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Week in Lithuania. Lietuvos Energija CEO questioned by Special Investigation Service

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Lietuvos Energija building in Vilnius

Dalius Misiūnas, chairman of the management board and CEO of the state-owned energy group Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy), on Thursday, August 31, was questioned by Special Investigation Service (STT) officials.

Misiūnas did not stop to answer questions by journalist after he left the STT building in Vilnius. He said that he had been questioned as a witness.STT informed on Thursday, August 31, that it had opened a pre-trial investigation into a suspected leaking of classified information made available to the Finance Ministry about a candidate to become a member of Lietuvos Energija’s supervisory board. The agency would not comment in more detail about the probe.

Seimas Speaker wants a Marshall plan for Ukraine

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, and his Ukrainian counterpart discussed a proposed plan for EU financial aid for Ukraine, dubbed as «the new Marshall plan», as they met in Kiev on Thursday, August 31. The initiative was raised last year by Andrius Kubilius, a former Lithuanian prime minister, who along with Gediminas Kirkilas, another former prime minister and now deputy speaker of the Seimas, have visited major western European capitals to promote the plan.

Six bidders seek Rail Baltica section construction contract

Lithuania’s state railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has received six bids in its second attempt to select a contractor for the construction of the European-gauge railway Rail Baltica section between Kaunas and Palemonas. The bidders include a consortium of Warbud, one of Poland’s largest infrastructure construction groups, and ZEU. Warbud has renovated the Pac Palace in Vilnius, which houses the Polish embassy. The bidders also include a consortium of the French-owned road building company Eurovia Lietuva and Eurovia, Latvia’s A.C.B bidding jointly with BMGS, a consortium of Panevėžio Statybos Trestas, Panevėžio Keliai and Šiaulių Plentas, Hidrostatyba jointly with Leonhard Weiss and Autokausta, and a consortium of Geležinkelio Tiesimo Centras and Kauno Tiltai.

Three suspects nabbed in hacking probe

Three suspects were detained in Lithuania’s second-biggest city of Kaunas on Wednesday, August 30, as part of a probe into stealing of patients’ records from the cosmetic surgery clinic Grožio Chirurgija, police said on Thursday, August 31. Hackers stole personal information of the clinic’s clients and photos before and after procedures. It is suspected that the hackers demanded money from Lithuanian and foreign nationals for not making their personal data public.

 PM wants to step up fight against shadow economy

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis wants the country’s tax and law-enforcement authorities to step up their fight against the shadow economy. «The police, the Financial Crime Investigation Service, the Customs, the Tax Inspectorate — these bodies have to more substantially and actively contribute to curbing the shadow economy. Today we do not see the breakthrough we expect,» he said on a radio station on Thursday, August 31. Estimates of the size of the shadow economy in Lithuania vary between 15 per cent and 30 per cent.

 PM to seek supportfrom all political groups

With the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) considering pulling out of the ruling coalition with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that he will seek support for his government’s program from all political groups in the parliament. The LFGU’s prime minister will meet with the leaders of all political groups in the Seimas by the end of next week. The parliament’s fall session will begin on Sept. 10. Gintautas Paluckas, the new LSDP leader, and the majority of the party’s branches are in favour of withdrawing from the coalition, but the Social Democrats’ political group in the Seimas and their ministers want the party to stay in government.

Seven fighters land in Lithuania ahead of Zapad drills

The United States has boosted the Baltic air policing mission as Russian and Belarus prepare to hold large-scale military exercise Zapad in September. Seven US F-15C Eagle fighter-jets landed in the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ Siauliai air base on Tuesday, the Defence Ministry informed.

Dairy companyramps up position in global market

The planned acquisition of a stake in Rokiškio Sūris by New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterra will help the Lithuanian dairy company to expand its product range and strengthen its position in the global market, Rokiškio Sūris Chairman Dalius Trumpa said on Tuesday, August 29. Trumpa expects that Fonterra’s investment will help Rokiškio Sūris to launch new products and strengthen its position in the global dairy market.

