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Saturday 24.03.2018 | Name days: Kazimirs, Izidors

Week in Lithuania. Syrian refugees arrive, Iraqis leave for Sweden

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Another 11 refugees – originally from Syria but lately living in a refugee camp in Greece – have arrived in Lithuania under the European Union‘s  refugee resettlement programme.

A total of 73 refugees have been relocated to Lithuania under the EU program. Lithuania has committed itself to receiving 1,105 refugees over two years, mainly from Syria and Iraq. The refugees are distributed among EU member-states to ease the burden for countries in southern Europe.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi refugee family that was resettled to Lithuania last December has left for Sweden. The Iraqi family came to Lithuania from Greece last December. Lietuvos Ryto TV reports that the family father, who was working at a furniture manufacturing plant, asked for a leave until July 11, but did not return to his job. The family of two adults and two children were living in a summer house owned by Lithuanian liberal MEP Petras Auštrevičius who had volunteered to give them temporary accommodation near Vilnius.

Lithuania owes some work for OECD

Lithuania still needs to tackle bribery-related legal issues in order to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), website reported. Lithuania must expand the criminal liability of legal persons, ensure that the proceeds of bribery of a public official are subject to confiscation without exceptions and ensure that legal person cannot avoid responsibility by using intermediaries in other countries, Audris Kutrevičius of the Public Relations Office at the Ministry of Justice told the website.

Lithuania set to boost electric vehicle infrastructure

Lithuania plans a six-time increase in electric car infrastructure next year, pumping 3 million euro for developing infrastructure for electric cars next year. In 2017, Lithuania plans to build over 150 new charging stations in cities and over 30 near highways. The investment, much of which will come from the European Union funds, is part of the Ministry of Communication‘s plan to cut environmental pollution by cars.

Lithuanian PM to skip Rio Olympics

Citing exorbitant air fares to Rio De Janeiro, the host of 2016 Olympic Games, Lithuania‘s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius will not attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.«Even when we started planning the visit to Brazil six months ago and tried to find the cheapest tickets in accordance to the Public Procurement Law, the fares seemed rather inflated. After learning the price for the whole delegation, the prime minister said he could not approve of the spending and refused to go to Rio de Janeiro,» Butkevičius‘ spokeswoman Evelina Butkutė-Lazdauskienė said. In her words, offers were received from three agencies, and the lowest airline fare for four members of the delegation was 44,000 euro. Without public procurement, prices on ticket or airline websites are several times lower, said the spokeswoman. President Dalia Grybauskaitė left for Brazil earlier on Thursday, August 4, to support the country‘s athletes in the Olympic Games.

Hazardous bacteria found

Analysis of frozen food seized during a search in Judex, a Kaunas-based Lithuanian frozen food production company, has revealed hazardous bacteria, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Thursday, August 4.«After a preliminary analysis, experts established that some of the samples of the seized production contain bacteria that are a health hazard. The State Food and Veterinary Service has been notified of the results. It was addressed with a request to conduct a thorough check of the circumstances,» reads the press release. The searches were conducted as part of an influence peddling investigation. Prosecutors suspect that state regulators gave Judex a pass on food safety violations. Suspicions of abuse of power and document forgery have been brought against Jonas Milius, head of the State Food and Veterinary Service. Investigators have also questioned MP Petras Gražulis whose family is linked to Judex.Prosecutors say that it would be inappropriate to decide on whether to dismiss Jonas Milius, Lithuania‘s chief veterinary officer who is suspected of abuse of office and document forgery, while he is on vacation.

Dairy plans to delist from Vilnius bourse

Žemaitijos Pienas, a leading Lithuanian dairy group, is planning to delist its shares from the Nasdaq Vilnius stock exchange and go private.

Žemaitijos Pienas’ shareholders will be asked vote on the delisting proposal on Aug. 26, the company said.

In order to delist, three-fourths of votes at the shareholder meeting are sufficient. A mandatory tender offer to buy all outstanding shares should then be launched.

EC to look into Lithuania‘s complaints over Belarusian NPP

The European Commission is looking into the address filed by three Lithuanian ministers about the Belarusian nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets, some 50 km from Vilnius.
«I can confirm that this letter has been received. We are now looking into it and as all letters sent to the Commission, also this letter will be duly replied to,» EC‘s Spokeswoman for Climate Action and Energy Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said.

She also said that the EC wanted Belarus to conduct stress tests of the nuclear utility.

Customs nab 400,000 euros worth of drugs

Lithuanian customs officers found almost 400,000 euros worth of psychotropic tablets hidden in a car they stopped at the border with Latvia last weekend, the Customs Criminal Service said on Thursday, August 4. Two young men, identified only by their initials G. K. and M. B., told the officers that they were heading for Finland when their Seat Alhambra was stopped for a check near the village of Germaniškis at around 5 AM on Saturday. During the check, the officers discovered a large number of packs of Subutex, a prescription medication with psychotropic properties, tucked between two small lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries in the car’s battery box. The batteries were installed in the emptied automotive battery box to provide power to the car, leaving enough room for hiding the drugs. A tablet of Subutex contains 8 milligrams of buprenorphine and is said to cost up to 150 euro per tablet on the black market in Finland.

