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Monday 19.02.2018 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna
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Week in Lithuania. Vilnius airport closes for runway reconstruction

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Vilnius Airport, Lithuania’s largest international airport that was built 85 years ago, will be closed for 35 days starting from Thursday, July 13, for runway reconstruction work.

Most airlines will divert part of their flights to Kaunas Airport, some 100 kilometres away from the capital.

Seimas okays forestry sector restructuring

After the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union promised to the opposition conservatives to bring back the value-added tax (VAT) discount to heating in the fall, the parliament on Tuesday, July 11, approved the restructuring scheme of the country’s forestry sector that has triggered heated debates in the society. At the end of the spring session, the amendments to the Law on Forests were supported by 82 Lithuanian parliamentarians, 16 were against and 12 abstained. The reform was supported by the LFGU and opposition conservatives along with some of the Liberals also part of the opposition, while the ruling Social Democrats voted against or abstained, just like the opposition Order and Justice party.

Conservatives catching up in popularity with ruling Farmers

The opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats are catching up in popularity with the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), according to a survey conducted by the pollster RAIT. Nineteen percent of respondents said they would vote for the LFGU and 16 percent said they would give their votes to the conservative Homeland Union. The gap between the parties has been steadily narrowing for the past four months. The survey showed a further decline in Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ approval rating, with 43 percent of respondents rating him favourably and 22 percent unfavorably.

President meets with Mission Siberia 2017 team

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė met on Friday, July 14, with the Mission Siberia 2017 team who are leaving next week for Russia’s Siberian city of Irkutsk.

Party branches asked to give opinion

The presidium of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) has asked all 60 branches of the party to discuss future prospects for the ruling coalition with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU). All branches are expected to give their opinion by September 20, the party said. The presidium also decided to ask the party’s council to evaluate the results of the coalition agreement.

Ambassador to Russia pays tribute

Lithuania’s ambassador to Russia, Remigijus Motuzas, paid tribute to ministers of the interwar Lithuania who were shot by Soviet authorities 75 years ago during his visit to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg this week.

NATO asks Russia questions about Zapad exercise

At a meeting with Russia’s envoy on Thursday, July 13, NATO ambassadors asked him questions about the scale and scenario of the large-scale Zapad 2017 military exercise scheduled to take place next to Lithuania this September, says Lithuania’s Ambassador to the Alliance Vytautas Leškevičius.

Klaipėda municipality to found School for Sea Cadets

Municipality of the Lithuanian port city of Klaipėda intends to found a School for Sea Cadets. In the fall, the municipal council should discuss the concept of the school and a plan of founding measures. If approval of the council is secured, other actions will follow to open the school, the municipality said on Thursday, July 13. Klaipėda Mayor Vytautas Grubliauskas has expressed regret over the lack of attention from the Lithuanian administration. In his words, the municipality is willing to open the school by its own.

Prosecutors ask Government to look into how Gediminas Hill was maintained

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office is not opening, at least for now, a public interest case over damage done to Gediminas Hill in downtown Vilnius, but is asking the government to initiative a comprehensive assessment of the circumstances. The office said in a statement on Thursday, July 13, that, in its opinion, the responsible authorities have not yet exhausted their rights to defend the public interest independently in the matter.

Gay League asks president to veto amendments to law on equal opportunities

The Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) said on Wednesday, July 12, that it had asked President Dalia Grybauskaitė to veto the parliament’s decision to transpose into national law an EU directive without listing partners as family members. The amendments to the Law on Equal Opportunities, which were passed by the Seimas on Tuesday, July 11, ban discrimination against EU citizens and their family members exercising their right to free movement on grounds of nationality. Only spouses and children under the age of 21 are listed as family members.

Lithuania wants to move culture attaché to U.S. from D.C. to New York

Lithuania’s Culture Ministry wants the country’s culture attaché to reside in New York instead from the current location of Washington D.C. The ministry asked the Lithuanian government establish the position of culture attaché at the Lithuanian consulate general in New York and scrap the position in the diplomatic mission in Washington D.C.

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For Latvia’s Development: the prime minister is gone, but finance minister claims otherwise

«What we have observed in the past several days is that Latvia’s financial sector has received several heavy strikes as a result of the government’s uncoordinated and chaotic actions. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis has evidently ‘disappeared’ and offers no clear plans to resolve the crisis, whereas Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola says different things in every interview. Such behaviour will not help resolve the crisis. It could instead pull the country’s financial sector in a much deeper crisis,» says chairman of For Latvia’s Development Juris Pūce.

