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Sunday 20.05.2018 | Name days: Venta, Salvis, Selva
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BNN summary of the week: Control Service gets new head and Latvian ministry’s structure discussed in detail

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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; Increase; Law; Fight; Opinion and Future.

CHANGE: Latvian companies in Vietnam to be provided with a stable tax system

Latvian companies working in Vietnam will be provided with a stable tax system that will not be affected by amendments of Vietnam’s regulations. This is provided by Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee’s conceptually supported on Wednesday, 9 May, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

The legislative draft provides for ratifying Latvian-Vietnamese agreement on prevention of double taxation and tax avoidance. The objective of the agreement is preventing tax avoidance of all involved sides. The document will cover a legislative base to ensure direct cooperation between Latvian and Vietnamese tax administrations, ensuring regular exchange of information, as confirmed by Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Full article here

INCREASE: events in Victory Park passed without major incidents

«The annual 9 May events in Victory Park passed without any major incidents and physical confrontations,» said Chief of State Police’s Riga Region Department Juris Šulte in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

On 9 May, State Police filed administrative violation reports for 30 people. People were fined for appearing drunk or under influence of other substances in public, hooliganism, refusal to comply with police officers’ requests, drunk driving and other violations.

Last year, the number of administrative violation reports filed on 9 May was 24.

Šulte says the number of visitors was around 150,000.

According to her, events in the park transpired without any major incidents.

Full article here

LAW: Court applies arrest to pro-Russian activist in Latvia

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court applied an arrest to pro-Russian activist Vladimirs Lindermans on Thursday, 10 May.

The matter regarding his security measure was viewed behind closed doors. Around 15 of Lindermans’ supporters were waiting for him outside the courtroom during the session. Among them were the head of Latvian Russians Union Tatyana Zhdanok and another pro-Russian activist Josifs Korens.

Lindermans’ attorney Jeļena Kvjatkovska says the court’s ruling will be challenged in Riga Regional Court.

She also says she has sent a letter to the Prosecutor General’s Office in relation to her client’s arrest.

Lindermans is the second pro-Russian activist to have been arrested in the last month in Latvia.

Full article here

FIGHT: Who wins – Daugavpils mayor’s language skills or State Language Centre?

In spite of Latvia’s State Language Centre’s conclusion regarding his insufficient language skills, Mayor of Daugavpils Rihards Eigims intends to continue performing his duties.

Eigims says he is prepared to take this matter to court. He had previously said his language skills are sufficient for him to continue performing his duties, communicating with residents and officials, as well as defending the city’s interests in different structures.

State Language Centre’s representative Sarmīte Pāvulēna had previously reported the institution’s intention to request revoking Eigims mandate for not using state language when performing his duties.

In response to an application, SLC found that Eigims has failed to comply with the requirement to use state language in his duties at the highest level. After reporting his violation, the centre gave Eigims six months to improve his language skills. However, the centre says the mayor’s skills have not improved at all.

«Chairman of a city council should have no problems with language skills. A person in such an important post should speak state language freely. Unfortunately, this is not the case here,» says Pāvulēna.

Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis had previously told Latvijas Radio’s programme Krustpunktā that the matter with Eigims is not politicized.

Full article here

OPINION: Latvia’s Environment Ministry has mafia-like structure

«Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry is abundantly misused. Over the years it has fallen under management of people representing interests of very narrow groups of people. Among them are representatives of the Union of Greens and Farmers, who have received the mandate to manage the ministry in exchange for demonstrating their loyalty to the regime in Ventspils. UGF has become one with Ventspils powers. Other parties, such as Harmony and the National Alliance, are trying to hide this fact,» said Ventspils opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis in an interview to BNN.

He says that those parties often defend old nomenclatures – «servants of the Soviet Union and their ambiguous operations in Latvia’s state power structures». «This is felt quite well in Ventspils. The only positive exception was Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Edmunds Sprūdžs, who was unfortunately ‘eaten away’ by mafia structures present in Latvia’s party system,» Landmanis continues.

He believes an internal lobby has formed inside the ministry. This lobby has served the interests of a very narrow group of people for almost as long as Latvia has had its independence restored. «It is almost a mafia-like structure that operates alongside the state structure. Its power centre, however, is located elsewhere.»

Landmanis also mentions that the ministry is currently led by a representative of the National Alliance, and this party allegedly fights for democratic values. «Municipal matters are made, it seems, by parties that work well with each other – UGF and Harmony – which leaves the minister from NA is an odd position,» says Landmanis.

«Latvia’s environment minister, including the current minister Kaspars Gerhards, should have requested a change of Ventspils City Council chairman a long time ago. Lembergs has been absent since 2007. It is clear he cannot be allowed to be chairman, but the ministry acts as though it sees nothing,» BNN was told by Ventspils opposition deputy.

Full article here

FUTURE: Latvia’s prime minister appoints new head of Control Service

Lawyer Ilze Znotiņa has agreed to take post as head of Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity, as confirmed by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in an interview to Rīta panorama programme.

Znotiņa will take office 1 June. She provided written consent to lead the Control Service on Wednesday, 9 May, said the prime minister.

Kučinskis says he wants the current head – Viesturs Burkāns – to continue providing support to the service. He said Burkāns may be appointed as deputy chairman.

The prime minister adds that Znotiņa’s work group will search for a solution to ensure the service’s independence and reorganization. Kučinskis allows that the status of the Control Service could be similar to that of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau or Constitution Protection Bureau.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania. Liberal Movement to turn to court over VSD statements

The board of Lithuania's Liberal Movement has decided to turn to court over information published by the State Security Department, allegedly damaging the party's reputation.

