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Monday 21.05.2018 | Name days: Ingmārs, Ernestīne, Akvelīna
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BNN summary of the week: Ušakovs’ suspicious attempts and ‘Lembergs factor’ effect

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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: Decline; Change; Growth; Truth; Future and Opinion.

CHANGE: Administrative violation procedure launched against Latvijas dzelzceļš

For the first time since its foundations, the State Railway Administration commenced an administrative violation procedure against Latvijas dzelzceļš on 6 November 2017 for hiding information from state supervisory authorities.

Representatives of the State Railway Administration say that a supervisory institution is needed to perform an inspection of the reasons behind the decision to raise fees for infrastructure use, as well as possible discrimination of carriers by means of artificially making the country’s transit corridor more expensive.

The possible penalty, according to Administrative Violations Code, may reach EUR 14,000.

Latvijas Dzelzceļš had repeatedly ignored State Railway Administration’s request to provide a detailed deciphering of costs included in calculation of infrastructure use fees LDz plans to introduce on 1 January 2018, as noted by representatives of the administration.

It is the duty of the State Railway Administration to check if the fee for infrastructure use is established in accordance with the law. Because of the attempt to hide information from authorities, it is not possible for the administration to perform its duties.

State Railway Administration Director Juris Iesalnieks: «This is the first time in the history of the country’s railway industry when a state-owned company refused to provide requested information to a supervisory institution. Upon facing such an unprecedented case, the State Railway Administration is forced to apply sanctions against Latvijas Dzelzceļš.»

Full article here

DECLINE: Documents detailing Godmanis’ possible cooperation with KGB disappear from archives

Researchers of Latvia’s history were shocked to find that documents associated with activities of KGB branch of Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic were gone from court archives, says chairman of the research committee in charge of analysing KGB documents Kārlis Kangeris.

On Wednesday, 8 November, Riga District Court refused to provide information to the committee, saying that papers detailing possible cooperation of LSSR Supreme Council Chairman Ivars Godmanis with KGB are no longer found in the archive.

Latvian National Archive representative Māra Sprūdža has informed the committee that the request to check if the case is stored in the archive was sent to LNA Sigulda’s branch office, which stores documents from Riga District Court. However, the possibility of the case being in the archive is insignificant.

Kangeris notes that the loss of the case is rather distressing, because Valmiera Court had previously got rid of KGB cooperation documents, making it impossible to research testimonies. «We wrote about that to the National Archive and different institutions. Things like that should never happen – cases have to be stored and protected,» says Kangeris.

Full article here

TRUTH: Riga City Council is planning suspicious allocation of funds for Rīgas satiksme

Latvian Association of Regions and For Latvia’s Development ask Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs to explain the new and unjustified desire to provide funding to Rīgas satiksme, BNN was told by party members.

Considering the information that was reported during a meeting of Riga City Council’s Finance and Administrative Affairs Committee about adding amendments to Riga municipality’s 2017 budget in order to perform an investment of EUR 9.6 million for Rīgas satiksme, LRA/LA faction leader Juris Pūce has decided to ask Ušakovs to provide the necessary information and explain reasons for this decision.

Pūce explains that no answers were provided to the questions asked during the meeting.

«We asked many questions as to why taxpayers’ money is to be provided to a company experiencing serious financial problems. The desire to invest EUR 9.6 million in Rīgas satiksme seems rather suspicious. This is why we have decided to ask Nils Ušakovs to provide all necessary information about the reasons for this decision,» explains the faction’s leader.

Full article here

FUTURE: Ašeradens will remain as economy minister, but Āboltiņa will be expelled from Unity

Unity’s board chairman Arvils Ašeradens will remain as Latvia’s Economy Minister, as decided by the party’s board.

Ašeradens will not lead Unity’s Saeima faction, however. This task will be entrusted to Hosams Abu Meri. This was the recommendation given to Saeima’s faction. A final decision on this will be made soon.

On Monday, 6 November, the board decided to expel once the party’s leader and current head of Unity’s Saeima faction Solvita Āboltiņa for discrediting the search process for the new economy minister.

Unity chairman Arvils Ašeradens told journalists after the meeting that the party had discussed events in relation to the replacement of the country’s economy minister. Āboltiņa had acted opposite to the decision made by the party’s board about the search for a minister candidate and commenting on the situation.

Ašeradens emphasized that it was the prerogative of the party’s board to propose and coordinate candidates. This decision was breached by Āboltiņa. She is not the only person to blame. However, she did criticize candidates and comment on the process.

Āboltiņa had planned to step down before the end of the year. The decision remains in her hands, says Ašeradens. The process progressed opposite to the agreement, which came especially painful because Ābotliņa’s positions were defended at the last congress, said the party’s leader. He says he has seen the same opposition and intrigue process as before.

Full article here

OPINION: «Lembergs factor» impedes finance minister’s chances of becoming Eurogroup’s president

Because of «Lembergs factor», Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola’s chances of becoming president of European Union’s Council of Finance Ministers or Eurogroup are very low, says President of European Movement – Latvia Andris Gobiņš.

He explains that becoming a candidate is commendable in of itself. However, there are serious doubts if Reizniece-Ozola would be an appropriate leader for Eurogroup. According to Gobiņš, there are several arguments in favour of the minister: she is a woman, she has a love for chess, she comes from a small Eastern European country, and Latvia is one of the few countries that fit all Maastricht criteria. However, one very significant factor against her as a candidate is the «Lembergs factor».

«No one in the EU wants to rely on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friends, which include UGF and Aivars Lembergs directly and indirectly. Ties are very strong there, and this is exactly what impedes Reizenice-Ozola’s chances of getting the post. Any doubts about the candidate’s independence and ability to thing independently only serve to reduce a candidate’s chances,» said the organization’s president.

Gobiņš also says that because UGF has no agreement signed with any of the European Parliament parties also reduces Reizniece-Ozola’s chances. «UGF have yet to decide which side to take. They still haven’t signed an agreement with any of the European parties. This does not bode well for any kind of defence of Latvia’s interests, because, while prime ministers are preparing for major meetings at the European Council, meet with leaders of political parties, Kučinskis is likely drinking coffee in some embassy,» said the president of European Movement – Latvia.

Full article here

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Latvia shipped 11.7% more oil products in Q1 2018

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

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