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Tuesday 25.09.2018 | Name days: Rauls, Rodrigo
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BNN summary of the week: birth and death rates in Latvia turn out shocking. Gambling halls to close down

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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: Fight; Truth; Business; Future.

BUSINESS: Sale of MTG’s business in Baltics to Providence concludes successfully

Wednesday, 18 October, marked the successful conclusion of the sale of Baltic assets owned by Swedish media concern Modern Times Group to Providence Equity Partners. From now on companies previously owned by MTG in Baltics will function as a single organization named All Media Baltics, as confirmed by the company’s manager Pierre Danon.

Permission for the sale to go down was received from all Baltic States’ regulators, including Latvian Competition Council.

MTG, which was present in Latvia since 1998, owned television channels TV3, TV3+, TV6, LNT, Kanāls 2 and radio station Star FM, as well as internet portals Tvpay and Skaties. In Estonia, MTG owned Viasat Eesti, television channels TV3, TV6, and TV3+, whereas in Lithuania the company owned TV3, TV3+ and Viasat Sport Baltic. Providence Equity Partners manages Bite Group mobile telecommunications company in Baltic States. Bite controls 28.5% of Latvia’s internet and cable television services provider Baltcom.

Full article here

FIGHT: LG cozies up with idea of rebuilding railway tracks to Reņģe, Latvia

Lithuania‘s Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has sent a mixed message as to what it intends to do next following an EC fine of nearly 28 million against it over the dismantling a 19-km railway stretch with the Latvian village of Rengė.

Brussels ruled in early October that Lithuania resorted to the drastic means to intentionally limit the capabilities of Latvian railways in transporting oil products from Orlen Lietuva, an oil refinery in the Lithuanian town of Mažeikiai, to Latvia. Besides, the absence of railway tracks forced the Polish refinery to transport its freight to Latvia on a much longer route.

«It is likely that we will soon start rebuilding the Rengė-stretch to settle the issue,» Mantas Bartuška, CEO of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (LG), told a news conference on Wednesday, October 18.

He did not elaborate, however. Earlier calculations suggest the price-tag of the construction can be in the range of 20 million euros.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said while on her visit to Lithuania last week that rebuilding would solve the problem of the removed tracks.

Full article here

DECLINE: Number of births and number of deaths decline in Latvia

During the first nine months of this year 15,723 babies were born in Latvia, which is 1,113 children fewer than in the corresponding period of the last year.

The number of newborn does not include children born outside Latvia to mother while temporarily abroad. The data on children born abroad will be available in April 2018, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

During the first nine months of the year, positive changes may be observed in the death number (21,363 deaths were registered) – a drop of 46 deaths, compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

Full article here

TRUTH: BATL: to avoid crisis in transit sector, government and Transport Ministry must act

Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ led Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council also supports Saeima’s National Economy Committee’s decision on the need for Transport Ministry to develop a long-term vision for the development of the country’s transit industry.

Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne is satisfied with this decision. She says it means ‘the ice has started moving’ and that the first steps towards ensuring development for the industry have been made. This opens way for new discussions, especially considering the delicate state of the industry and continuing decline of transit cargoes.

On Wednesday, 18 October, Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council decided not to view the matter regarding transit industry’s competitiveness. Instead it was decided to postpone it until Transport Ministry has prepared a strategic vision for the industry’s future development.

Antāne comments: «We are satisfied with the fact that we have been heard. The road towards this moment was not easy. The feeling is not unlike traversing Altenberg bobsleigh track, which is considered the most complex track in the world. Support from the committee and Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council for this decision means the era of the ‘transit industry is fine’ statement is over. We expect Transport Ministry to perform work professionally and prepare a vision for the industry’s future development to ensure stability. This is the first and important step towards sorting out the industry.»

Full article here

FUTURE: 42 gambling halls to be closed down in Riga in next five years

On Wednesday, 18 October, Riga City Council supported plans to close another 33 gambling halls in the city. With that, a total of 42 gambling halls will be liquidated in the next five year.

Riga City Council’s Legal Office has prepared decisions for revoking permits allowing the opening of new gambling halls within Riga’s historic centre and its protected area. Restrictions will not apply to four and five-star hotels and public construction territories.

Disagreements appeared between coalition and opposition deputies from the beginning of this matter’s review. This is because opposition representative Juris Pūce and Mārtiņš Bondars opposed the closure of gambling halls. During the decision-making process, deputies mentioned that Pūce should step down because his wife’s association Ascendum had received more nearly half a million euros worth of donations from gambling businesses.

Deputy Aleksejs Rosļikovs mentioned that Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has launched an investigation about this.

Pūce said that accusations voiced against him are nothing more than ‘populist drivel’ intended to create the impression that Harmony has finally done something good for residents. He added that the true purpose of those accusations is the desire to continue stealing from and distracting people.

Full article here

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Latvian government to expand Money Laundering Prevention Service’s capacity

On Tuesday, 25 September, Latvian government reached an agreement on the need to reorganize the supervision Cabinet of Ministers has over Money Laundering Prevention Service. At the same time, members of the government also agreed to expand the service’s capacity, Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola told journalists.

