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Ceturtdiena 17.01.2019 | Name days: Tenis, Dravis
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BNN summary of the week: Bunkus’ murder, minister’s flying pen, bank governor’s revoked permit

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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: Murder; Business; Proposal; Fight; Decision; Initiative; Opinion; Process.

MURDER: Insolvency administrator Bunkus’ attackers’ car identified. Police urge residents to report information

In relation to the murder of insolvency administrator Mārtiņš Bunkus, Latvia’s State Police ask residents who saw an orange-red VW LT with registration number JD 5960 with a cargo box covered with a red or orange tent to report any information they have to authorities.

Police also urge residents who know anything about car registration plate forgeries.

So far the investigation has found out about an orange-red VW LT being used in the armed attack on the insolvency administrator. The car had a forged registration number JD 5960. The car was found abandoned and burned shortly after the murder.

Sworn attorney, insolvency administrator Mārtiņš Bunkus was shot dead in his car at 08:40 in the morning in near Brothers Cemetery in Riga, Aizsaules Street 1 on Wednesday, 30 May.

Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis said that it was likely a hired hit. The reason may be associated with the victim’s professional activity. However, police do not exclude other possibilities.

The van in question spotted near the murder scene was found shortly after the murder – abandoned and burned.

The White Range Rover, driven by Bunkus, was shot through the wind shield on the driver’s side. The care was on its way towards the Brothers Cemetery when it was attacked. The car steered off the road, ran over a road sign and crashed into the fence of the cemetery, damaging it.

Full article here

BUSINESS: airBaltic signs contract for purchase of 60 more CS300 aircraft

Latvia’s national airBaltic airline and Bombardier Commercial Aircraft have announced the signing of a procurement contract for 30 Bombardier CS300 aircraft with option to procure 30 more in the future, as BNN was informed by the airline.

This order is an addition to the one signed for the provision of 20 CS300 aircraft. It also forms the foundation for airBaltic’s Destination 2025 business plan, continuing the previous Horizon 2021 plan.

«As the first airline in the world to have commenced flights using CS300 aircraft, we have made a far-reaching decision in favour of new technologies that will help ensure sustainable profitability. Because CS300 helps save up to 22% of fuel, it helps maintain operational costs down. We experienced excellent growth in 2017. We also proved to the world this aircraft’s unique advantages and advantages. We have successfully commenced modernization of our existing fleet. We are happy to expand our fleet to up to 80 CS300 aircraft, which will replace our other aircraft within the next year,» says airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.

«New we are ready to commence the next stage of our business strategy – Destination 2025. As part of this strategy, airBaltic has plans to expand its activities. One major part of the new business plan is the formation of a larger and more exclusive fleet consisting only of CS300 aircraft, which are more appropriate for our market,» said Gauss.

Full article here

PROPOSAL: children’s safety should be a priority at all times, not just for one holiday

Any child capable of formulating their opinion should be provided with freedom to voice them in all matters that affect them. In addition, children’s opinion should be provided with enough attention in accordance with their age and maturity, says Latvia’s Welfare Ministry.

Friday, 1 June, Latvia will be celebrating International Day for Protection of Children. This day is celebrated in many countries of the world. It was established in 1925 during World Conference for the Protection of Children in Geneva. Since 1950, International Day for Protection of Children is celebrated by most countries around the world, as noted by the ministry.

In Latvia, 1 June is an official celebrated day in Latvia. It was added to the official list in 2017. Each resident’s duty is protecting their own and other children’s safety. Residents have a duty to report situations when violations of children’s rights to police, orphan courts or other child protection institutions.

«This day is a good time for all of us to think about children’s safety in the broadest sense – from safety out on street to emotional and physical safety. Unfortunately, people tend to think about children’s safety only when disaster has already struck. Summer is here – school is out. I urge resident to explain to their children the importance of safety at home, in school, at the beach and in water, on the road and in parks. Only then will be able to provide safety for our children,» says Welfare Minister Jānis Reirs.

Full article here

FIGHT: Minister’s pen flies because Saeima’s committee conceptually declines school age initiative

On Thursday, 31 May, Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee declined the initiative for starting school at the age of six.

The Saeima will now have to decide on changes.

Amendments regarding starting school at the age of six were submitted by Education and Science Committee.

The committee also declined the proposal associated with the ministry’s proposed reforms for the country’s school system.

At the same time, the committee also discussed a compromise solution for the reform’s introduction period several other education stages.

Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis, who emphasized that with the rejection of this proposal ‘deputies have tossed in the bin’ a legislative proposal proposed by hundreds of experts.

The committee decided to preserve the existing four general education programmes. The minister said the committee’s decision excludes this initiative’s realization, which would have allowed education institution to create different choices for education programmes.