Oldest building in Kaunas to be restored

What is believed to be one of the oldest stone buildings in Kaunas will undergo major restoration. After the conservation-restoration works are complete, the building that faces the City Hall will regain some of its sixteenth-century façade. The structure is believed to be one of the oldest surviving stone buildings in Kaunas. Photo LRT Architect Asta Prikockienė, who analysed the building on 2 Muitinės Street in central Kaunas, says that the structure dates back to the late 15th century and was reconstructed three times during the 16th century. The building is believed to have housed the first city hall and used as the residence of Lithuania’s grand dukes and Polish kings when they visited Kaunas.

Polish party leader not to run for Seimas

MEP Valdemar Tomaševski, the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and the Union of Christian Families, has decided not to run for parliament in elections this October. «As far as I know, he’s is not going (to run as candidate),» the party‘s member MP Leonardas Talmontas said. In his words, the decision was made during a meeting of the party‘s top leaders earlier this week. The politician refused to comment on the causes behind the decision, adding that they should be given by Tomaševski himself.

NGOs slam new sexual education programme

Several dozen people, rallied by non-governmental organizations, held a protest action outside the Ministry of Education and Science. They are critical of the new sexual education programme that the ministry is to approve, saying it is too conservative and fails to meet the needs of school students. The protesters called for a more liberal approach to sexual education, saying that the expert group which drafted the programme failed to take into account recommendations of the World Health Organization. Moreover, under the programme, students would not be properly informed about LGBT people or contraception, critics say. The programme relies too heavily on values preached by the Catholic Church, according to them.

Lithuania riled by coin

A new five-ruble coin issued by the central bank of Russia has irritated Lithuania by including its capital Vilnius among the European cities liberated from the Nazis by the Red Army. The series of coins is dedicated to «Cities and Capitals Liberated by Soviet Troops from German Nazi Invaders» and features Kiev, Minsk, Chisinau, Bucharest, Tallinn, Riga, Belgrade, Warsaw, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Berlin and Prague. The coin dedicated to Vilnius portrays a statue of Soviet soldiers that used to stand on the Green Bridge in the Lithuanian capital until last summer, when it was removed. An inscription frames the city‘s name between two five-pointed stars with a date, July 13, 1944, when the Red Army entered Vilnius. Lithuanians maintain that the country was not liberated by the Soviets, but rather occupied.

Lithuanian conscripts feel cheated

When Lithuania reintroduced military conscription last year, politicians were throwing around promises of various benefits to sweeten the deal for the country‘s youngsters who were suddenly facing nine months of military service. Some of them have found that these promises should have been taken with a grain of salt. One of the promises was that the state might cover up to 50 per cent of college tuition for students who had served in the army. This deal seemed particularly attractive to one young man who feels has been cheated.

Fire incident reported at closes Ingalina NPP

Rising smoke was noticed above Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, a facility in the process of decommissioning in eastern Lithuania, on Monday, August 1, evening. The incident was immediately reported to Visaginas fire services and all necessary measures to ensure safety have been taken, the plant said in a statement. Fire-fighters arrived at the site in about 15 minutes and found small wooden items burning in room 719. The incident did not interrupt operations at Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, according to the statement.

Foreign minister sceptical about Russian proposal

Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says that the agreement to switch on transponders in warplanes above the Baltic Sea will not solve safety issues, if Russian fighter-jets continue performing their dangerous manoeuvres. Linkevičius spoke in comment of the statement issued by Russia‘s Defence Ministry about Moscow’s readiness for consultations with Lithuania and other countries in the Baltic Sea region about keeping automatic transponders on during military aviation flights above the Baltic Sea. Lithuania and NATO Allies will consider the Russian proposal, but it should be judged by specific actions, not words, just like other promises and invitations from Russia, said the minister.

Ref: 020/

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MEP: operations of certain banks in Latvia ruin the country’s reputation

Money laundering is a problem in Latvia, because the activities performed by certain banks ruin the country’s reputation, said member of the European Parliament Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to Rietumu Radio.

Harmony believes education only in Latvian language is discrimination

Members of Harmony’s Saeima faction have turned to President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis with a request to halt the parliament’s newly approved amendments to the General Education Law and Education Law regarding education only in Latvian language.

Opinion: UFG and For Latvia and Ventspils were in favour of Vejonis congratulating Putin

Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis sent his congratulation to the newly-elected President of Russia Vladimir Putin in order to secure political capital for himself during next year’s presidential elections, says Assoc. Prof. Ojārs Skudra from Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Latvia.

Commissioner: Latvia should provide a clear response to situation in its financial sector

The scandal in Latvia’s financial sector has been reported far and wide in the European Union. This is why it is highly important for Latvia to provide a clear reaction to all this, said Vice-President of the European Commission for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Market Union Valdis Dombrovskis.

Don't joke about bombs at Tallinn Airport, they take it seriously

Estonia's largest airport in Tallinn has from early 2017 received 14 threats of the presence of explosives in the air-travel hub, most of which have been discovered to be just jokes said at the wrong place.