PM backs benefits for Landsbergis, not president’s status

PM Saulius Skvernelis thinks that Lithuania’s first post-Soviet leader Vytautas Landsbergis should be granted benefits that a former head of state is entitled to by law, but not the status of a president. According to Skvernelis, Landsbergis was the head of state when he served as the speaker of the Supreme Council–Reconstituent Seimas and, therefore, should be entitled to protection and staff and office expenses. Viktoras Pranckietis, the current speaker of the Seimas, last week raised the issue of granting Landsbergis the status of a former head of state and associated benefits. He said that he was watching the situation to see if such a proposal would receive enough support in the parliament. Earlier attempts to formally recognize the status for Landsbergis fell through.

Lithuania, Portugal face similar security challenges

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined after meeting with her Portuguese counterpart, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on Tuesday, August 29, that the two NATO member states face similar challenges. Grybauskaitė thanked Portugal for its support, which she said intensified immediately after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The president also noted that Lithuania and Portugal take a similar view to Europe’s energy policy. Both countries have built liquefied natural gas terminals. The Portuguese president stressed that the two countries usually have similar positions on key EU issues and said that Portugal understands and supports Lithuania in its concerns over nuclear energy issues.

Municipalities receive over 80 new school buses

The Lithuanian Education and Science Ministry transferred 82 new school buses to municipalities. Fifty-five municipalities will receive the new buses in a ceremony in Vilnius. Twenty-two of the municipalities will be given two buses each. Over the past 17 years, the ministry has purchased 903 such buses, which are used to transport schoolchildren living more than 3 kilometres away from school. The yellow-painted buses drive around 20,000 schoolchildren to and back from school daily.

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Week in Lithuania. Fake news on Lithuanian Defence Minister planted on news portal

The Tv3. lt news website was hacked on Thursday, January 18 - a fake news story about Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis was posted claiming that Karoblis allegedly harassed Ridas Jasiulionis, a journalist at the Žinių Radijas radio station, and admitted being gay.

BNN summary of the week: final report on Oligarchs case and ordered attacks on e-health

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Attack; Growth; Decline; Opinion; and Study.

Economist: the most important reform has to happen in people’s heads

«Of all the clever things taught to us in school about psychology, one thing that has stuck with me over the years is the idea of internal/external control point. There are people who believe they make their own fate. There are also people who believe our fate depends on external powers. I suspect people in Latvia explain successes and failures with external factors much more than people in Switzerland or any other country that has enjoyed its freedom longer than Latvia,» comments Luminor Bank’s economist Pēteris Strautiņš.

Minister promises bigger wages for working people and support for country’s industry

«Latvian Economy Ministry’s priorities for 2018 include increasing wages for working people and providing support to the country’s industry. For Latvia’s centenary year, every resident should have the right to experience the increase of the personal and state welfare,» promises Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvenergo: electricity price has declined 30% in the past three years

Average electricity price in Latvia has declined in recent years. The average price of electricity has declined by 30% at Nord Pool exchange between 2014 and 2017, allowing end user costs to decline, says Latvenergo.

Alcohol sellers in Estonia to be checked by little «police»

To find shop assistants illegally selling alcohol or tobacco to minors, Estonian police introduces the method of sending minors as police aides to retail shops to try to purchase the products banned to them.

EY study: cyber security has become a priority to banks this year

Over the course of the year, priorities of banks around the world have switched from reputation and risk management to data security matters, as concluded in the latest EY Global Banking Outlook 2018.

Political association: UGF and Harmony are covering up state capture

«Parliamentary investigation of Oligarchs case has shown what is what in the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia. Green farmers are in full harmony, covering up Aivars Lembergs and the fact of state capture. They and Inguna Sudraba have made the parliamentary investigation into a farce. Unfortunately, the power in those people’s hands is no farce – rather misfortune for all of Latvia. I hope citizens will take all that into account when they go voting,» says leader of Kustība Par! Daniels Pavļuts.

Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel plan lacks ambition, says «Angry Birds» game maker

While Finland and Estonia work on plans of an under-sea tunnel from Tallinn to Helsinki, the construction of which could start in the 2030s, a Finnish businessman, previously involved in development of Angy Birds video game, has presented plans to finish the massive construction project in 2024 already.

