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Monday 21.05.2018 | Name days: Ingmārs, Ernestīne, Akvelīna
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Week in Lithuania. Init fined for broadcasting Russian TV channel RTR Planeta

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULithuania’s Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) on Wednesday, April 25, imposed a fine of 150,000 euros on the cable operator Init for defying its ban on retransmitting RTR Planeta and other versions of the Russian-language channel. LRTK in February imposed a one-year suspension on RTR Planeta for distributing content inciting to war and hatred. TV service providers had until February 23 to stop RTR Planeta retransmissions in Lithuania. However, Init on March 1 was still rebroadcasting Rossiya RTR, one of the version of the channel. The Law on the Provision of Information to the Public allows LRTK to impose a fine of up to 3 per cent of a rebroadcaster’s total annual revenue or a fine of up to 100,000 euros if it is difficult or impossible to calculate its total revenue.

Minister calls Nord Stream 2 a threat to EU solidarity

Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas on Thursday, April 26, reiterated that Nord Stream 2, an underwater gas pipeline to be built in the Baltic Sea, will make the European Union even more energy-dependent and will let Russia strengthen its influence on the European energy sector. The Lithuanian minister said so after signing with his Ukrainian counterpart a joint statement on threats posed by the Nord Stream 2 project.

Čili pizza chain plans expansion in Riga

Lithuanian pizzeria operator Čili Pica announced it is set to embark on a drive to expand its new Čili Take Away chain with plans to more than treble the number of outlets this year. The company expects to have 10 to 15 Čili Take Away outlets in Lithuania and Latvia at the end of the year. Čili Pica CEO Donatas Vaitašius says that the company plans to open its first Čili Take Away in Riga shortly, with up to five outlets to be set up in Latvia by the end of 2018. Investments in each outlet will amount to around 100,000 euros.  Čili Pica last year posted 16 million euros in revenue, a rise of 2 per cent compared with 2016, and is targeting a further 10 per cent growth in revenue this year.

Lithuania hands note to Belarus

Lithuania has asked Belarus to provide it, as soon as possible, with detailed information about an incident that occurred on the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant site on February 17.  Belarus’ ambassador to Lithuania, Aleksandr Korol, was on Thursday, April 26, summoned to the Foreign Ministry and handed a diplomatic note over the incident. In the note, Lithuania asks Belarus to thoroughly investigate the causes of the fire and to immediately provide detailed information about the incident and the actions taken. The Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant’s press service has confirmed this week that an incident took place.

Regional Jewish community to be formed in Vilnius

A new regional Jewish community is being founded in Vilnius, to be led by long-standing president of Lithuanian sports club Makabi, Semionas Finkelšteinas. Representatives of the new association informed about its establishment on Thursday, April 26, further raising tension among Jewish organizations. Simonas Gurevičius, head of Vilnius Jewish Community, says not all willing were able to attend the founding meeting, and believes the new community is being established to support Faina Kukliansky, head of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

President signs law on EU-Canada trade agreement

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Thursday, April 26, signed a law on the ratification of the trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. Currently around 150 Lithuanian companies export to Canada, with as many as 80 percent of being small or medium”, according to a statement issued by the presidential office. The EU-Canada trade agreement will eliminate 99 percent of duties and other trade barriers, promote investments, open the Canadian service and public procurement markets to businesses from Lithuania and other EU states and will contribute to the creation of jobs and growth in Lithuania.

Seimas starts discussions on legalising home births

The Seimas of Lithuania (Parliament) is starting discussions on legalising home births. On Thursday, April 26, the parliament gave its initial backing to amendments initiated by the Ministry of Health and they will now go to the parliamentary Committee on Health Affairs for further consideration. The amendments will allow nurses and obstetricians to deliver babies at home if there’s no threat to the health of the baby and mother. In the cases of risky births, the birth will have to take place in hospital. The Ministry of Health says this area has not been properly regulated so far.

