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Ceturtdiena 18.10.2018 | Name days: Rolanda, Rolands, Ronalds, Erlends
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BNN summary of the week: 13th Saeima elections; open presidential election

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Tender; Opinion; Fight; Future; Elections.

CHANGE: Saeima supports «opening KGB bag» in the final reading

Latvian Saeima supported in the final reading the publication of KGB files on the internet. 71 Saeima deputies voted in favour of this decision.

A number of Concord deputies, as well as one representative of the Union of Greens and Farmers – Armands Krauze – abstained in the vote. UGF member Arvīds Ulme voted against the publication of KGB files. It should be added that four Concord members voted in favour of amendments.

Now President Raimonds Vējonis will have to decide on the law’s announcement.

Files of Latvian KBG office will be made publicly accessible for research at Latvia’s National Archive. Part of them will be published on the archive’s official website.

To improve the opportunity for residents to study consequences of Latvia’s occupation period, the National Archive will make it possible to access several KGB files on its website this year, as amendments require it. The Cabinet of Ministers will establish the order for residents’ access of files published on the website of Latvian National Archive.

The files planned to be published this year will include KGB officials’ phone books, registry of freelance agents, the agency’s statistical information and alphabetic database. Later on it is planned to publish other files associated with KGB activity in Latvia.

Full article here

TENDER: Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme becomes the only contender in minibus services procurement

AS Liepājas autobusu parks and AS Nordeka, which had previously submitted numerous complaints about SIA Rīgas satiksme’s organized minibus transport services procurements, have decided to no longer participate in them. With that, the only contender that has applied for the most recent one is Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme.

At the end of August, the Supreme Court satisfied the side plea submitted by Liepājas autobusu parks and Nordeka in the criminal case regarding the procurement organized by Rīgas satiksme. With this decision, the Supreme Court declared it impossible to continue the procurement procedure without amending two of its points – evaluation of contenders’ proposed ticket system and evaluation of their financial offers.

Rīgas satiksme representative Baiba Bartaševiča-Feldmane explains that the company has performed all the necessary improvements and that a new talk procedure was initiated at the beginning of September. Nevertheless, Liepājas autobusu parks decided not to participate. «Only one contender has submitted their offer in the talks procedure – Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme. Application submission concluded this week. If the contender’s office meets provided requirements, the contract for provision of minibus services in Riga will be signed with them,» says Bartaševiča-Feldmane.

Full article here

OPINION: Opinion: railway electrification project’s costs may reach those of Parex Bank or MPC

«The railway electrification project may potentially leave Latvian taxpayers with nothing. Cost-wise this project comes close to the financial strife that was caused by Parex Bank’s liquidation or even mandatory procurement component system’s potential losses. The only difference is that it is still possible to avoid the potentially ruinous outcome of the electrification project. If I, as head of the responsible state institution, were asked by state institutions advice on what should be done, I would say this – the risk is so massive that the project needs to be halted immediately. It should remain idle until a re-assessment has been performed – the latest data collected, mistakes fixed and a repeated audit performed for the study used to base all current estimates on,» said Juris Iesalnieks, Director of Latvia’s State Railway Administration, in an interview to BNN.

«Latvian Railway’s attitude towards investments is not always serious»

In regards to the railway electrification project’s implementation in Latvia, Iesalnieks says that as head of the responsible state institution he cannot put it in either positive or negative category. «All those below should have strict and careful calculations, and generally our institution is in favour of the project. But will its benefits help cover the losses? Unanswered questions and information kept secret from state institutions only serve to crate concerns and doubts about the necessity of this project and its quality.»

It should be said that the State Railway Administration supervises the state policy in railway freight industry and the national transport development programme. However, in spite of that, no one in the institution has access to the study into the electrification project. Iesalnieks adds that the only institution that has expressed an interest for opinions in this matter is the State Audit.

Full article here

FIGHT: Tax avoiders sentenced to prison after SRS criticized court rulings

At the end of September, five people were sentenced to prison for tax avoidance. This ruling comes right after the State Revenue Service criticized the court justice system for previous rulings in criminal cases dealing with financial crimes.

It is mentioned in the prosecutor office’s statement to the press that on 21 September Riga City Latgale Suburb Court announced the verdict in a criminal case in which two company officials were accused of tax avoidance and three other people were accused of supporting tax avoidance.

