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Monday 19.03.2018 | Name days: Jāzeps

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania not affected by problems at Latvia's ABLV Bank

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFinancial problems faced by ABLV, one of Latvia’s biggest commercial banks, will have no impact on the Lithuanian financial system, officials from the central Bank of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Banks’ Association (LBA) said this week. According to Vytautas Valvonis, director of the central bank’s Supervision Service, the Lithuanian financial system has become very independent in recent years. LBA President Mantas Zalatorius also says that ABLV’s turning to the Latvian central bank for financial support will have no impact on the Lithuanian financial system.

Director of major hospital arrested, then released

Kęstutis Strupas, director general of Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos, one of Lithuania’s major hospitals, has been suspended from his job on suspicions of abuse amid a large-scale corruption probe by law-enforcement bodies, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, February 22. The decision to suspend Professor Strupas was made during a meeting of the Health Ministry and Vilnius University, the hospital’s shareholders, it said.

Lithuania’s ex-judge Venckienė nabbed in US

Former Lithuanian judge and former MP Neringa Venckienė has been detained in Chicago, the United States, at Lithuania’s request for refusing to obey a court order to hand over her niece to her mother. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, February 22, that the process of the suspect’s extradition to Lithuania had been initiated. Lithuanian law-enforcement want also to hold her liable for unlawful interfering with a bailiff’s operations and resisting the police.

SD Labour Party to hold assembly in late March

The Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party will hold its constituent assembly on March 24. Gediminas Kirkilas, one of the founders of the party, told journalists on Friday, February 23, the party would have around 3,000 founders. The core of the new party includes old members of the Social Democratic Party that split from the political force last year after it decided to leave the ruling coalition with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

Kaunas set to bring Samsung

Kaunas, Lithuania‘s second-largest city, intends to invest 5 million euros in the territory of a former aviation factory and build the Aleksoto Innovations Park, if approval is secured from the council of Lithuania’s second city next week, with plans to bring the tech giant Samsung there, Kauno Diena daily reported.

International Book Fair opens in Vilnius

The four-day Vilnius Book Fair opened at the exhibition and congress centre Litexpo on Thursday, Februay 22. At the opening of the fair, President Dalia Grybauskaitė noted that this year’s event was special, as it was taking place on the 100-year anniversary of the country’s restored statehood. Held for the 19th time, this year’s fair is expected bring together 53 foreign delegations from 21 countries, including coming from Canada, the United States, Iran, Oman and Israel.

Lithuanian bodies underuse anti-corruption instruments

President Dalia Grybauskaitė says that Lithuania’s failure to improve its position in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perception Index shows that the country’s bodies do not make sufficient use of the instruments they have to curb corruption. Lithuania ranked 38th out of 180 countries surveyed in the index released by Transparency International on Wednesday, February 21, unchanged from last year. This puts Lithuania ahead of Latvia, but behind Poland and Estonia.

Police reform brings positive results

Lithuania’s police reform has produced positive results, but some risks remain unmanaged, Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas said on Thursday, February 22. As the result of the reform, the number of officers on the street has increased by 1.5 times, the rate of response to incidents has increased, too, but not that significantly. With the focus on rapid response, the quality of investigations is at risk, some experts believe.

Constitutional Court to rule on wrongful dismissal

The Lithuanian Constitutional Court on Thursday, February 22, started hearing a case regarding ministers’ personal monetary liability for wrongful dismissal of employees or other wrongful decisions. The issue has been referred to the Constitutional Court by the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court, which is hearing an appeal by Raimundas Palaitis, a former interior minister, who is contesting an order for him to pay over 4,500 euros for firing Osvaldas Šarmavičius as director of the Civil Service Department. Courts have ruled that the director’s dismissal was too severe a disciplinary sanction.

Philip Morris may face fine in Lithuania

Global tobacco giant Philip Morris may face a fine in Lithuania for advertising its electronic smoking device IQOS. Lithuania’s Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department has made a preliminary conclusion that the devise should be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products, but it will adopt its final decision after hearing explanations from the producer.

Tomkus sells 80 pc stake in ELTA

Vitas Tomkus, the owner of the media group Respublikos Leidiniai, has sold 80 per cent of shares in the Lithuanian news agency ELTA. GM Media Invest, a company owned by ELTA CEO Gitana Markovičienė on Wednesday, Wednesday 21, purchased the stake from Tomkus and plans to buy the remaining 20 per cent of shares in the near future, the agency said. GM Media Invest last December purchased the Moteris, Mano Namai, Tavo Vaikas, Cosmopolitan and Panelė magazine publishing business and the websites of these brands from Delfi.