Vilnius mayor wants to take advantage of pope visit

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius hopes to make use of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit in September to promote the Lithuanian capital and attract more tourists. The mayor on Thursday discussed details of the visit with Vilnius Archbishop Gintaras Grušas. According to Šimašius, Vilnius authorities plan to organise any maintenance work in the city in a way that will not disturb the visit, and major focus will be put on the media accompanying the pope. Around 200 journalists from around the world will come to Vilnius with the pope, the municipality said.

UEFA: Lithuania is last in terms of football infrastructure

Lithuania comes in last in Europe in terms of football infrastructure, Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, the European association football governing body, says. He noted, however, following his Wednesday meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Tomas Danilevičius, president of the Lithuanian Football federation (LFF), that Lithuania is an important UEFA member.

Furniture maker Vilniaus Baldai to build a new plant

Vilniaus Baldai (Vilnius Furniture), one of Lithuania’s leading furniture manufacturers, is set to invest 50 million euros in a new factory and create 100 new jobs within the next three years as it plans to increase production after signing a long-term contract with Sweden’s furniture retail giant Ikea. Vilniaus Baldai says it plans to build new production and warehousing facilities on a land plot to be purchased outside of Vilnius.

Lithuanian beef export to Morocco gets green light

Lithuanian companies have received the green light to export beef to Morocco. Lithuania’s State Food and Veterinary Service has received confirmation from Moroccan officials that a veterinary certificate has been approved.


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Riga City Council changes internal rules again; each deputy given ten-minute limit for questions

On Monday, 21 May, Riga City Council changed its rules for Q&A sessions, providing a ten-minute limit for each deputy to ask questions. This is the third time the city council has changed its internal rules.

Committee head: EU funds would help secure meaningful education for youngsters

«Seven to eight thousand youngsters leave Latvia every year. While ten years ago 13 to 25 year old youngsters formed 20% of the country’s population, their proportion dropped to 13% in 2017,» says Saeima’s European Affairs Committee chairperson Lolita Čigāne.

River Emajõgi guarded by mass protest against pulp mill

In Tartu, human chain has been formed by about 4 500 people in protest against the plan to build a billion-euro pulp factory near the River Emajõgi, the organisers of the event have stated.

Association: loan repayment indexes improve in non-bank consumption loan segment

In 2017, members of Latvian Association of Alternative Financial Services issued in loans EUR 180.5 million. Compared to 2016, this is an increase of 6.9%. Members’ credit portfolio was EUR 88.7 million at the end of 2017, which is 8.1% more than a year ago.

Estonian producer prices higher by 2.1 on year, due to energy supplies

Estonian producer price index of industrial output increased by 2.1% between April 2017 and April this year, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Vitol: limitation of shell companies’ activities cannot possibly affect transit companies

Changes to the law that provide restrictions for shell companies cannot possibly affect transit companies. Because of that, claims voiced prior to adoption of said amendments and their possible impact on transit sector seem rather confusing, says Vitol Baltic chairman Robert Kirkup.

De Facto: Latvian minister’s business partner manufactures ships for Russian army

Latvian Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs’ business partner in Piebalgas alus brewery – Russian businessman Igor Shekhelev – manufactures ships for the Russian army, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.

Property-sharing site Airbnb agrees to share owner income with tax authority

The home-renting service Airbnb has agreed to automatically report homeowners' income to tax authorities in Denmark in a landmark agreement, which is expected to make it easier to detect tax evasion by homeowners, who are renting out rooms and houses on the website.

Latvia shipped 11.7% more oil products in Q1 2018

As part of the postponed excise tax payment regime, the volume of oil products shipped from Latvia in Q1 2018 was 13,869 or 11.7% larger than the one recorded in the same period of 2017, according to data compiled by the State Revenue Service.

What have Italian makers of government agreed on?

In Italy, the two populist parties preparing form a national government have published joint policies including tax cuts, a guaranteed basic income for the poor and deportations of 500,000 migrants.

Thunderstorms expected in Latvia this week as well

On Monday, 21 May, weather in Latvia will not change much – dry and not cloudy for the most part. On Tuesday and Wednesday, however, precipitation areas will pass through Latvia, bringing heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and strong wind, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

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.