusts Brigmanis.

NATO's defence spending benchmark met by three EU member states

Despite the current demanding security situation, in the NATO military alliance, no more than three member states of the European Union have reached the recommended defence spending sum in 2017 and Estonia is one of them.

In fight for northern Syria, Turkish-backed forces take city from Kurds

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Russian presidential election pronounced won by Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin been announced as the winner of the Sunday, March 18, presidential election, as the politician has pledged to devote his new term in office to strengthen Russia’s defences against the West and to improve the quality of life.

Week in Lithuania. Some 5,000 gather in protest rally outside Lithuania's Parliament

Some 5,000 people gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius on Thursday, March 15, to express discontent with the failed parliamentary vote to impeach MP Mindaugas Bastys and the performance of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

BNN summary of the week: oligarch talks’ ownership; scandals in Lithuania; Estonia wants direct democracy

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Scandals; Invitation; Fight; Opinion; Decline.

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

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Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

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Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

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Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

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Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Building gas pipe to Finland, Estonia to organise works for EUR 135 million

Continuing the works on the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Estonian natural gas network company Elering has stated that around 135 million euros, including a 98-million-euro funding from the European Union, will be invested in the project.

Replacement of cash registers rejected by SRS would cost half a million euros

The State Revenue Service has declined 18,000 cash registers as unfitting for requirements established by the Cabinet of Ministers. Fixing the problems found in them would cost half a million euros, as reported by LNT News.

Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee presented with protest restrictions on 16 March

Administrative District Court has compiled a shortened ruling, in which it rejected Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee’s application and preserved the decision imposed by Riga City acting CEO on 13 March 2018 on establishing restrictions on the planned gathering and protest act for 16 March unchanged.

U.S. introduces Russian sanctions for election meddling and cyber-attacks

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Slovakian PM Fico replaced with fellow party member

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Weekends will be cold and sunny in Latvia; next week will have volatile weather

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