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Monday 22.07.2019 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina

BNN summary of the week: trading posts in Riga; heat in Lithuania; trains for Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThis week, Riga’s residents asked if Riga City Council has become a branch office of Riga Central Market, because the trading there hotter than at an annual fair. Oļegs Burovs almost broke his tongue trying to sell his candidacy for the mayoral post using posts in the Freeport and city council committees.

While Riga City Council was busy selling posts, Latvenergo was experiencing internal changes of its own. The company’s temporary council decided to step down due to complaints about ‘political pressure’. Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš admits that Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s decisions in regards to Latvenergo were political. Nevertheless, the prime minister has no plans to request the minister’s dismissal.

In spite of scandals, however, hope appeared this week that Latvia might actually get new trains. Latvia’s Procurement Monitoring Bureau permitted railway company Pasažieru vilciens to sign a contract with Czech company Škoda.

BNN offers you a summary of the most topical developments of the week, including topics such as: Market; Forgiveness; Fourth Time; Heat; Emergency; Noose tightens.


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUMayoral candidate offers «treats» but opposition remains lukewarm towards him

To promote cooperation among Riga City Council deputies, mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs offered opposition members at a mutual meeting to participate in governance of committees, but he failed to gather support from them.

On Tuesday, 2 July, Burovs met with representatives of Unity, New Conservative Party, National Alliance ‘All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ and For Latvia’s Development.

According to Vilnis Ķirsis, Burovs offered ‘a treat’ in the form of posts at the freeport and elsewhere.

«We were confused with that offer and we declined it, because it offered no change, which Riga is in dire need of,» said the deputy, adding that capture of power with Harmony or any of its ex-members is not possible.

National Alliance’s deputy faction leader Dainis Locis admits that Burovs had offered deputies to take deputy chairman post in some committee and form a faction council. «A faction council is an idea worth considering, but it needs to be clearly defined and discussed. Additionally, it should be covered by amendments in the city council’s internal order. The opposition was promised deputy chairmen’s posts,» said Locis, adding that Burovs failed to secure support from factions. This means he will have to look for votes in the newly-formed faction.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUPasažieru vilciens permitted to sign train supply contract with Škoda

Latvia’s Procurement Monitoring Bureau (PMB) has declined Spanish company Patentes Talgo S.L. (Talgo) complaint regarding the train procurement organized by railway passenger transport company Pasažieru vilciens’ (PV) and has permitted the company to sign a contract with Czech company Škoda Vagonka (Škoda), according to the decision published by PMB.

The decision details that Talgo’s complaint in regards to Pasažieru vilciens’ organized Talks Procedure’s results was unjustified, therefore there was no reason to cancel the decision in regards to procurement’s results. PMB permitted Pasažieru vilciens to sign supply contract with Škoda and decided to keep in force the decision made by the procurement committee in regards to results of the Talks Procedure.

As it is known, Pasažieru vilciens, considering PMB’s opinion and reviewed procurement participants’ offers a third time, picked Škoda as the winner at the end of May. Following this, Talgo submitted a complaint.

Four contenders competed with one another in Pasažieru vilciens’ procurement for 32 new electric trains and maintenance equipment – Škoda, Talgo, Polish subsidiary of Swiss Stadler, and Spanish Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF).

Initially, Talgo was picked the winner. Its offered price was EUR 225.303 million. However, two other contenders – Škoda and CAF – submitted a complaint to PMB.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUSevere drought causes Lithuania to declare emergency

The Lithuanian government has declared a state of emergency over drought affecting farmers after the hottest June on record.

French news agency AFP reports that the formal announcement of an emergency situation would allow the government to compensate farmers for some losses and also permit them to avoid EU financial sanctions should they fail to reach production goals. The emergency was announced on Wednesday, July 3.

«Farmers believe their harvest can be slashed by 40 percent or 50 percent, while fish stocks are also endangered,» Lithuanian Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika said to AFP.

