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Friday 19.01.2018 | Name days: Alnis, Andulis
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Week in Lithuania. President calls PM's proposal on Russia commission «irresponsible»

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Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has proposed this week to resume political contacts with Moscow and says that the Lithuania-Russia dialog could cover trade relations and energy, agriculture and transport issues, as well as the situation of Lithuanian teachers in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Thursday, January 4, described Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ proposal as «irresponsible».

According to the president, key strategic energy, transport or trade issues have to be dealt with the participation of EU institutions. In Grybauskaitė’s words, bilateral top-level political contacts can take place with countries demonstrating friendly relations.

Officials to draw up rescue plan for European Humanities University

Lithuanian officials plan to draw up a rescue plan for the Vilnius-based European Humanities University (EHU), which is on the brink of closure after getting a repeated negative evaluation from experts. Politicians and officials from the Education and Science Ministry and the Foreign Ministry held an informal meeting on Thursday, January 4, to discuss EHU’s situation. Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė said that the external review of EHU, whose students are mostly from Belarus, had identified its weaknesses. Nora Skaburskienė, director of the Lithuanian Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education, or SKVC, said that EHU needed radical reforms.

Lithuania plans to cut number of state enterprises

Lithuania will likely have only five companies with the status of a state enterprise in half a year’s time, including the Centre of Registers, the state car registration company Regitra, the State Forestry Enterprise, the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and an agricultural regulation company, Economy Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius said on Wednesday, January 3. According to the minister, the reduction of the number of state enterprises is aimed at abandoning certain activities and functions that are not important for the state and transferring some of these to the market. The plan calls for converting some state enterprises, such as Oro Navigacija (Air Navigation), Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports), the Klaipeda state seaport and Kelių Priežiūra (Road Maintenance), into public companies.

Court finds no grounds for indicting infamous author

The Vilnius Regional Court ruled on Wednesday, January 3, that there were no grounds for opening a pre-trial investigation regarding statements by Rūta Vanagaitė, an author and public relations specialist, about Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance commander Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas. Judge Vladislavas Lencikas believes that the writer made a mistake in failing to take all the material and NKVD methods into consideration. He said that Vanagaitė’s remarks were not so dangerous as to require considering subjecting Vanagaitė to criminal liability, noting that she had apologized in public for her comments. The Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office said in November that Vanagaitė’s remarks about Ramanauskas-Vanagas could not be recognized as a crime as there was no evidence that she had deliberately made false statements with the aim of undermining people’s respect.

Rifas to hire 100 amid expansion in Panevėžys

Rifas, a Panevėžys-based electronic system production company operated by Estonian group Harju Elekter, announced of expansion in Lithuania and plans to hire 100 new employees over the next three years in addition to the current staff of 120. Lithuania’s Economy Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius says the enlargement of Rifas is important for the regional economy of Panevėžys. Rifas receives goods and services from about 100 suppliers. Within the coming three years, Rifas plans to hire 100 electrical equipment installers, electrical and 3D mechanical engineers to design and produce systems for industrial companies and new-generation ships.

President acquires plot in Vilnius outskirts

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has paid 75,500 euros for a land site in the outskirts of Vilnius, delfi.lt news portal said on Tuesday, January 2. In a declaration of private interests submitted in late December, Grybauskaitė said that the deal to purchase the land had been finalised. The size of the plot has not been disclosed.

Achema, LTD agree with Gazprom on gas purchases in 2018

Fertilizer manufacturer Achema, Lithuania’s largest single natural gas consumer and the state-owned gas trading company Lietuvos Dujų Tiekimas (Lithuanian Gas Supply, or LDT) reported it had signed in late December contracts with Russia’s gas giant Gazprom on natural gas purchases in 2018. Achema plans to buy around 9 megawatt-hours (MWh), or around two-thirds of its gas, from Gazprom, with the rest to be purchased from Norway’s Statoil through the Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

Lithuania imposes further restrictions on alcohol market

After some tightening of alcohol consumption and sales in Lithuania in 2017, new, tighter restrictions are put in place this year. Starting January 1, all alcohol ads, with a few exceptions, are banned and the legal drinking age is raised from 18 to 20. Alcohol selling hours in retail stores are limited to between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Alcoholic drinks are banned in sports arenas and sports halls during sports events. Cafes, pizzerias and bars will be able to serve alcoholic drinks in outside seating areas within 40 meters of the doors.

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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.

Apple expected to pay additional 38 billion USD in taxes for money kept abroad

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Latvian police commenced three criminal processes for contraband of drugs this year

In the first two weeks of 2018, State Revenue Service’s Customs Police commenced three criminal processes in regards to illegal drugs contraband in postal packages from Lithuania to Latvia.

Betsafe: To Latvia from the Heart has laughable chance of entering next Saeima

With declining ratings, Inguna Sudraba’s party To Latvia from The Heart has been left with laughable chances of entering the next Saeima, Betsafe bookmakers say.

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