Minister: learning in a single education system using state language is only obvious

Education using state language is our way of ensuring sustainable development of our nation, says Latvia’s Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis.

Estonian banks close foreigner accounts in wake of ABLV closure

In the wake of the closure of ABLV Bank in Latvia and alleged money laundering via the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, lenders in Estonia are closing the accounts of foreigners, but this threatens the country's successful e-Residency programme aimed at attracting foreign investors.

Latvian Saeima conceptually supports limiting the Bank of Latvia governor’s authority

The Saeima has supported amendments to the Law on the Bank of Latvia in the first reading. Amendments provide that the term of the bank’s governor, his deputy and council members will be five years, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Baltic shareholders agree to keep Baiba Rubesa in charge of RB Rail

RB Rail CEO and board chairperson Baiba Rubesa will keep her post. This was decided by shareholders during the 22 March meeting. «The supervisory council had previously mentioned the CEO’s contribution to the company’s development. Still, we intend to find solutions and continue realizing Rail Baltica project,» said RB Rail Supervisory Council chairperson Riia Sillave.

Syrian rebel groups in eastern Ghouta announce ceasefire

In the besieged eastern Ghouta territory in Syria, which has been under heavy air strikes and artillery fire for about a month, several opposition rebel groups have agreed to ceasefire.

EU member states on Skripal attack: «Highly likely» Russia was responsible

The European Union has stated it would recall its ambassador to Moscow for consultations after heads of member states and their governments agreed it was very likely that Russia was responsible for the attack with a chemical weapon on a Russian-British double agent.

Weather to remain cold in Latvia until Easter; more snowfall expected

Weather in Latvia is expected to become cold again after a brief period of warmth. Air temperature will drop again at the beginning and the middle of next week; some areas may experience frost again, as reported by Latvian State, Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Farmers in Latvia dissatisfied with resolution of electricity-related problems

Two months have passed since farmers in Latvia had received unjustifiably large electricity bills. Countless meetings and discussions have taken place in those two months. Unfortunately, no decisive measures have been undertaken to resolve the problem. Farmers are confused with decision-makers’ incisiveness in a matter important to the national economy, as noted by the Farmers’ Saeima.

Life after 25 May: is this the end for free publication of photo galleries from events?

Many of us like to check out photos from concerts, conferences or sport events on gallery portals and social networks to have a look at guests of those events. However, after 25 May, when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, the situation will no longer be the same.

Saeima to establish legal framework for Baltic cooperation in disaster prevention

On Thursday, 22 March, Latvian Saeima supported a legislative draft, ratification of which will help create legal framework with other Baltic States in prevention of disasters, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Number of complaints with postal services on a rise in Latvia

Public Utilities Commission has compiled information about complaints submitted by residents in regards to postal services in 2017. The number of complaints has increased alongside opposing views about package terminals – the regulator has received 37 complaints in total.

Output of livestock products in Latvia increased in 2017

Compared to 2016, output of meat grew by 4.6 % and output of milk by 1.4 % in 2017. In 2017, in Latvia 91.2 thousand tonnes of meat were produced, which is 4.0 thousand tonnes or 4.6 % more than in 2016. The most significant increase was observed in the output of poultry (of 11.3 %) and pork (4.7 %).

Turkey's offensive in Syria condemned by NATO ally Germany

Angela Merkel, the head of the German federal government has stated that Turkey’s military offensive in the northern Syrian town of Afrin was unacceptable and she blamed Russia for simply watching, while attacks by Syrian government forces on besieged eastern Ghouta continue.

Finance minister still believes tax reform in Latvia has brought results

«The tax reform has given us the results we had expected, especially in regards to combating envelope wages,» said Latvia’s Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Planned hospital reorganisation in Lithuanian regions irks both mayors and patients

If the plan of the Lithuanian Ministry of Health to overhaul treatment services in the provinces does not hit a snag, the rural hospitals will be soon providing only essential care and nursing, the focus will be on out-patient care and treatment will be available only in larger county hospitals.

Ventspils beach high in popularity this week; Lembergs gets spotlight time as well

Ventspils ended up in the spotlight in an unusual way this week: seals washed up on the beach there. Animal Freedom emphasizes that human contact with baby seals would hurt them. Residents are asked to maintain at least 50 m distance from them. However, the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs decided to take photos with baby seals and publish them on his Facebook profile.

Ombudsman: problems in nursing homes and social care centres are associated with lack of funding

Problems in nursing homes and social care centres are largely associated with lack of funding, because it is not possible to perform high-quality work using currently available resources. This is the responsibility of ministries and the government, as ombudsman Juris Jansons mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Estonian music authors receive record royalties for 2017

The organisation, which is tasked by collecting royalties for local and foreign music in Estonia, the Estonian Authors' Society, has received six million euros in royalties in 2017, which is its record level.

Facebook sorry for permitting exploitation of 50 million user data in politics

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the social network failing to ensure enough privacy to its users that allowed for data on about 50 million of its users to abused by a political consultancy firm.

Zhdanok’s replacement to promote non-citizen matter in European Parliament

Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, who has taken Tatyana Zhdanok’s place in the European Parliament, plans to promote the matter of non-citizens in the institution.

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