Full article here


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

Nils Ušakovs

Ex-mayor Nils Ušakovs made a suspect in Rīgas satiksme procurement case

Ex-mayor of Riga and newly-elected member of the European Parliament Nils Ušakovs from Harmony has been made a suspect in the criminal case regarding the dubious procurements performed by public transport company Rīgas satiksme, as confirmed by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB).

Corruption watchdog notes that as a result of investigative activities in the criminal process, investigators confiscated from Ušakovs’ office in Riga City Council an item competent institutions declared a device of strategic significance.

In accordance with Law on Circulation of Goods of Strategic Significance, private persons are not allowed to purchase, store and use goods of strategic significance. Breach of Law on Circulation of Goods of Strategic Significance carries criminal liability.

KNAB refrained from providing more detailed information about the device, whereas Ušakovs mentioned on his Facebook page that the item in question was «a home-made recording device». «As far as I can tell from the description, this is about a glued album fitted with a camera and microphone,» he explained. He also added that the presence of the device in his office surprised him.

Full article here


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

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (L) and Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro (R)

Latvian prime minister declares Latvenergo council’s dismissal a political decision

The changes exacted in the council of Latvia’s energy giant by Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro were a political decision. However, the possibility of the minister’s dismissal is not on the table, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to Latvijas Radio programme Krustpunktā on Wednesday, 3 July.

The prime minister said during his interview that he saw no reasons to have Latvenergo’s council replaced. Nevertheless, the economy minister had all the rights to make such a decision.

At the same time, Kariņš said he is confident that after replacing the council no temporary Latvenergo council should have been appointed, as councils tend not to be temporary. «I can see it was more likely a political decision,» said the prime minister.

He also said he is satisfied that the temporary council in Latvenergo decided to step down. This way Latvenergo is no longer governed by a politically-approved council.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUEstonian oil shale region concerned over public income loss

With the cuts in fossil oil shale extraction in Estonia over climate policy and cheaper Russian electricity, mining municipalities in the Ida-Viru County brace for deep cuts that would affect spending, especially in education.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Thursday, July 7, that the Mayor of Alutagus municipality in Ida-Viru County has expressed concern to regional daily Põhjarannik over the estimated loss of EUR 800,000 to the industry as Enefit Kaevandused, a state owned oil shale mining and transportation company has forecast its mining volumes for Ida-Viru County and the Narva quarry.

Alutagus mayor Tauno Võhmar evaluated that the effects of cutbacks would be felt far beyond the immediate oil shale sector.

Full article here

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Week in Lithuania: CB denies Swedbank’s Syria links, PM Skvernelis to change some ministers

Last week, PM Saulius Skvernelis revealed that the Government mulls taxing property and polluting cars, Lithuanian Railways said it will keep contract with Latvia's Sigmen, Court disqualifies itself from Paleckis case.

BNN summary of the week: Cutting a pie. Minimal wage. Dangerous games

Is there a pleasant aroma of a fresh pie in the air? Judging by events of the past week, the tasty smell of the 2020 budget has already spread across government corridors even though the dough is not ever ready.

Latvia among Baltic States with first quarter’s highest budget deficit

In Q1 2019, the general government budget deficit ratio to GDP in Latvia was higher than the average across the EU, according to data published by Eurostat.

Latvia’s industrial producer price level up 0.4% in June

Compared to May, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.4 % in June 2019. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.5 %, but prices of exported products reduced by 0.7 %.

Curious career zigzags. From shipping schemes to a warm seat in Latvian Railway

Shadow of doubt over fraud worth five million euros. Career twists with Lembergs’ approval. Secret peace treaty following Uldis Augulis’ entry to Transport Ministry. Illegal state of monopoly in the industry. What hides behind Latvian Railway chief’s «spotless» reputation?

Estonian TransferWise hires Netflix’s ex-chief financial officer

Estonian-led financial transactions start-up TransferWise has announced expansion of its board of directors with the former chief financial officer of the American online television service Netflix, David Wells.

Ukraine to reform citizenship process following Russian passport move

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, has ordered changes to the process for receving Ukrainian citizenship reacting to a Moscow decree increasing the number of Ukrainians eligible for fast-track Russian passports.