Full article here

DECISION: Authorities revoke Bank of Latvia governor’s access to official secrets

Constitution Protection Bureau has officially revoked the permit held by governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, who is accused of bribery, denying him access to official secrets, as confirmed by his lawyer Saulvedis Vārpiņš.

The Constitution Protection Bureau says the investigation is over. No comments are provided by the bureau.

In February, Rimšēvičs was made suspect in a criminal case launched by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in accordance with Part 4 of Section 320 of the Criminal Law – for requesting and accepting a bribe. The estimated size of the bribe in question was at least EUR 100,000. Businessman Māris Martinsons was also detained initially, but later released from custody. A security measure not associated with deprivation of freedom has been applied to him.

Full article here

INITIATIVE: Lithuania procrastinates ratification of Istanbul Convention

The superstitions and the stereotypes in Lithuania are stronger than the good will to tackle domestic violence and women abuse.

The ratification of the Istanbul Convention has stalled in the Seimas, Lithuanian legislature – the question has been rubbed out from the Seimas’ Spring Session agenda and is unlikely it will end up being there in the foreseen future.

The bone of contention is the definition of gender and its Lithuanian translation, approved by the government chancellery, as «social gender».

«I believe that being Conservative Lithuania is not up to it,» Kęstutis Girnius, a political analyst of US descent, commented to BNN.

Meanwhile, Vygaudas Ušackas, one of the plausible presidential election candidates, sited to BNN «complexity» of the issue and declined to comment on it.

«I feel my knowledge on the issues contains quite some gaps,» he admitted.

«I am not surprised that the Seimas voted against the inclusion of the ratification of the Convention in the parliamentary session. When many of the MPs live in the medieval ages, it has become the real bugaboo to scare all,» Dovilė Šakalienė, a progressive MP, told BNN.

The ruling Farmers and Greens (LVŽS), the opposition Conservatives, the Electoral Action of Poles, the Order and Justice Party and the Labour partly are staunchly against it. Only the Social Democrats and the beleaguered Liberals exhort to vote for the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, in its entirety.

Full article here

OPINION: Riga Mayor says tree-planting activists in Riga are «absolute jackasses»

People who arbitrarily decide to plant trees in the middle of streets in Riga are ‘absolute jackasses’, says Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs.

He said in an interview to Diena: «In all my years working in the municipality, I have never seen such a level of idiocy. When Barona Street was repaired, we created space for trees and bushes. Tree-planting is going as planned. And now some absolute jackasses show up, dig up locations reserved for Rīgas meži to plant trees in an organized manner and plant there who knows what, make that a show and then act surprised when we then have to dig up what they dug in there […]»

Ušakovs added that trees will be planted in empty spots this year in accordance with the plan and nature’s calendar.

The mayor is of the same opinion when it comes to people who draw bicycle lines on Riga’s streets.

Full article here

PROCESS: Lithuania has permitted torture by U.S. authorities, rules ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the case of U.S. held Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania that the Baltic state has secretly allowed the «ill-treatment and arbitrary detention» of the terror suspect by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on Lithuanian soil.

According to a press release by the Court published on Wednesday, May 31, the applicant in the case is a stateless Palestinian who was born in 1971 called Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, who is also known as Abu Zubaydah, about him being kept in a secret CIA prison that the Court ruled had existed in Lithuania between February 2005 and March 2006.

Judges found unanimously that there have been: «Violations of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights, because of the Government’s failure to effectively investigate Mr Husayn’s allegations and because of its complicity in the CIA’s actions that had led to ill-treatment; and violations of Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to respect for private life), and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), in conjunction with Article 3»

Full article here


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Lithuania’s ruling majority swings at media freedom, experts warn

All media, the so-called fourth authority of power, has been facing some international challenges, with the European Parliament set to vote next Monday on final text of Article 13, the proposed EU directive on copyright, which, if implemented, could censor internet users and internet platform hosts through artificial intelligence-employing filters.

Riga Active Seniors Alliance: seniors’ behaviour on the road should be discussed

Riga Active Seniors Alliance supports Latvian State Police informative safety campaign that addresses the behaviour of pedestrians on the road. This campaign invites seniors to pay attention to their own behaviour to ensure safe movement without putting at risk other traffic participants.

New healthcare service principle’s adoption in Latvia postponed until July

The rights to receive healthcare services as part of state compulsory healthcare regardless of their health insurance contributions will remain available for residents until 30 June 2019, Latvian Saeima has decided.

150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

Estonian state energy giant Eesti Energia, which mostly generates energy from fossile oil shale plants will reduce its operations at the Narva power plants, resulting in 150 job cuts.

