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Saturday 22.07.2017 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina
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Week in Lithuania. Swedish meatballs arrive on army dishes

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Lithuania’s Armed Forces have revised menus for troops starting May to include more options, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday, May 11.

The new menu will offer more fresh vegetables, salads and fruit. The stationary canteen will also serve cooked pasta with Bolognese sauce, curd spreads with herbs and vegetables, hot pepper stew, Swedish meatballs with sauce, even burgers and many other meals, which were not on the menu of Lithuanian troops, the press release says.

President will support non-Lithuanian names in passports with approval from watchdog

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė will support the proposals to allow non-Lithuanian characters of the Latin alphabet on the main page of personal documents, if a green light is received from the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language.

She spoke shortly after the bill on the spelling of first and last names in documents passed the first reading in the Seimas in a vote of 64 to 25 with 13 abstentions and will now be discussed at parliamentary committees. The bill is expected to return to the full parliament on Jun. 20.

The parliament also discussed an alternative version where the original names would be entered on an additional passport of the passport. The bill, which follows the Latvian example, was supported by 53 parliamentarians, 19 were against and 25 abstained.

Lithuanian Railways to scrap Vilnius-Moscow passenger service

Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, or LG) is scrapping its passenger service between Vilnius and Moscow in a move that is expected to save the state railway company 2 million euros annually, but passengers will continue to be able to take a Russian train to the Russian capital.

Starting next Monday, May 15 2017, LG’s cars will not be added to the Russian train traveling from Kaliningrad to Moscow via Vilnius LG last year saw the number of passengers on the Vilnius-Moscow service drop by 27 percent compared with 2015.

About 160 Lithuanian troops participate in military drills in Estonia

Around 160 Lithuanian troops will be taking part in the Spring Storm (Kevadtorm 2017) military exercise in Estonia for the next two weeks, the Lithuanian Defence Ministry said on Friday, May 12. Most of the troops are conscript soldiers from the Grand Duchess Birute Uhlan Battalion, it said. The Spring Storm drills have been held in Estonia annually since 2003.

President visits Southeast Asia

President Dalia Grybauskaitė left on Friday, May 12, for a visit to Thailand and Indonesia. Grybauskaitė will visit Thailand first, where she will meet with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for talks on boosting economic, science and education and culture ties between the two countries. The Thai princess last year paid an official visit to Lithuania.

Power outage cripples 9,000 Lithuanian households

Around 9,000 households in the regions of Vilnius and Kaunas were without electricity on Thursday, May 11, after a heavy snowfall in the eastern and central parts of the country overnight, the power distribution grid operator said. At 8 a.m., there were almost 5,500 customers without power in the region of Kaunas and another 3,000 in the region of Vilnius.

Commander of Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union proposed

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis proposes to appoint Lieutenant Colonel Gintaras Koryzna as commander of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union (LRU).Koryzna is currently a lecturer at the Estonia-based Baltic Defence College and has in the past served as commander of the Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion. Karoblis confirmed Thursday, May 11, that he will nominate Koryzna as commander to the LRU congress if the parliament’s Committee on National Security and Defence gives the go-ahead.

Prosecutors ask court to extradite fraud suspect to US

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office has asked a court to extradite Evaldas Rimašauskas, a Lithuanian national suspected of defrauding US-based Internet giants Facebook and Google of 100 million US dollars, to the United States. The Vilnius Regional Court has scheduled a hearing on the extradition request for Friday. The BBC has reported that Google and Facebook have confirmed that they fell victim to an alleged 100-million-dollar scam orchestrated by Rimašauskas.

The 48-year-old suspect was detained on March 16. A Vilnius court then issued a one-month arrest warrant, which was on Apr. 13 extended for another month.

US defence secretary can’t elaborate on Patriot systems

United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis said in Vilnius on Wednesday, May 10, that the US was ready to deploy defence systems in the Baltic states to deter Russia, however, has given no comment on the possibility to bring long-range defence systems Patriot.

He emphasized that NATO capabilities in Eastern Europe were exceptionally defensive, dismissing built-up of Russia’s military power in the region as a destabilizing factor.

Crowd gathers in cemetery to mark end of WWII

Hundreds of people gathered in Vilnius’ Antakalnis Cemetery on Tuesday, May 9, to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two.

The police say that up to 1,000 people, most of them wearing the orange-and-black St. George ribbons, attended the ceremony. To the sound of military marches, people laid red carnations and wreaths at the memorial to the victims of the war.

