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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian businesspeople mentioned in Panama Papers

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A number of well-known Lithuanian businessmen linked to offshore companies, as well as several politicians with assets registered in Panama, the tax haven, are mentioned in the Panama Papers, says a Lithuanian journalist working on the global project aiming to expose possible tax evasion.

Šarūnas Černiauskas, the project’s representative in Lithuania, claims that the documents name a number of Lithuanian businesspeople linked to offshore companies.

«There are a number of businesspeople who are known to the public. We have also identified two individuals who are closely linked to well-known Lithuanian politicians,» Černiauskas told national TV station LRT.

The former president of the Lithuanian Football Federation and the owner of an offshore company that handled million-dollar transactions and owned the Sports Palace in Vilnius is one among the Lithuanian faces in the Panama Papers, according to the journalist.

Lithuania’s Rio Olympics medal expectations

Lithuanian Olympians are expected to win at least two medals at Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games this summer, believes the country’s National Olympic Committee president Daina Gudzinevičiūtė. Participating in the parliamentary Youth and Sports Affairs Commission, she said the goal for Lithuanian athletes is to claim five «top positions», which is eighth spot and above. In all, about 70 Lithuanians are to compete at Rio Games, Gudzinevičiūtė says.

Lithuania’s economy lags behind Estonia

According to Rokas Grajauskas, economist for Danske Bank, it will take three to four years for Lithuania’s economy to reach where Estonia is today. In his words, Lithuanian businesses adapted well to the Russian embargo, which gives hope for the fastest growth of exports in the Baltic region this year

National Land Service deputy chief apprehended

Deputy Director of the Lithuanian National Land Service, former Interior minister Gintaras Jonas Furmanavičius, was detained by law enforcement officers on Wednesday, April 6. The Special Investigation Service says he is suspected of influence peddling.

Lithuania and Germany together remember Jews’ rescuers

President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with the initiators of a unique project carried out in Lithuania and Germany to support the rescuers of Jews. The project was launched at the initiative of the Order of Malta and the Lithuanian Jewish community. The aim of the project is to support people living in Lithuania who rescued Jews during the Second World War. President Dalia Grybauskaitė and German President Joachim Gauck serve as co-patrons of this initiative.

«The righteous among the nations attested humanity even in the very darkest hours of our history. Lithuania and Germany together remember their courage and sacrifice, we will always be grateful to the Righteous Among the Nations for their heroism and nobleness. This project unites people and countries, builds bridges between the past and the future, and does not allow indifference to prevail,» the president said.

Real estate sales grow 23 percent in March

March in Lithuania’s real estate market has been intense with 23 percent more deals concluded in March than the previous month.

Conservatives’ once trouble-maker leaves party to join Peasant and Greens Union

Long-time member of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, MP Egidijus Vareikis, who has dealt with alcohol abuse-related issues, is leaving the Conservative party to join the Peasant and Greens Union. The Union has been ascending in the polls and caught up with the Labour Party and Order and Justice Party in the rankings.

Vasiliauskas re-appointed governor of Lithuania’s central bank

Vitas Vasiliauskas, board chairman of the central Bank of Lithuania, will head the bank for another five-year term.  In a secret ballot on Thursday, April 7, his appointment for the second term in office was supported by 59 members of parliament, with 23 voting against and 17 abstaining. Three ballot papers were invalidated. Vasiliauskas was proposed for the second term by President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Vasiliauskas has chaired the central bank since April 16, 2011, and his first five-year mandate will expire on April 15, 2021.

Lithuania’s star swimmer’s father offends gays

Invited by the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) to participate in the Baltic Pride event in Vilnius in June, the League received an unexpected answer from Saulius Meilutis, the father of Lithuania’s Olympic hope Rūta Meilutytė and head of her name fund. Meilutis in his reply called gay people a «nature’s anomaly» and said he could not support the march. An LGL representative had sent a letter to Meilutytė charity fund inviting the Olympic and European champion and record holder to participate in the Baltic Pride 2016 fundraising dinner. Meilutytė was swift to respond her father does not reflect the views she and the organization have on the LGBT community.

Russia sentences Lithuanian national for spying BNS

Russian court has sentenced Lithuanian national Aristidas Tamošaitis to 12 years in prison for spying, according to Lithuania’s Ambassador in Moscow Remigijus Motuzas.

Proposals to outlaw disinformation

Critics say that the Lithuanian intelligence body’s proposals to make spreading disinformation a criminal offence in order «to step up information security» are reminiscent of the Soviet times and may lead to restrictions on the freedom of expression. «Such proposals remind me of an article in the Soviet-era Criminal Code that prohibited tarnishing Soviet reality,» Virgis Valentinavičius, associate professor at Mykolas Romeris University, told.