Opinion: Russia will definitely interfere with European Parliament elections

According to Latvian member of the European Parliament Inese Vaidere, Russia will definitely attempt to interfere with upcoming European Parliament elections.

In no-deal Brexit, border control in Ireland would be obligatory

In an interview with the British news portal The Guardian, Michael Lux, a former head of customs legislation and procedures at the European commission, said the UK would have to impose customs checks and tariffs on the northern side of the border, despite claims to the contrary by Brexiters.

Opinion: Daugavpils City Council doesn’t want emergency elections; to agree on new mayor

Daugavpils City Council deputies Rihards Eigims and Andrejs Elksniņš are afraid of voters’ opinion in regards to emergency elections. Because of that, they will agree on the next mayoral candidate at the 17 January meeting, said Latgale party representative Jānis Lāčplēsis.

Scientists suggest sustainable diet to save the planet and prevent premature deaths

An international group of 37 scientists has developed a diet that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.

Latvian parties taking too long on compiling government cooperation documents

Although work on the new government’s cooperation documents has taken more time than initially expected, Latvian prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš still hopes for the government to be approved next week.

Ministry: more children end up in families in Latvia not through foster families or guardians

More and more children in Latvia end up in families not through adoption, but through foster families or guardians, says Welfare Minister’s office manager Linda Baļčūne.

Estonian population continues to increase, mostly due to immigration

Estonia has registered population growth for the third consecutive year as 4,690 more persons lived in the Baltic country on January 1, 2019 than a year before, official statistics show.

Sweden to nominate head of government, who could finally be confirmed

In the Swedish parliament, three parties have stated they would not vote against caretaking Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to have another attempt to form a center-left government after a four-month political crisis.

In 2018 Latvia experienced more rapid growth of car registrations than EU

Last year the number of newly registered cars in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union, according to the latest data from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Latvian government prepares legislation to protect rights of Latvian in Britain after Brexit

Latvian government has started working on a document that provides for the protection of rights of Latvian citizens working in Britain and vice versa after Brexit, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Karolis Sankovski appointed as chairman of RB Rail council

A new council chairman has been appointed in Baltic joint company RB Rail. Riia Sillave and Edvīns Bērziņš were picked as vice-chairmen, as the company reports.

airBaltic carried record number of passengers in 2018 – 4.1 million

Latvian airBaltic airline carried a total of 4,136,711 passengers to different destinations in 2018. This is 17% more when compared to 2017. The number of passengers carried in 2018 is airBaltic’s all-time highest, as BNN was told by the company.

KPV LV to decide on dismissing Kaimiņš as vice-chairman of party’s faction

KPV LV party’s Saeima faction plans to discuss the proposal of dismissing Artuss Kaimiņš from the post of the faction’s vice-chairman.

Latvian minister sceptical about abolishing MPC system without litigations

Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens does not expect abolishment of the mandatory procurement component system this year to pass without litigations.

Latvian parties agree on 90% of content of coalition cooperation agreement

Parties of the forming coalition move towards a cooperation model in which matters are resolved based on the principle of consensus, says prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš from New Unity.

What do Britons actually want? Reactions from EU politicians

Commenting on the rejected deal of UK withdrawal, leaders of the European Union and member states, which are British neighbours, are seeking clarity over the exit scenario London would prefer if the British really want to leave.

Ministry fails to coordinate decision regarding Riga City Council’s dismissal

On Tuesday, 15 January, Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry failed to coordinate the latest redaction of the decision project On the Dismissal of Riga City Council, because the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments and Latvian Association of Large Cities objected it.

UK rejects Brexit deal, May faces no-confidence vote

British Prime Minister Theresea May hopes to overcome a vote of no confidence in her government, following the rejection of her Brexit deal in the UK Parliament.

Is polygamy the answer for Latvia? «Demographic affairs expert» Parādnieks is the man for the job!

The government formation process in Latvia is progressing slowly and painfully. It is as though a ship without navigation – Latvia has yet to find its way in the ocean of political roads. And this ocean I full of «icebergs» Latvia keeps bumping against. The latest one is National Alliance’s official candidate, an «expert» at resolving demographic problems Imants Parādnieks.

Latvian government approves unified requirements for road and street construction quality

On Tuesday, 15 January, Latvian government approved a project of rules from the Cabinet of Ministers. The goal of this project is ensuring rational use of public funds for road and street construction.

Strike in German airports cancels hundreds of flights

Several hundred flights have been cancelled in German airports on January 15, because of strike as part of an airport worker wage dispute. Germany's powerful Verdi union has announced the strike would last from 02:00 am until 8:00 pm local time at the airports of Frankfurt, Munich, Hanover, Bremen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden and Erfurt.