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Ceturtdiena 20.06.2019 | Name days: Rasa, Rasma, Maira
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BNN summary of the week: assessment of posts; alcohol wars; doing business with KGB

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULast week seats were shaken up in Riga City Council, Office of the Prosecutor General and the country transport industry.

The «Rebellious four» proposes «starting anew» in Latvia’s capital and have all deputies step down from their posts. On top of that, after putting off decision-making for a long time, the Saeima agreed to permit commencement of criminal prosecution of KPV LV Saeima faction chairman Atis Zakatistovs. Additionally, deputies of Latvia’s parliament have gathered enough signatures to commence evaluation of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers suitability for his post.

While Latvian Railway’s council continues putting off dismissal of the company’s board, Lithuanian media and authorities have begun actively assessing Lithuanian Railway’s business operations. Lithuanian public media turns attention that for years the state railway company has cooperated with a company owned by ex-KGB agent. It is worth adding that Latvian Railway has had dealings with this company for years. Contracts worth five million euros were signed in May alone.

The week also passed with ‘high grade’ topics. While Latvia and Estonia are engaged in active discussions about alcohol prices, Lithuania has decided to ban child champagne.

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Lost Rights; Restriction; High-grade strategy; Chancellery of the President; Questionable dealings; Evaluation; Estonia’s choice; Riga City Council.

LOST RIGHTS:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUSaeima committee permits KPV LV member’s criminal prosecution

On Wednesday, 5 June, Saeima’s Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee supported the proposal to permit commencement of KPV LV Saeima faction leader Atis Zakatistovs’ criminal prosecution.

Latvia’s Saeima plans to decide on this topic on 6 June. The Prosecutor General’s Office was the institution that submitted the request to commence Zakatistovs’ criminal prosecution.

Saeima’s Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee had postponed the viewing if the request from the prosecutor’s office for a long time – the topic remained idle since the end of April. This only served to create different speculations behind the scenes. In the middle of May, the committee agreed to provide deputies time to go through materials of the case.

Janīna Kursīte-Pakule, chairperson of the committee, explained that once materials of the case have been properly studied and in the context of other such cases it was decided to allow deputies go through documents. The prosecutor’s office voiced no objections or demands to have the topic addressed immediately.

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has asked the prosecutor’s office to prosecute Zakatistovs and Viesturs Tamužs for fraudulent activities. The prosecutor’s office then turned to the Saeima with a request to permit Zakatistov’s prosecution. The decision to commence criminal prosecution of Viesturs Tamužs was made later.

Full article here

RESTRICTION:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia’s State Agency of Medicines halts registration of Rigvir medication

Until all problems with Rigvir medication have been resolved, State Agency for Medicines (SAM) has decided to put on hold its registration.

SAM explains that several quality defects were found for several Rigvir medication series this year. This is why the decision was made to halt its distribution. The company that registered Rigvir – SIA Latima – still has not determined any specific, clear reason for the quality defect, SAM explains.

The agency also notes the company has not fulfilled its duty in accordance with requirements of the post-registration period to update medication’s documents. This is why SAM has halted Rigvir’s registration certificate until all problems have been resolved. The company has several tasks to perform to restore medication’s registration.

38 patients, five healthcare institutions and 16 oncologists have turned to the Health Inspectorate (HI) with a request to permit them to continue therapy using Rigvir. In response to requests, HI permitted distribution of a single type of Rigvir medication for patients already undergoing melanoma treatment.

The inspectorate notes that requirements of the Cabinet of Ministers provide an order that dictates that in the event of an emergency it is allowed to supply medication to patients who have already started using medication. At the same time HI stresses that medication will not be provided to new patients.

Full article here

HIGH-GRADE STRATEGY:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian and Estonian ministers discuss solutions for alcohol prices

After the meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Estonia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Urmas Reinsalu and his Latvian colleague Edgars Rinkēvičs discussed the topic of alcohol prices, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

The two ministers agreed that finance ministries of both countries should consult with one another on changes to excise tax regulations.

On 4 June, Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said no alcohol price war was discussed with his Latvian colleagues, ERR reports.

«Latvia and Estonia share an active and multi-sided cooperation on different levels. One of this year’s most notable events will be the centenary of the Battle of Cesis, which we plan to celebrate together. We are satisfied to see that the two countries share stable economic relations. We want to maintain this tight economic cooperation in the future. We want to strengthen and diversify inter-industrial cooperation by using innovations and new technologies,» said Rinkēvičs.

Full article here

CHANCELLERY OF THE PRESIDENT:

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

Andris Teikmanis

Latvian president appoints the head of the Chancery of the President

Latvia’s newly-elected President Egils Levits has appointed Andris Teikmanis as the head of the Chancellery of the President. Teikmanis has agreed to take this post in July, once he is finished with his duties as ambassador.