Among those present were Russia’s ambassador Alexander Udaltsov and Belarus’ ambassador Alexander Korol, as well as members of political parties representing ethnic minorities in Lithuania.

Baltics agree on grid synchronization via Poland

The prime ministers of the three Baltic countries and Poland on Monday, May 8, reached a preliminary agreement on synchronizing the power grids of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with the continental European network via the existing interconnection between Lithuania and Poland, known as LitPol Link, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaičiūnas said, however, that a second power link remained an open issue.

Lithuania wins in British court against Alstom

France’s Alstom has paid 13 million euros in compensation to Lithuania as ordered by London’s Southwark Crown Court in a case in which the French group’s Swedish energy unit Alstom Power was accused of corruption in Lithuania.

The money was transferred in July 2016 and will be given to Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba (Lithuanian Energy Production, or LEG), which is part of the state energy group Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy).Alstom Power between 2004 and 2009 upgraded LEG, which was then named Lietuvos Elektrine (Lithuanian Power Plant), for 208 million euros, installing flue gas desulphurization equipment at the plant. Neither Lietuvos Energija nor the Finance Ministry, the company’s shareholder, would comment on the information about the funds received and the use of the money.

LFGU remains most popular

The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, LFGU, remains the country’s most popular political force, however, its ratings declined by a third since the beginning of the year, while the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition conservatives climbed on the popularity ladder, shows a poll published on Monday, May 8.Should the general elections be held on the nearest Sunday, LFGU would be supported by 19.9 percent of those polled, down by 2.5 percentage points over the past month. The decline is within the margin error, however, the party’s popularity dropped by a third since early 2017, from 30.7 percent to 19.9 percent.

Latvian agency Travel RSP banned from operations in Lithuania

Latvia’s travel agency Travel RSP has no right to operate in Lithuania, as it is not listed as a provider of travel services, the Lithuanian State Tourism Department concluded. According to the statement, Travel RSP trips are offered by Lithuania’s travel agency Kodel Gi Ne LT, which is aware that the Latvian firm is not certified to operate in Lithuania.

 Lithuania removes roadblocks to OECD membership

Lithuania has made significant progress over the past two years in its efforts to become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and if it keeps the pace, it could join the club of economically strong, transparent and innovative nations in 2018, OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz says. According to him, Lithuania has done a good job improving its legal system and the transparency standards and management of state-owned enterprises, but it still has to carry through its forestry and road maintenance enterprise reforms to complete the OECD accession process.

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Fashion in business: how to be heard in the modern-day world?

It would seem that nowadays strict fashion trends have «died». This is because people for ways to look beautiful and comfortable. One of the minds behind TRÉS fashion line, Enija Mugurevica shares advice how to start a business in the fashion industry from scratch and be heard and noticed in the modern-day world.

FCMC fines Norvik Banka for EUR 1.3 million and Rietumu Banka for EUR 1.56 million

Finance and Capital Market Commission in cooperation with Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterproliferation Center found out in a target inspection that Latvian banks – Norvik Banka and Rietumu Banka – have not followed requirements of regulations for the prevention of money laundering and terrorism funding.

Saeima approves controversial amendments to Credit Institutions Law

On Friday, 21 July, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the Credit Institutions Law, which were previously returned to the parliament for a repeated viewing by President Raimonds Vejonis, completely unchanged.

Bank of Latvia: tax reform is a disappointment; it will not improve competitiveness

The tax reform submitted to the Saeima for approval is one big disappointment that will not improve competitiveness, said head of the Monetary Policy Office of the Bank of Latvia Uldis Rutkaste in an interview to LNT 900 seconds.

Betsafe predicts: will Duklavs remain Latvia’s Agriculture Minister?

Although Unity has asked the Union of Greens and Farmers to replace Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs with someone else after the scandalous oligarch talks in Ridzene hotel, Duklavs will likely keep his post, according to Betsafe bookmakers. There is a 33% probability of Duklavs losing his post.

Latvian alcohol industry has an offer to increase excise tax rate

Experience shows – rapid increase of excise tax results in rapid increase of prices and rapid decline of revenue for the state treasury. Based on careful calculations, Latvian Alcohol Industry Association asks the government to stick with the current excise tax increase plan.

Air temperature to reach +24° C… +25° C in Latvia on weekend

Weather is expected to be largely dry this weekend in Latvia. Next week, however, is expected to be rainy, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Saeima deputies sign agreement on Oligarch talks committee’s formation

So far only parliament members have signed the agreement on the formation of a Saeima committee for the investigation of Oligarch talks. Neither of them represents Unity – Karlis Serzants from Union of Greens and Farmers and Einars Cilinskis from VL-TB/LNNK.