According to charges presented by Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and Other Sectors, one company’s tax avoidance caused damages to the state budget worth EUR 337,731, whereas similar crimes committed by another company caused damages to the state budget worth EUR 521,510.

First instance court found the accused guilty and sentenced them to prison for up to two years. All five suspects were arrested in the courtroom.

Full article here

FUTURE: European Parliament approves new rules for audiovisual media; child protection enhanced

On Tuesday, 2 October, MEPs approved improved rules for audiovisual media. These new rules ensure better child protection and limiting the amount of advertisements and make sure at least 30% of shown content was made in Europe, as BNN was informed by EP press-secretary in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

The new rules will apply not only to broadcasting organizations but also service providers who offer video-on-demand. The same applies to video-sharing platforms such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, the EP notes.

The parliament also adds that audiovisual media service providers will have to prohibit any content inciting violence, hatred and terrorism, while gratuitous violence and pornography.

Video-sharing platforms will have to act in case when users mark content as inappropriate. New rules do not provide adding filters for content upload. Nevertheless, platforms will have to secure mechanisms for users to employ in order to report inappropriate content.

New rules also introduce stricter restrictions for advertisements and product placement on children’s TV programmes and video-on-demand platforms. In talks with member states’ representatives, MEPs also came to the formation of a special data protection mechanism, which will not allow audiovisual service providers to use date on their consumers for commercial purposes, says Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Full article here

ELECTIONS: Security Police receives word of possible vote-buying in Saeima elections

Latvian Security Police has received information regarding possible illegal influencing of a person’s right to elect deputies.

Police have commenced an investigation into this matter.

Security Police also states that they have no information to confirm the fact of direct and systematic attempts by foreign powers to influence 13th Saeima elections.

Looking back at past elections, Security Police intends to observe elections in order to identify and prevent possible risk factors for elections.

Security Police reminds that intentional interference with a person’s right to vote is a criminal offence. Illegal actions include use of violence, blackmail, threats, bribery or other forms of illegal influence. The Criminal Law also provides liability for intentionally wrong vote-counting, as well as deliberate breach of voting privacy by a state official or election commission’s member.

Security Police urges Latvian residents to report cases when other people promise monetary compensation or other benefits in exchange for votes directed to a specific candidate or party. Residents are also asked to inform authorities about cases when there are suspicions regarding possible illegalities committed by members of the election commission.

Full article here


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After Crimea college shooting, authorities look for accomplice

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Number of newborns continues to decline in Latvia

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State Audit finds it difficult to follow use of funding for Latvia’s Centenary events

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EU and Britain agree to disagree, maybe for several months

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Anti-Money Laundering Service to be supervised by Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers

On Thursday, 18 October, members of the Saeima supported amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in the first reading.

Latvian Saeima conceptually approves new Law on the Handling of Weapons

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Latvia’s smallest 10th grade class has only three pupils

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Clocks to be turned one hour back on 28 October

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Political parties in Latvia reject New Conservative Party’s proposed government model

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Early voting option to be provided for all election sites during EP elections

On Wednesday, 17 October, Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee supported submission of amendments to European Parliament Election Law to the Saeima for the final reading.

Opinion: Attīstībai/Par! party would very much like to work with NCP

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Number of cars registered in Latvia increases more quickly than average in Europe

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Seven Latvian companies listed among TOP 50 Baltic businesses

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1.7% less alcoholic beverages was produced in Latvia in first eight months of 2018

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Baltic states do slightly worse in Global Competitiveness Report

In the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 released by the World Economic Forum, Lithuania and Estonia have dropped by two positions, while all Baltic states remain among the top 45 most competitive economies in the world.

Latvian corruption prevention bureau undergoes reorganization; several experienced officials retire

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Russia starts trial against director Serebrennikov after long house arrest

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Latvian Saeima wants to further enhance Anti-Money Laundering Service’s authority

On Tuesday, 16 October, members of Saeima’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee supported in the first reading amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.

Canada enforces legalisation of marijuana, expects economic benefits

Canada is legalising marijuana for recreational use on Wednesday and economists forecast that the new manufacturing sector would bring many new jobs, investment and tax income.

Additional funding of EUR 232 million to be allocated for EU projects in 2018

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EU expects something creative from London for Brexit summit to deliver

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