Ambassador Solveiga Silkalna has been picked as Levits’ advisor for foreign affairs. Like Teikmanis she has agreed to enter this post in July, as confirmed by the president’s public relations advisor Aiva Rozenberga.

Teikmanis currently serves as Latvia’s ambassador in USA. According to Foreign Affairs Ministry’s compiled information regarding Teikmanis biography, he was born in 1959 and hold education in law.

His career starts in Soviet years – 1983 – as investigator for Riga City Police. He later became a judge. After restoration of Latvia’s independence he was a member of the Supreme Council and on 4 May 1990 he signed the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia.

Since 1994, he has worked as a diplomat and has been Latvia’s ambassador to Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Germany and the European Council. From 2008 to 2013 he was Latvian Foreign Ministry’s state secretary.

Full article here

QUESTIONABLE DEALINGS:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULithuanian Railways signs contracts worth EUR 130 million with ex-KGB agent

Lithuanian Railways [Lietuvos geležinkeliai] has signed contracts worth EUR 130 million with ex-KGB officer Yuri Simonenkov’s owned company Sigmen, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Simonenkov’s network of contacts from his time in KGB reaches all the way to people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In spite of his connections with Russian political elite, Lithuanian law enforcement has not checked any of the contracts, LRT reports. Nevertheless, in some cases the committee responsible for investigating influence of business transactions on state security had prohibited Lithuanian Railways from signing contracts with Sigmen.

It is worth mentioning that contracts with Sigmen are nothing new for Latvian Railway either, as in May 2019 the two companies signed contracts worth nearly EUR 5 million, according to data accessible on the website of Latvian Procurement Monitoring Bureau.

Officially Sigmen shares are owned by Simonenkov’s wife. Lithuanian public media reports that the ex-KGB officer and his associates have ties with other ex-KGB officials and agents, reaching all the way to Putin’s associates and oligarchs applied with US sanctions.

Nevertheless, Sigmen has no problems participating in public tenders in Lithuania. Lithuanian Railways is also involved in Rail Baltica process and is currently busy building the 15 km-long railway line in Kaunas. Rails are supplied by Sigmen.

Full article here

EVALUATION:

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

Ēriks Kalnmeiers

Themis wills it: Latvian Saeima deputies agree to evaluate prosecutor general’s work

Latvian Saeima successfully collects 34 signatures from deputies to commence New Conservative Party’s (NCP) proposed evaluation of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers’ suitability for his post.

Now the topic will be discussed and decided on by the Saeima.

One of the precedents that allows for the evaluation of the prosecutor general’s suitability for his post is when the chairman of the Supreme Court of Justice issues an order for it following a request from one-third of Saeima deputies.

In accordance with the law, the evaluation is performed by a judge of the Supreme Court of Justice authorized by the chairman of the Supreme Court of Justice. If the evaluation yields one or several reasons covered by law to warrant the prosecutor general’s dismissal, the Saeima can decide to dismiss the prosecutor general from his post.

Deputies of the ruling coalition have already signed the request.

BNN had previously reported that NCP leader Jānis Bordāns’ Justice Ministry proposed in May to re-evaluate the work performed by Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers and his suitability for his post.

Full article here

ESTONIA’S CHOICE:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUEstonian government picks Kadri Simson for European commissioner’s post

Estonian government coalition has picked ex-Economy Minister Kadri Simson for the post of European commissioner, Estonian public media ERR reports.

Simson was picked by her colleague and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. The Centre Party also reportedly supports her as a candidate.

Simson is proposed both as current European Commissioner Andrus Ansip’s temporary replacement until October and his successor for the next five-year term.

Because Ansip was elected to the European Parliament earlier in May, he will have to choose between his job as European Commissioner and Member of the European Parliament.

As European Commissioner, Ansip was responsible for digital affairs. Simson’s possible range of responsibilities is currently unknown.

Full article here

RIGA CITY COUNCIL:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUEx-Harmony members urge parties in Riga to resign from posts and start over

The Independents Deputies Faction, which consists of four deputies previously excluded from Harmony, in Riga City Council has presented a proposal for all political parties represented in the city council to step down from their posts, including the mayor, vice-mayors and heads of committees, and «reboot» the city council.

This proposal was detailed in a letter sent to Riga’s Mayor Dainis Turlais and all factions in the city council, as confirmed by Independent Deputies Faction’s leader Valērijs Petrovs.

«Considering what has happened at Riga City Council since the last meeting and with respect of the interests of all residents, we invite all political parties elected to the city council to take political responsibility for the situation in the municipality,» the open letter mentions.

It is worth adding that in this letter the situation in Latvia’s capital city is described as a political crisis.

The faction believes that all proposals to resolve the situation so far – removing specific officials from posts, dividing spheres of interest, or organizing emergency elections in Riga – will likely deepen the crisis.

Full article here


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