Bank of Latvia provided ABLV Bank with a loan of 97.5 mln euros in exchange for securities pledge

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Prime Minister: Bank of Latvia governor is not allowed to take official post

As a security measure, the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs has been applied with a prohibition to take post, said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Poland's halt to logging in ancient forest came after irreparable damage

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«A good friend» pays 100,000 euro bail for arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia

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NP: ABLV blames Latvian officials for misleading foreign institutions

Last week, the reputation of Latvia’s second largest bank – ABLV – was seriously impacted. It is believed that money laundering was this bank’s main operation, and that it failed to comply with the prohibition on cooperation with North Korea. The bank is also accused of bribery. US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rarely speaks so directly of any credit institution, says Nekā personīga programme.

Changes to third-country student residence in Estonia to add more responsibilities to university staff

The Estonian government has backed planned amendments are to the Aliens Law implementing an EU directive into Estonian law, which change how third-country nationals on enter and reside in Estonia if they are study or performing research work.

Russia criticises U.S. charges of Russian meddling in U.S. election

The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, has criticised the charges announced by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, against 13 Russian nationals and three companies for election meddling.

Government plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvian regions

The State Police plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvia’s regions, says Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis.

Syrian Kurdish fighters under attack by Turkey announce deal with Syrian government forces

The mainly Kurdish militia in the north-west of Syria have announced having reached an agreement with the Syrian government for the latter to deploy its soldiers in order to help Kurds repel the current Turkish attack.

NCP: it is highly important to replace management of Bank of Latvia and FCMC

Considering recent events, which have not only impacted the country’s finance sector but also its international reputation, the New Conservative Party (NCP) demands immediate measures to be undertaken to replace the management of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission. On top of that, it is also necessary to perform radical changes in the organization and supervision of those institutions, says NCP chairman Jānis Bordāns.

Air temperature in Latvia to gradually decline this week

On Monday, 19 February, atmospheric pressure will increase slightly in the north. With that, it is expected to snow only around Kurzeme’s south-west. Air temperature in most of Latvia will stay at -1° C… -6° C. In Kurzeme, however, air temperature will be around 0° C… +1° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania celebrating centennial of statehood

Leaders of European countries gathered in Vilnius on Friday, February 16, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of restored statehood, and festive events were taking place in many cities and towns of Lithuania.

BNN summary of the week: minister threatened with dismissal; ABLV Bank scandal

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Court; Problem; Decline; Commentary; Future; Proposal

SRS uncovered violations in 169 inspections at catering companies last year

In 2017, the State Revenue Service (SRS) performed a total of 989 inspections at 212 catering companies. This includes 182 thematic inspections for 125 taxpayers. Violations were uncovered in 169 inspections. The most common violation was manipulation with cash registers, according to information published by SRS.

Russian tourists often decide to celebrate International Women’s Day in Riga

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FCMC to investigate ABLV Bank again; no operational restrictions applied to the bank

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Study: overall sense of happiness in Latvia is record-low

60% of Latvian residents feel happy. Although this is a good index, there has been a general decline of the sense of happiness, according to a study performed by Amigo mobile network operator and SKDS to assess the level of happiness of Latvian residents.

Raid reveals some taxi drivers in Riga do not have valid driver’s license

A raid was performed by the State Revenue Service and Riga Municipal Police to check taxi service providers in the capital. Authorities uncovered a total of 81 violations in 48 cases, BNN was informed by SRS.

Estonia sea ice crash: last missing body found

Nine days after a van with six people inside drove onto the ice of the Baltic Sea in south-western Estonia, the body of the last victim has been found.

Delna invites immediate investigation of claims about ABLV Bank’s money laundering schemes

The decision by US Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to apply sanctions against ABLV Bank for involvement in money laundering schemes and bribery of officials was not a surprise. It is a sign for acute need to continue improving investigative and supervisory institutions’ ability to prevent money laundering through Latvia, as noted by Delna – Society for Openness.

Estonian income tax should be simplified, parties believe

The existing income tax scheme in Estonia should be simplified, three parties in the Estonian Riigikogu find, but there are differences in opinion as to maintaining the current state budget income. Meanwhile, the opposition Reform Party has voiced backing for an annual tax-free income of 6,000 a year to every earner.

Baltics propose increasing member states’ contributions to EU budget after Brexit

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia invite European Union member states to increase contributions to the EU budget after 2020 in order to make sure available funds do not drop after UK’s exit.

Instagram obeys Russian internet censor to block content on corruption allegations

In the atmosphere of the March Russian presidential election, social network Instagram has submitted to the demands of Russia's internet censorship body and blocked in the country content with corruption claims voiced by Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Teenager charged with U.S. school shooting has confessed

A day after a tragic school shooting in Florida, the U.S., where 17 people have been killed, the suspect 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz has confessed to police.