Seaima Praesidium approves parliamentary budget for 2018

On 20 July, Saeima Praesidium approved the parliament’s budget request for 2018. It is planned to be EUR 22.04 million, setting funding to maintain current functions on the level of 2017, BNN was informed by Saeima press-service.

Beer brewers: fooling around with tax reforms could destroy Latvia’s beer industry

By increasing excise tax for beer, the goal of reducing alcohol consumption will not be achieved. This is because consumption of other alcoholic beverages will increase as a result, notes CEO of Latvian Breweries Union Peteris Linins, commenting on the government’s plans to raise excise tax for beer.

4,558 marriages registered in Latvia in first six months of 2017

Over the past three years, Latvian birth number almost has not changed and constitutes 22 thousand annually. 10,175 children were born in the first half of 2017, which means 990 newborn fewer than in the same period a year ago.

Broadcasting organizations ask NEPLP to stop meddling with public media contents

The board of Latvian Association of Broadcasting Organizations urges the government and National Electronic Mass Media Council to continue realizing reforms in public media.

Kucinskis also met with Slesers in the infamous meeting room of Ridzene hotel

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis admits having met with Ainars Slesers in the now infamous meeting room in Ridzene hotel a couple of times, specifically when the People’s Party made the decision to join Par labu Latviju.

Pumpurs hands 99% of Užavas alus capital shares to his son

Ildis Pumpurs, up until now the only owner and board member of Ventspils Užavas alus brewery, has handed 99% of the company’s capital shares to his son Oskars Pumpurs.

Repeated elections in Kekava – activity twice as high so far

Repeated election has commenced in Kekava’s 785 election site. 274 voters or 7% of local voting population took part in elections in the first day, according to data from the election site.

Estonia plans accepting from Turkey 160 Syrian refugees

Estonian police are looking into the documents on 160 refugees from Syria that are to be moved to Estonia in line with an agreement reached between the EU and Turkey.

Experts: potato harvest in Latvia may come later than usual this year

Potato harvest in Latvia may come one week later than usual. Still, the harvest is expected to be on the level of last year, BNN was told by Potato Growers and Processors Union.

News feed to be added to Google's website and mobile app

Internet search giant Google has said it would add a continuous feed of news and other content to its homepage and mobile app, which would be displayed before a user makes a search query.

NATO and Chinese ships perform joint manoeuvrer before entering Baltic Sea

This week, Standing NATO Maritime Group One welcomed in international a group of Chinese Navy ships that entered the Baltic Sea through the Strait of Denmark from the North Sea. Ships of both groups performed a mutually coordinated manoeuvrer for the ships to ensure safe entry of ships into the Baltic Sea, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

Russia distances itself from proclamation of «Malorossiya» in eastern Ukraine

The Kremlin has noted that the proclamation of a county entitled «Malorossiya», or «Little Russia» in the pro-Kremlin-separatist-held eastern parts of Ukraine is a personal initiative of the rebel leader.

Expert: oil prices will likely remain zigzag-like

Aside from one week, oil reserves have been continuously declining since April. This trend will likely continue. Oil refining activities were not too high. This reduced demand for oil. In Q3, oil producers will increase production output and compound stores, comments macroeconomics expert Dainis Gaspuitis.

Construction output in Q1 in Latvia – tenth largest in EU

In Latvia, construction production volume in Q1 2017, when compared with the same period of last year, grew 8.4%. This puts Latvia on the tenth place among EU member states, according to the latest data from Eurostat.

Pabriks invites Estonia to focus on protecting Europe’s borders during presidency

MEP from Latvia Artis Pabriks invites Estonia as the presiding country in the European Council to focus on the protection of Europe’s borders and help motivate other member states to follow through with their objectives.

Contract signed for 60 million euros loan for Rīgas satiksme

Nordic Investment Bank and Riga municipality’s company Rīgas satiksme have signed a contract for the allocation of a loan worth 60 million euros. Funding is intended to be used to purchase hydrogen-powered buses and low-floor trams, as well as investments into tram infrastructure.

Household expenditure on consumption exceeds pre-crisis levels in Latvia

In 2016, household consumption expenditure comprised on average EUR 333 per household member monthly – EUR 17 or 5.4 % more than in 2015.

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