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Ceturtdiena 22.03.2018 | Name days: Tamāra, Dziedra

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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Finance sector’s development council supports prohibition of shell companies

On Wednesday, 21 March, Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ managed Finance Sector’s Development Council supported initiative on prohibiting shell companies, as confirmed by the prime minister.

Level of producer prices in Latvia’s industry is up 3.4%

Compared to January, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 0.5 % in February 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.7 %, but prices of exported products went up by 0.3 %.

Minister: Latvia is far behind its neighbours in terms of digitization and e-skills

In terms of digitization and e-skills, Latvia is far behind its neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe, said Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

OECD: Latvian employees work longest hours in Baltics

In a comparison of Baltic countries per average annual hours worked, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has found earlier this year that the average Latvian worker spends 1,910 hours at work, followed by the Lithuanian employee with 1,885 hours and the average Estonian worker with 1,855 hours.

12th Saeima failed to complete half of its pre-election promises in field of justice

In 2014, Delna – society for openness and Providus think tank received support from all parties represented in the 12th Saeima in regards to an action plan to help strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Russia carries out military drills in Gulf of Finland

Russian Defence Ministry has stated that in the Baltic Sea Gulf of Finland, which has Finland, Russia and Estonia in its coastline, the Russian military has performed drills for its tactical special operations units.

Prime minister doubts Anti-Money Laundering Service head’s competence

«The work performed by the service requires drastic changes. Whether or not it can be done by its current head [Viesturs Burkāns], I am not sure,» said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in an interview to LNT, commenting on the work performed by Latvian Anti-Money Laundering Service.

Vilnius chosen for office of game developer Lockwood Publishing from UK

UK's mobile game developer Lockwood Publishing has unveiled plans to open its first overseas office in Vilnius, pointing to the industry's talent in Lithuania and the wider region.

Association: municipalities should organize their work on their own

On 6 March, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments reviewed the letter sent to Riga City Council by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, in which the institution ordered the municipality to review their internal order and lift restrictions on the length of debates and the number of questions deputies are allowed to ask.

Canada moves to increase gun control

Canada's federal federal government has proposed new gun control measures, but they could reduce support to the ruling Liberal Party in rural areas, where guns are widely owned and used.

Minister: EU should work on rules to make sure social networks cannot be manipulated

«European Union needs to react to the Facebook data scandal and develop strict regulations to make sure social networks cannot be used to manipulate people. Appropriate regulations are needed in the matter regarding political campaigns performed on social networks, which is gradually becoming a common occurrence nowadays,» says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Profits of Latvian State Roads increased by 8.6% last year

Turnover of Latvian State Roads reached EUR 14.529 million last year, which is 10.3% more when compared to 2016. The company’s profits increased by 8.6% - to EUR 59,485, according to the published interim financial report.

Slovak President casts doubt over impartiality of proposed government

In a continuation of the political crisis in Slovakia, Slovak President Andrej Kiska has not accepted a the newly proposed government deeming it possibly unable to supervise an impartial investigation of the two murders that have shaken the Eastern European nation.

France's ex-leader Sarkozy in custody over links with Libya

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been taken in custody on March 20 and was held in custody on Tuesday and interrogated amid an investigation into whether late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi added funds to his 2007 election campaign.

KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ steelworks bought out by Austrian Smart Stahl

The auction for the sale of the insolvent KVV Liepājas metalurgs rolling mill equipment concluded with the victory of Austrian Smart Stahl GmbH, as confirmed by insolvency administrator Guntars Koris.

Entomologist: at least 5% of ticks in Latvia are infected with encephalitis

There have been cases of tick activity during the winter period in Latvia this year. As air temperature increases, ticks become active and start popping up. This means residents should seriously consider vaccination to avoid getting encephalitis from tick bites, entomologists say.

Rail Baltica station’s construction at Riga airport will cost EUR 4.5 million

Creation of a separate railway station and related infrastructure at Riga International Airport as part of Rail Baltica project will cost EUR 4.5 million, says the project’s manager in Latvia and board member of European Railway Lines company Andris Linužs.

Norwegian minister steps down to keep minority government in power

In a move to avoid the collapse of the Norwegian minority government, its Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug resigned amid a political storm she had caused by blaming an opposition party of not being harsh enough toward terrorism suspects.

Political party calls for immediate action to resolve «over-salted Riga» problem

Member of For Latvia’s Development political party’s Riga City Council faction Ansis Ansbergs urges the administration to find a quick solution to the excessive use of salt during the winter season because it has a negative impact on both human and animal health, as well as the state of buildings, cars and plant life in the capital.

MEP: fair competition should be secured for all European farmers

Sixteen members of the European Parliament from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland submitted a joint proposal on Monday, 19 March, for a resolution regarding the future of the Common Agricultural Policy with a request to equalize the level of direct payments across all of Europe starting from 2021.

Estonia prison sentence upheld to Syrian man for causing burns to wife

In the Estonian criminal case, where a Syrian man has been convicted to 10 years in prison over causing corporal damage to his wife by setting her on fire, Estonian Supreme Court has rejected his appeal.

Olainfarm’s sales volume increased by 16% over the course of the year

Provisional consolidated data from Olainfarm for February 2018 shows that product sales volumes have reached EUR 10.69 million, which is 33% more when compared with the same period of 2017.

Minister: it is not impossible for banks to reduce number of risky clients to 5%

It is not impossible for Latvian banks to reduce the number of risky clients to 5%, says Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.

Syrian Afrin left by 220 000 civilians, Turkish-supported rebels loot town

After seizing the northern Syrian town of Afrin from Kurdish militia, Syrian rebels supported by Turkey have been looting properties, journalists have reported. The town has been left by estimated 220 000 civilians.

Ministry orders Riga City Council to lift restrictions on questions

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has asked Riga City Council to act and fix violations of democratic principles in the newly approved rules for deputies.

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