BNN summary of the week: distorted state administration, Liepājas metalurgs recovery, and Latvia unemployment level

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Growth; Business; Fight; Future; Opinion

New approach to combating drunk drivers – forced correction programme

Latvia’s Justice Ministry reports that the administrative penalties reform proposes introducing stricter punishments for drunk drivers. If a person is caught drunk driving, their license would be confiscated. On top of that, to recover the license, that person would have to pass a social correction programme.

Latvian MEP to «cause a scandal» where he can to stop school reform

Members of the European Parliament Andrejs Mamikins and Miroslavs Mitrofanovs have gathered support from 114 of their fellow MEPs to request the Latvian government and Saeima to review the already approved amendments to the Education Law and General Education Law that govern realization of the national minorities’ school reform, as confirmed by Mamikins.

Germany criticises U.S. attempts to block Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

As to the controversial Nord Stram 2 Russian gas pipeline via Baltic sea to Germany, the German Economy has evaluated that American attempts to block it could be aimed at increasing U.S. a planned Russia-Germany gas pipeline to increase its own energy exports.

Number of complaints about taxi services at Riga International Airport on a rise

The number of complaints about taxi services at Riga International Airport continues to increase, said the airport’s board chairperson Ilona Līce in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Ryanair sees Estonia as important market, considers local hub option

Irish low-fare airline Ryanair considers Estonia an important market, the firm's chief executive Michael O'Leary noted while visiting Tallinn earlier in the week.

Minister: UN should act to call violators of international law to justice

«The United Nation Security Council, as the main institution maintaining peace and security, has a special responsibility, because its activities affect compliance with international law,» says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Banks to report private persons whose account turnover exceeds EUR 15,000

From 18 May onward, banks will have to report private persons whose annual account turnover exceeds EUR 15,000, as provided by the Cabinet of Ministers’ supported order, under which the State Revenue Service is to be provided with information about a private person’s turnover and balance.

Baltic States request expanding NATO’s battalion with air and naval forces

Baltic States plan to request expanding international NATO battalion with air and naval forces, as confirmed by Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Lino Linkevičiaus, who met with US President’s National Security Advisor John R. Bolton in Washington alongside his Latvian and Estonian colleagues.

Poland uncovers Russian hybrid war networks

Poland has detained a Russian national suspected of working with accomplices to stimulate social tension with neighbouring Ukraine and neutralised two Russian hybrid war networks, the Polish Internal Security agency has stated.

Weather in Latvia to remain moderately warm in Latvia; precipitation to be low

On Friday, 18 May, some areas of Latvia will experience thunderstorms. However, starting from the end of the week, weather will become dry again with little precipitation. Rain cloud will form above Latvia in the second half of the week, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Construction output rise in Latvia was more rapid than EU’s average level in Q4 2017

Compared to last year’s October-December, Latvia’s construction output in Q4 2017 grew 19.9%, which is a much more rapid rise than the average in the European Union, according to data published by Eurostat on Thursday, 17 May.

Latvian Saeima’s committee does not support Kušners’ re-approval in Bank of Latvia council

On Thursday, 17 May, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided not to recommend Edvards Kušners for a repeated term in the council of the Bank of Latvia.

Control Service Chief: wages in the service should be twice as large

Wages in the Anti-Money Laundering or Control Service should be equal to what is paid to people working in the Finance and Capital Market Commission, so twice as large as it is now, said Control Service’s Chief Ilze Znotiņa in an interview to Ir magazine.

SEB Bank’s factoring portfolio up 41% in the first quarter of 2018

In addition, similar to the volume of goods and services of Latvia’s exporting companies, which had increased unexpectedly rapidly in Q1 2018 – by 15%, there has also been a significant increase for the number of factoring deals.

Latvia experienced a rapid increase in registration of new cars in January-April period

In the first four months of 2018, Latvia has experienced a more rapid increase of newly registered cars than the average in the European Union, according to information from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

In Slovak Kuciak's investigation, phone of his colleague journalist confiscated

As Slovak law enforcement continues to investigate the murder of Ján Kuciak, prosecutors have confiscated the smart phone of a colleague of the investigative journalist – a move condemned by the country's media organisations.

Nurses’ wages up 50-70%, but still far from competitive

Wages of nurses of Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital have grown 50-60%. However, there is still a long way to go before they become competitive, said Stradins Hospital’s head nurse Eva Cela in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Head of powerful Seimas committee: certain media outlets can be stripped of licenses

In a new twist of the prolonged scandal over the influence of the powerful business holding MG Baltic on Lithuania‘s politics for years through its own television channels LNK, BTV, TV1, Info TV and Liuks!, Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the powerful parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence in a TV interview poured gasoline on the fire, proposing that certain media organisations acting against the state's interests must have their licenses revoked.

Second Rail Baltica railway line construction project announced in Latvia

Continuing the realization of activities associated with Rail Baltica project, RB Rail has announced the next procurement process, as confirmed by the company.

Tartu railway fire partly stops trains at Estonian second city

In Estonia, railway traffic to an from the city of Tartu has partly stopped and been substituted with buses after a signal box fire.

Coface: signs in business sector point towards economic decline risks

There is currently a rather optimistic situation across all business sectors and the country’s economy as a whole. However, considering the positive environment, the question for how long this period of economic growth will continue remains topical, notes international credit risk insurance company Coface manager in Baltic States Mantvīds Štareika.

Argentine prepares for Russia with advice to approach «Russian girls»

«How to stand a chance with a Russian girl» - the Argentine Football Association has been criticised for giving such advice in a manual to journalists travelling to the football World Cup in Russia.

KPV LV: Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration

Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration. The coalition council should be liquidated entirely, says KPV LV co-chairman Atis Zakatistovs.

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