Telia Lithuania says Huawei equipment is safe

After US intelligence agencies have warned that American citizens should not use products made by Huawei, Lithuania’s telecoms company Telia Lietuva says that the Chinese manufacturer’s equipment that it uses is safe. According to the spokesman, Telia Lietuva uses equipment by various manufacturers and has used Huawei products for 10 years now.

Government to allow downing drones over military areas

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, February 21, legal amendments to allow shooting down non-crewed aircraft flying without permission over military areas. The amendments, which will now go to the parliament for approval, would also ban unauthorized drones from flying over military areas and filming or photographing these areas. The proposed legislation would also give authorities the right to persecute or detain persons illegally visualising military areas.

Vilnius seeks over 350 mn euro from France’s Veolia

The city of Vilnius on Monday, February 19, filed a counterclaim against France’s Veolia, which withdrew from the Lithuanian capital’s heat supply sector last spring, and its local subsidiary Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy) with the Stockholm arbitration court, seeking over 350 million euros in damages from the companies. With Vilniaus Energija’s 15-year lease on the Lithuanian capital’s heating system nearing expiration, Veolia and Vilniaus Energija in late 2016 asked the Stockholm arbitration court to appoint an independent valuer of the Vilnius district heat supply system. The dispute was later expanded to include investments and damages incurred by both sides in the city as they failed to agree on the value of the assets.

Court sentences for stealing money from Norwegian companies

A Lithuanian court on Monday, February 19, found three people guilty of stealing 246,000 euros from Norwegian companies by infecting their computers with malware. The Panevėžys regional court sentenced the organizer of the crime, identified by his initials D. S., to six years in prison. Combined with an earlier prison term, the man will spend seven years and a month behind bars.

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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

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

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

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

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

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

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

Washington has introduced sanctions against 19 Russian individuals and five entities blaming them for attempts to sway the 2016 U.S. election and perceived cyber-attacks.

Slovakian PM Fico replaced with fellow party member

Slovakian head of government Robert Fico has stepped down after the murder of a journalist shed light on corruption in Slovakia, prompting nationwide protests. The long-standing Prime Minister had offered to resign earlier this week if the ruling coalition was allowed to finish its term.

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

Starting with Sunday, 18 March, air temperature in Latvia will rise above zero in most of the country, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s ruling LFGU party remains unscathed by scandals

It seems that, for now, Lithuania‘s ruling Farmers and Green Union has been nearly damage-proof despite the lambasting.

Latvian Civic Alliance: non-government sector should aim towards cooperation

Latvian Civic Alliance has invited the management of Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to meet to discuss ongoing cooperation between organizations representing the business sector and the NGO sector.

Saeima rejects National Alliance’s proposal to make 16 March an official remembrance day

Latvia’s Saeima has decided to reject the proposal submitted by the National Alliance on making 16 March an official remembrance day.

43.6% of Latvian households have difficulties with making ends meet

In 2017 the share of households admitting that pay for usual necessary expenses with difficulty or great difficulty constituted 43.6 %, which is 1.5 percentage points more than in 2016.

Saeima voices support for Rail Baltica project’s progression

On Thursday, 15 March, the Saeima made a decision to support Rail Baltica project’s progression. In its decision, the parliament invited Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers to provide all the necessary support for the project’s successful realization to ensure the project is realized in accordance with established terms and does not lose funding or support from the European Union, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Fast snow shovelling linked to cardiac fatalities, Finnish study finds

In Finish doctoral study, it has been concluded that snow should be shovelled calmly, not provoking stress and increased adrenaline in human blood that could lead to cardiac arrest.

Riga’s mayor spent at least eight million euros of residents’ money to promote himself

Over the course of the past three years, at least EUR 8 million of residents’ money has been used to promote the image of the Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs. This money was used to buy media, employ young members of Harmony, and finance ‘in-house protestors’ and using social networks, as estimated by Re:Baltica research journalism center.

Slovenia's head of government resigns amid protests and struggling railway investment

The Slovenian head of government Miro Cerar has stepped down from office in reaction to troubles with an expensive railway project and mounting opposition by trade unions.

NAF Commander: Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned

Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned, Commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces Leonīds Kalniņš told journalists after his meeting with Commander of Estonia’s Defence Forces Riho Terras.

Estonia's switch to free higher education proved right choice, says Ratas

The switch to free higher education made by Estonia in 2013 has proved to be the right choice for a small country, even though critics have pointed to potentially less motivated students, has stated the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

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