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Wednesday 18.07.2018 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze
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BNN summary of the week: attack on Syria and oil longevity in Latvia

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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; Fight; Decline; Truth and Future.

Change: Putin allows all Latvian and Estonian non-citizens to travel to Russia without a visa

On Wednesday, 5 April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that provides the right for Latvian and Estonian non-citizens born after 6 February 1992, when Soviet citizenship ceased to exist, to travel to the country without a visa.

The decree, which provides amendments to the 17 June 2008 decree, comes into force at the moment of signing, according to the document available on the Russian federal legislative acts portal.

The 2008 decree stated that people without certain nationality to travel to Russia without a visa if those people previously had USSR citizenship. Visa-free regime was secured by this decree for people born before 6 February 1992.

The new decree cancels this restriction, allowing all Latvian and Estonian non-citizens to travel to Russia with only their non-citizen passport issued in Latvia or foreigner passport issued in Estonia.

Amendments were prepared by Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry following an order from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Full article here: https://bnn-news.com/putin-allows-all-latvian-and-estonian-non-citizens-to-travel-to-russia-without-a-visa-163463

Fight: U.S. attacks Assad regime for first time, reacting to suspected chemical attack

U.S. army has for the first time during the Syrian Civil War attacked Syrian government forces, insisting it is a response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on an town controlled by Syrian rebels, where dozens of civilians have been killed.

BBC cited the U.S. defence ministry as stating that 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at 04:40 Syrian time from destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean targeting aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province, Syria.

Full article here: https://bnn-news.com/u-s-attacks-assad-regime-for-first-time-reacting-to-suspected-chemical-attack-163509

Decline: Pulks: Riga City Council gives away 17 million euros without tendering procedure

Over the course of the past five years, more than EUR 17 million was spend with no tendering procedure on Riga City Council’s single information system’s maintenance. Politician Olafs Pulks from Unity suspects certain municipal officials of having selfish interests.

Pulks has sent a letter to prosecutor general Eriks Kalnmeiers, Competition Council Chairman Skaidrite Abrama and State Auditor Elita Krumina, asking them to assess the actions of Riga City Council officials in picking a service provider without first performing a tendering procedure. Over the course of the past five years, more than EUR 17 million has been spent on maintenance of Riga City Council’s Single Information System.

Full article here: https://bnn-news.com/pulks-riga-city-council-gives-away-17-million-euros-without-tendering-procedure-163319

Truth: Investigators determine the identity of St Petersburg metro bomber

Russian investigators have determined the identity of the man who detonated an explosive in St Petersburg metro. In the interest of the investigation, the name of this man is not revealed, as reported by Investigation Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko on Tuesday, 4 April.

«Investigation conducted by the Investigation Committee, Interior Affairs Ministry and Federal Security Service has helped determine that the explosive in the metro may have had been detonated by a man whose remains were found in the third cart of the metro train. His identity has been determined as well, but in the interest of the investigation, information about him cannot be revealed at this time,» Petrenko said.

Full article here: https://bnn-news.com/investigators-determine-the-identity-of-st-petersburg-metro-bomber-163368

Future: Kirkup: if Transneft ceases oil exports through Baltics, LatRosTrans will not be sustainable

If LatRosTrans co-owner Transneft decides to cease oil product exports through Baltic ports, LatRosTrans will no longer be sustainable, says the company’s council chairman Robert Kirkup.

He says LatRosTrans had experienced a major transport volume decline in 2016 – from 4.7 million tonnes of oil products in 2015 to only 3.6 million tonnes last year. The company worked with a degree of profits, which was largely thanks to reduced costs.

Full article here: https://bnn-news.com/kirkup-if-transneft-ceases-oil-exports-through-baltics-latrostrans-will-not-be-sustainable-163527

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House arrest of Russian theatre director Serebrennikov extended

A court in Russia prolonged the house arrest of Kirill Serebrennikov, a leading Russian theatre and cinema director, until August 22 as he waits for a criminal trial charged with of embezzlement of state funds.

NCP picks Jurašs, Strīķe, Bordāns, Feldmanis and Šuplinska as its headliners

Latvia’s New Conservative Party has picked Juris Jurašs, Juta Strīķe, Jānis Bordāns, Krišjānis Feldmanis and Ilga Šuplinska as its headliner candidates for Saeima elections.

Bank: residents spend an average of 50 to 100 euros on health every quarter

84% of residents aged 18 to 74 have used medical services in the past three months. Only 5% of all costs were covered by health insurance, according to a survey by Norvik Banka.

Countries sign third Rail Baltica co-financing agreement

Connecting Europe Facility co-financing agreement for the construction of Rail Baltica railway infrastructure was signed by participating member states on 13 July. The value of the agreement is EUR 130 million. CEF’s contribution will reach EUR 110 million, which is equal to 85% of all applicable costs, as confirmed by RB Rail communication consultant Ligita Brodiņa.