New natural gas tariffs approved in Latvia; those who use more gas will pay less

The Public Utilities Commission has approved AS Gaso’s submitted natural gas transmission system’s tariff project, which provides for the introduction of a fixed fee for connection to permitted load regardless of the consumed gas volume.

OCMA: majority of Latvian immigrants live in Britain, Ireland and Germany

The Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs has calculated the exact number of Latvian citizens living abroad. The majority of Latvians reside in Britain, followed by Ireland, Germany , and USA, according to the data compiled in July 2018.

Sweden's head of government Löfven loses no-confidence vote

The head of Swedish government, Stefan Löfven has not received the support of parliamentary majority despite his left-wing block narrowly winning the parliamentary election earlier in the month.

CC: number of business merges on a rise in Latvia

In the first eight months of 2018, Competition Council made twelve decisions regarding business merges, which is 50% more than the number of similar decisions made in the same period of last year. Consolidation of market participants takes place the most often in retail trade of household goods, BNN was informed by the council.

EU supervisor to investigate Estonian and Danish banking authorities on Danske Bank

The banking supervisory authority of the European Union has been asked to investigate the work of Denmark and Estonia’s national banking watchdogs over possible shortcomings in failing to prevent money laundering through the Estonia branch of Danske Bank.

airBaltic receives its 12th Airbus A220-300 aircraft

Latvian airBaltic airline has received its twelfth Airbus A220-300 aircraft with registration number YL-CSN. The airline plans to have a total of fourteen Airbus A220-300 aircraft by the end of 2018.

In pictures: Pope Francis arrives in Tallinn

The head of the Roman Catholic church has been welcomed in Tallinn as he begins the last leg of the papal visit to the Baltic states devoted to their centenary.

Meteorologists say first autumn storm in Latvia to take place this week

On Tuesday, 25 September, atmospheric pressure in Latvia will increase and clouds will tend to reduce in the afternoon, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Germany's largest bank required to improve fight against money laundering

The financial watchdog of Germany has called on Deutsche Bank to improve its measures against legalisation of dirty money.

Nearly 20,000 Latvians were living in Ireland in spring 2016

19,933 Latvian citizens were living in Ireland in spring 2016, according to census data from Ireland’s Central Statistical Bureau on the number of foreigners living in the country.

Russian protest leader Navalny detained right after previous detention

Alexei Navalny, a supporter of current protests in Russia against pension reform, has been released from administrative arrest, but arrested again on the same day to be kept in administrative arrest for another 20 days on charges of holding an illegal protest.

CPB: Russian special services remain highly interested about Latvia

Russian special services remain highly interested about Latvia’s internal politics. This includes 13th Saeima elections and their possible results. However, there is currently no information to suggest the election process could be influenced from the outside, admits Constitution Protection Bureau.

PHOTO: Pope Francis visits Riga Cathedral and meets seniors at St Jacob’s Cathedral

Pope Francis visited both Riga Castle and Riga Cathedral, where a service was held under his supervision. There he met with different Latvian officials. After that, the pope met with senior citizens at St Jacob’s cathedral.

Pope Francis arrives in Latvia for an official visit

Pope Francis arrived in Latvia on Monday, 24 September. He was greeted at the airport by President Raimonds Vējonis, Archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevičs and other public figures.

Week in Lithuania. President proposes amendments to restrict bailiffs' remuneration

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is putting forward amendments aimed at restricting bailiffs' financial remuneration to up to 15 per cent of the amount recovered.

BNN summary of the week: pre-election heat, rule of law in Latvia, Baltics prepare for Pope’s visit

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Elections; Change; Stagnation; Fight; Visit; Investigation.

Court reschedules viewing of criminal case due to Non-citizens Congress leader’s poor health

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court announced today that the viewing of the criminal case in which leader of Non-citizens Congress Aleksandrs Gapoņenko is accused of inciting national hate will be postponed to a later date.

Producer prices in industry up 1.0% in Latvia in August

Compared to July, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 1.0 % in August 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.9 %, but of exported products – went up by 0.1 %.

Bishop: priest suspected of sexual abuse to be operated on in hospital

Pāvels Zeiļa, who is a priest of Rezekne Aglona diocese and the suspect in the criminal case regarding sexual violence and human trafficking, will undergo a complicated surgery on Friday, 21 September, as reported by Bishop Jānis Bulis.

Study: residents withdraw money from ATMs less often but in larger amounts

Every now and then discussions about dropping cash money altogether become active in society, AS PrivatBank representatives say.

HND Grupa design company, involved in Zolitude tragery, declared insolvent

Building engineer Ivars Sergets company HND Grupa, which was involved in the case revolving around the Maxima supermarket that collapsed in Zolitude, killing 54, not five years ago, has been declared insolvent, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service suspected of misappropriation

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry’s Internal Security Bureau has detained deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Ints Sēlis and one other official – a senior inspector, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

Washington sanctions China for buying Russian military equipment

U.S. government has introduces sanctions against the Chinese army over a purchase of fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, despite a U.S. sanctions law targeting Moscow for attempts to sway in the 2016 U.S. election.

Autumn expected to begin soon in Latvia

Friday, 21 September, is expected to be warm in Latvia. Sun and considerable amount of clouds are expected, but not precipitation. Wind will draw in from the south, reaching a speed of 15-17 m/sec in western and central regions, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.