PM: relations between Lithuania and Georgia are based on respect and common values

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius received Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze. Bilateral relations were discussed at the meeting, as well as the cooperation between Georgia and the European Union. «The cooperation between Lithuania and Georgia is indeed exceptional, based on mutual understanding and the friendship between our nations. I am confident that the relations between our countries will continue to grow in a spirit of solidarity, respect for sovereignty, human rights, European values and principles of good neighbourhood», said Prime Minister Butkevičius at the meeting.

Lithuanian Ambassador and Knesset Speaker discuss Lithuanian-Israeli partnership

The Ambassador of Lithuania to Israel Edminas Bagdonas met with the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. The officials discussed the visit of members of the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania to Israel on March 27-30 and agreed to strengthen the partnership between Lithuania and Israel.

 Maxima shareholder sells his stake

Vilniaus Prekyba Group shareholder Žilvinas Marcinkevičius has sold his 15 percent stake in the company to its majority shareholder Nerijus Numavičius after a court rejected an injunction request

Seimas’ impeachment against Labour Party MP

The Lithuanian parliament moved on Thursday, April 7, to launch an impeachment process against Labour Party MP Vytautas Gapšys. The Seimas passed a resolution by a vote of 87 to two, with 27 abstentions, to ask the Constitutional Court to look into whether Gapšys can continue to serve as an MP after he was convicted for cooking his party’s accounting books.

Cargo traffic at Klaipeda port grew by 10.2 percent

The Lithuanian seaport of Klaipėda handled 9.962 million tons of cargo in the first quarter of the year of 2016, indicating a rise of 10.2 percent from 9.042 million tons reloaded in the same period last year, data from the port authority suggests. In March alone, cargo traffic through the port increased by an annual 14.9 percent to 3.452 million tons.

In the January-March period, liquid cargo volumes rose by an annual 35 percent to 3.186 tons. General cargo volumes increased by 7.7 percent to 3.045 million tons, whereas bulk and dry bulk cargo volumes fell by 3.2 percent to 3.731 million tons. Oil throughput at Lithuania’s Butingė crude terminal, which is owned by Orlen Lietuva, the Lithuanian subsidiary of Poland’s PKN Orlen, rose by 25.9 percent in the first quarter of this year from the same period last year.

Russian troops «could have landed on Lithuanian coast»

MP Artūras Paulauskas, chairman of the parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee, suggested in an interview that Russian forces could have landed on the Lithuanian coast of the Curonian Spit during military exercise.

President officially sets election date

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė has signed a decree, calling the general elections on October 9, her press office said on Thursday, April 7. The president’s decree will take effect on April 9, marking an official start of election campaigning. Under the law, the date of general elections is to be announced no later than six months before the four-year mandate of the incumbent parliament expires.

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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania set to step up defence ties with the United States

Lithuania is set to step up defence ties with the United States by signing the first bilateral cooperation agreement.

Economic Diary of Latvia. To tempt Brexit defectors

Latvia had the slowest growth of GDP among Baltic States in Q3 2016, according to the latest data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. Nevertheless, this does not seem to prevent Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis from hoping for GDP growth of 4-5% a year in the future.

Following an investment of 3.3 million, K-rauta becomes K Senukai

On Friday, 2 December, Baltics’ largest construction, repair and household goods store network Kesko Senukai opened its first new concept shopping centre K Senukai in Riga, Lucavsalas Street. This venture cost the company EUR 3.3 million.

Saeima deputies allocated record-large amount of money for «friend projects»

The money of Latvia’s budget for next year allocated not with the intention to solve problems in priority industries but rather to satisfy desires of certain politicians and their lobby groups has reached an astonishing new peak – EUR 27.9 million, according to estimates, as reported by Ir.

Income from foreign travellers in Latvia declines

In Q3 2016, Latvia’s current account had a surplus of EUR 93.4 million or 1.5% of GDP, notes Bank of Latvia economist Linda Vecgaile.

airBaltic to sell Boeing 737 after replacing them with Bombardier CS300

Latvian national airBaltic airline intends to gradually update its fleet with Bombardier CS300 aircraft. The airline plans to sell its owned Boeing 737, says Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic.

Numbers of active voters in Latvia continue to decline before next year’s elections

47% of Latvian vote-ready citizens plan to take part in next year’s municipal elections, according to results of a survey carried out by SKDS following a request from the Central Election Commission in November.