Saeima plans to increase compensations for child victims

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported for the third reading amendments that provide for increasing state compensations to child victims.

Sweden asks for help to fight wildfires behind Arctic Circle

Sweden has called for help of European Union neighbours to put out wildfires, some raging in territories behind the arctic circle.

Latvijas Krajbanka administrator recovered EUR 1,038 million in June

The administrator of the liquidated Latvijas Krajbanka recovered EUR 1,038 million in June, which is 6.9 times more than a month prior, according to the official outlook published in Latvian Herald.

Estonians warned of heat wave, high UV radiation

Weather forecasters in Estonia have warned the population of hot weather conditions, because temperatures are forecast to reach 30-31 degrees Celsius this week.

Minister says police have leads in Bunkus murder case

Police have found new leads in the murder case of former insolvency administrator Mārtiņš Bunkus, said Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Average EU market prices for dairy products grew in May

Compared to April, dairy product prices in Latvia did not increase in May. In the EU, however, average market prices continued growing in May, according to information compiled by Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

ECHR: Russia violated human rights in Pussy Riot and Politkovskaya cases

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Russia guilty of human rights violations in its handling of two high-profile cases – its arrest and conviction of Pussy Riot protest group in 2012 and the investigation into journalist Anna Politkovskaya's murder.

Draft making eID card a compulsory document from 2023 onward remains inactive

Latvia’s government has yet to review the legislative draft that makes electronic ID card a compulsory personal identification document for all residents of Latvia older than 15.

Latvia imported 7% less cigarettes in five months of 2018 than it did a year ago

In the first five months of 2018, Latvia imported 1.828 billion cigarettes, which is 7% less than the amount imported in the same period of last year, according to data compiled by the State Revenue Service.

EU's largest free trade agreement signed with Japan

A free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan has been signed and is to apply to close to a third of the world's gross domestic product and the economic activity to 600 million people.

Will Latvians know who elects their president? Draft on open vote «on the move»

On Tuesday, 17 July, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Commission decided to submit for the first reading amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia that provide for holding election of the country’s president in the Saeima through an open vote, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Schengen information system to help prevent tractor theft cases in Latvia

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has supported amendments to the Operation of the Schengen Information System developed by the Interior Affairs Ministry. The aim of those amendments is providing access to the system to ensure public order and security in member states, the ministry explains.

Ministry declares no more free plastic bags for shoppers

From 1 January 2019 onward supermarkets will no longer provide plastic bags to customers free of charge. This will not apply to very light plastic bags, as confirmed by Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

EY auditor’s work in ABLV Bank’s liquidation will be managed by its Polish office

The work of EY work in ABLV Bank’s liquidation process will be managed by its Polish office, as confirmed by company’s representatives.

Estonia sees no geopolitical change after U.S.-Russian summit in Helsinki

Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser has commented cautiously that the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki is unlikely to bring fundamental change in the relations between the West, NATO military alliance and Russia.

airBaltic carried record large number of passengers in June

Latvia’s national airBaltic airline carried 1,876,839 passengers to destinations in Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS countries and the Middle East in the first six months of 2018. This is 20% more when compared to the same period of last year, as BNN was told by the company.

Police to investigate possible MPC fraud at Tukums DH CHP plant

One of the largest CHP plants in Kurzeme – SIA Tukums DH – may have been squandering produced heating energy for a long time, which is a serious breach of mandatory procurement component governing rules, TV3 news reports.

Estonian holidaymakers die in Ukraine, media report

Three Estonian holidaymakers in Ukraine, have been found dead in a hotel in the Black Sea resort town of Odessa last weekend, Estonian media report without identifying the three young men.

Languages «a must-have». An interview with ex-president about political market methods and communist approach

There are two ways a political market is realized during closed presidential elections: one involves approval of candidates in exchange for votes, and the other – for money. If it’s the latter, it is best for no one to know how elections are performed. Harmony, which now stays quiet about open elections, has always been against this proposal, because it does not allow for creating a political market – sale of votes in exchange for influence, which has been done before...

Migration from Baltics, Eastern Europe to UK lowest in years

Migration to the UK from the Baltics and other member states of the European Union has been the lowest it has been for nearly four years in 2017, Britain's official statistics show.

Putin in Helsinki denies U.S. election meddling, Trump doesn't object

At the Russia-U.S. summit Helsinki, a key development has been differences in the attitude by U.S. federal officials to Russian interference in the American election process. Days after Washington charged 12 Russians with hacking the computer systems of U.S. officials, U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted the denial of Russian responsibility expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.