Experts: healthcare financing law will deny healthcare to the least protected

In a discussion regarding healthcare, experts said that Latvian President Raimonds Vējoņis’ proposed Healthcare Financing Law is economically unjustified and ineffective. The document lacks principles of a socially responsible state, because healthcare is becoming less accessible, which will likely worsen public health indexes, says Kustība Par! political party.

Branded «aggressor state», Russia says Ukraine buries Minsk peace agreements

As the Donbas War continues, the parliament of Ukraine has passed the so-called Donbas reintegration bill after three days of debates defining territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country as temporarily occupied by Russia.

Weather to remain winter-like in Latvia during the weekend and next week

On Friday and Saturday, no major increase of snow is expected. Air temperature will increase slightly, but colder masses of air will slow into the country on Sunday, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Winter storm in Netherlands and Germany turns tragic

A powerful winter storm in western and central Europe has claimed the lives of eight people.

Lithuanian bishops: skipping fasting on February 16 this year is not a sin

In an unprecedented move, the Conference of Lithuanian Bishops, the governing body of the Lithuanian Catholic Church, said that meat dishes okay for the people of faith on February 16, which marks the 100-year anniversary of Lithuania's statehood and the Lent Friday, which is traditionally a day of fasting for religious Catholic people.

Coincidence? Votes from Harmony and UGF ensure Sudraba remains the head of Oligarchs case committee

On Thursday, 18 January, the majority of Saeima members voted against the proposal to dismiss Inguna Sudraba from the post of the head of parliamentary investigative committee in charge of the review of the infamous Oligarchs case.

Kaljulaid criticised over involvement of acclaimed, but unrestrained director in centennial reception

As Estonia readies for the presidential reception to honour the 100th anniversary of Estonia, its President Kersti Kaljulaid is being criticised in an open letter for trusting Tallinn’s NO99 theatre, whose director physically assaulted a female colleague.

22.1% of Latvia’s residents subjected to risk of poverty

In 2017, 425 thousand persons or 22.1 % of Latvia population were at risk of poverty in 2016 – 0.3 percentage points less than in 2015. Equivalent income of this part of the population were below 330 euros monthly.

LAAC: Latvia’s milk market can be sorted out by joining forces in exports

Latvian Association of Agricultural Cooperatives (LAAC) has received support and praise for the public discussion regarding rapid milk procurement price changes, which is something that has recently affected the majority of agricultural cooperatives. This has helped cooperatives band together in order to sort out the milk market. This idea came from the example set by grain producer cooperatives, which did the same thing fifteen years ago, as reported by the association’s representatives.

Forevers announces its decision to exit from Latvian Federation of Food Companies

Forevers meat processing company has decided to exit from Latvian Federation of Food Companies (LFFC). The contract between two parties will be terminated in January.

Saeima’s Oligarchs case investigative committee hastily approves final report

In spite of objections, grammatical errors, criticisms about lacking effort, as well as Inguna Sudraba’s unfit status to lead the committee, members decided to move the meeting from 11:00 to 08:00 and approve the final report in a rushed vote.

Removal of 1 and 2 euro cent coins from circulation suggested by Bank of Estonia

Estonian central bank is willing to follow the eurozone trend of limiting the circulation of euro 1-cent and 2-cent coins and in time to remove them entirely from circulation in the Baltic country.

Cert.lv: attacks on e-health system and LETA were likely ordered

Attacks on e-health system and LETA agency were likely ordered, said Cert.lv deputy manager Varis Teivāns in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

As Catalan parliament reconvenes, it elects pro-independence speaker

The Catalan regional parliament has in its first sitting since its ousting and snap December election elected a separatist-minded politician as its Chairman, which indicates that the attempts to break the region away from Spain would continue.

Latvia’s National Armed forces receive new Harris tactical radio equipment

In 2017, Latvia received tactical military radios worth USD 10.5 million from American Harris Corporation. Procurement of radio equipment will further improve command function and help develop a lasting communication system with other NATO member states, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

MEP: Europe continues strengthening its energy independence

«The European Parliament has voiced strong support towards Europe’s energy independence and moving its energy policy away from Russia’s monopoly by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources,» said MEP Krišjānis Kariņš after the vote on Clean Energy Act’s first reading in Strasbourg.

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