BATL: transit industry’s potential is enormous, but not used to its fullest

Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics is satisfied that real and constructive work has commenced in cooperation with LDz Logistics and Transport and Communications Institute on Latvia’s transport and logistics, including the development of a strategy for the transit industry.

Ominous milestone: one-millionth Lithuanian to leave soon

The statisticians claim that, every day, 120 Lithuanians hop onto Scandinavia and Western Europe-bound planes in search of a better life. This month, Lithuania is likely to reach an ominous and heart-wrenching milestone with the country‘s émigré number expected to go over one million. To calm down the naysayers, the estimate is unofficial.

Snowy weekends expected in Latvia

The first days of December will go by under influence from a cyclone. Because of that, many regions of the country are expected to experience snowfall. Rain is only expected along the coast. Ice is expected to form as a result and visibility will likely reduce because of snowfall.

Three European cities plan to ban diesel cars

Looking for ways to improve their quality of air, the mayors of Madrid, Paris and Athens have on December 1 expressed readiness to introduce bans on cars and trucks with diesel engines by 2025.

French President Hollande refuses to run for re-election

France’s President François Hollande has unexpectedly announced that he would not run for re-election to the post.

Several hundred Estonian reserve soldiers summoned to unexpected drills

The cabinet of ministers of Estonia ordered on December 1 to hold snap military drills to test the ability of reserve troops to reach combat readiness in 24 hours.

Freight turnover and freight traffic declines at ports

Compared to Q3 2015, the volume of freights carried by land and pipeline transport has decreased by 1.8 million tonnes or 5.5 % in Q3 2016. The most notable drop in the volume of freights carried was recorded in rail transport – of 2.3 million tonnes or 18.9 %.

EU 2017 budget to provide the most support to youth and growth initiatives

In the next year’s budget, members of the European Parliament have secured larger support to unemployed youngsters and Erasmus+, as well as initiatives for support of small and medium-sized businesses, transport infrastructure projects and research. Commitment appropriations for 2017 total EUR 157.8578 billion, and payment appropriations EUR 134.49 billion.

Vejonis picks Kalnins as candidate for NAF commander

President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis has decided to propose National Armed Forces Joint Staff Chief Leonids Kalnins for the post of commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces. Kalnins was previously proposed by Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, according to information from LETA.

Europol releases its Christmas calendar of EU’s most wanted criminals

European Union’s police body Europol has engaged in the often commercial pre-festive period by releasing Christmas advent calendar that will reveal one of bloc’s most wanted criminals every day up until Christmas.

Expert: Latvia’s real estate market is sick

In medical terms, Latvia’s real estate market is currently sick. It will only recover once all transactions are carried out using actual market price and those whose expectations are overestimated – drop out, said real estate specialist, member of Latvian Real Estate Association and board member of Real State Jurmala Igors Danilevics.

Prime Minister: Latvia’s economic growth is not as fast as it was expected in 2015

«Looking at national economy’s growth dynamics in 2016, we have noticed drastically different ratings. On the one hand, there are positive statistics that prove Latvia’s economic growth continues. It is not as fast as it was expected in 2015. It is expected that growth will continue in the future. A few days ago opinions of multiple banking experts appeared in the public space, saying that wage growth in Latvia will speed up next year. I would associate that with the government’s decisions and the Saeima’s approved budget for 2017,» – said Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.

Estonia’s coalition distances itself from charges against ruling party

The coalition partners of Estonia’s Centre Party, which is headed by the Estonian Prime Minister, have this week distanced themselves from charges brought against the ruling party for allegedly receiving illegal political donations.

Finland’s Prime Minister blamed for attempts to limit press freedom

The Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä has denied allegations that he has attempted to affect, how press covers allegations against him and his relatives.

Restrictions for alimony avoiders and other decisions viewed by the Saeima

On Thursday, 1 December, the Saeima will decide on the new Subsistence Guarantee Fund Law. This law states that driving rights can be revoked for alimony avoiders.

OPEC oil exporters agree to reduce oil output to increase price

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on November 30 for the first time since 2008 to reduce oil supply in an attempt to make global oil prices grow. The organisatrion’s head Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada stated that a cut of 1.2 million barrels a day would start from January

Tragic dormitory fire in Turkey

Police in southern Turkey has detained six people after 11 pupils and a teacher died in a dorm fire.

Tick encephalitis infection cases increased by one-third in Latvia this year

Cold November forced ticks to enter hibernation. There is reason to believe tick activity in Latvia has ended for this year, admits entomologist Voldemars Spungis.

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