SES: barrels with chemicals found in Baldone are not harmful to people or environment

The barrels found in Baldone containing different chemicals do not present any direct threats to the environment or people, as reported by State Environment Service.

U.S. shoots down Iranian aircraft amid rising tensions in Persian Gulf

With American-Iranian relations being tense, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that an American naval ship had downed an Iranian drone that threatened the ship in the Arabian Sea.

NATO StratCom does not consider FaceApp more dangerous than Facebook

The US Democratic Party is concerned about Russian-made FaceApp, which allows its users to imagine how they might look like when they are old and retired. NATO StratCom, however, does not consider the app to be more dangerous than other apps users entrust their personal data with.

Additional information to be asked for in Latvian prosecutor general’s evaluation

Saeima deputies who initiated the investigation if there are reasons the justify dismissal of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers have been asked to clarify their request by providing more detailed information in relation to conclusions mentioned in their request.

Latvian minister wants more responsibility for the state in children rights protection

The new children’s rights protection model will delegate more functions to the state, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Scandinavian tourist killers in Morocco convicted to capital punishment

In Morocco, for the murder of two Scandinavian tourists, three Islamic State group supporters have been sentenced to death.

European Parliament urges Russia to release illegally arrested Ukrainian citizens

On Thursday, 18 July, European Parliament’s members accepted a resolution in which they invite Russia to unconditionally release all illegally and arbitrarily arrested Ukrainian citizens in Russia and occupied territories in Ukraine.

New York Times: stakes are high for Latvia in the fight against money laundering

US newspaper New York Times has published an article detailing problems with Latvia’s finance system, admitting that stakes are especially high in the fight against money laundering in this Baltic country.

Seats divided – Latvian MEPs find their jobs for the next several years

European Parliament has announced to composition of its parliamentary delegations. This includes the roles of Latvian MEPs for the first two and a half years of service, as reported by EP representative Jānis Krastiņš.

Defiant Lithuanian Parliament Speaker snubs party’s decision on his ouster

The summer’s record heatwave has withdrawn, but the Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, is sizzling – the chamber’s speaker, Viktoras Pranckietis, remains defiant, snubbing the ruling Farmers and Greens (LFGU) Council’s nearly unanimous decision to oust him from the post, following the signing of the LFGU-led new coalition agreement in early July.

Latvian Saeima committee supports increasing teachers’ wages to EUR 750

On Thursday, 18 July, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee supporter proposal for division of finances to increase minimal wages of teachers to EUR 750 in 2019.

260 more marriages than last year registered in Latvia so far in 2019

In the six months of 2019, a total of 4 730 marriages were registered, and that is 260 marriages more than during the same period of the previous year.

Dentists in Latvia may be offered compensation for work in country’s regions

To improve accessibility of healthcare services outside of Riga, it is planned to expand the range of medical specialists who are eligible for financial support when choosing to work in regions, as reported by Healthcare Ministry.

Open arms for Lidl – Estonian competition watchdog predicts lower prices

Expecting the entry of the German supermarket chain Lidl on the Estonian market, the country’s Competition Authority expects healthier competition and lower prices.

Latvian president says funding is a non-issue if public media are organized

Resolving the public media crisis will make funding a non-issue, said Latvia’s President Egils Levits in an interview to public broadcaster LTV Rīta panorama programme.

Latvian minister shocked over situation with orphans in the country

Latvia’s Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča is unpleasantly surprised with institutions’ and municipalities’ opposition towards orphaned children ending up in a family-like environment, saying it’s an «inconceivable situation».

No measles’ vaccine for child? 2 500-euro fine planned in Germany

As Germany seeks to curb an increase in measles’ cases, the federal government has passed a plan of mandatory vaccinations for children and school staff and a fine of up to 2 500 euros for lacking a vaccine.

Latvia commences procurement for public transport services in next decade

A procurement process has been announced for public transport services in Latvia for 2021-2030, as confirmed by Road Transport Directorate.

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