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Sunday 19.08.2018 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta
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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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Eurostat: Latvia had inflation rate higher than average in EU and Eurozone

In July, Latvia’s inflation rate was higher than the average in Europe and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

Presence of Latvian milk reduces, whereas presence of imported milk increases in Latvia

The proportion of milk produced in Latvia is starting to lose to imported milk, as concluded by Central Union of Latvian Dairy Farmers chairman Jānis Šolks.

Seven previously convicted candidates crossed from Saeima election lists

On Friday, 17 August, the Central Election Commission decided to cross out seven previously convicted deputy candidates. The decision regarding one more candidate has been postponed until the next meeting, as confirmed by the commission.

Aspiring prosecutors «drop out» in tests – half of contenders fail second stage of tests

Approximately half of aspiring prosecutor candidates has failed the second portion of tests for general and judicial knowledge.

Riga International Airport concludes first half-year with turnover increase of 13%

Riga International Airport concluded the first half-year of 2018 with turnover increase of 13% when compared to the same period of 2017, according to the airport’s unaudited and shortened account for the six-month period before 30 June 2018.

New tender announced for post of SRS director; first requirement – spotless reputation

Latvia’s State Chancellery has announced an open personnel selection process for the post of director of State Revenue Service. Application submission process will last until 14 September.

CEC to decide on four candidates’ possible relation to KGB

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received results of investigations of all 13th Saeima election candidates from Interior Affairs Ministry’s Information Centre and Latvian Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism.

Concord will have to include bread distribution costs in kebab café in its pre-election expenditures

Political party Concord will have to include in its 13th Saeima pre-election campaign expenditures the money spent by one of its candidates on distributing bread to pensioners free of charge in a kebab café in Bolderāja, as reported by TV3 news.

Weekends expected to be warm and at times hot in Latvia

On Friday, 17 August, the sky will partially cloudy again in Latvia, but no major precipitation is expected. Fog may form is certain regions at night thanks to slow wind speed. Maximum air temperature is expected to be around +22° C… +26° C. Night-time air temperature will stay at +11° C… +16° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvia’s State Audit requests additional funding to invest in workers

State Audit has requested additional funds in next year’s budget to invest in employees, as head of the institution Elita Krūmiņa mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Nearly half of children born in Latvia in 2017 were delivered by mothers with higher education

20,828 children were born in Latvia in 2017. Almost half of them were born to mothers having higher education. Out of the total number of newborn children mothers, 7,229 or 34.7 % had acquired upper secondary general or vocational education and 2,775 or 13.3 % had basic education or lower.

«Steel Magnolia» named Lithuania's most influential politician for fourth consecutive year

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, dubbed as «Steel Magnolia» by foreign press, remains the most influential politician in the country for the fourth consecutive year. In two separate polls, one by the popular ratings magazine Reitingai and the other by pollster Spinter Tyrimai, she appeared on top, being followed by Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), Valdas Adamkus, ex-president, and Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first post-independence leader.

Ex-director: Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before

In the years to come Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before, says the soon ex-director of the museum Imants Lancmanis, who intends to retire at the end of this year.

Star Rating determines the best schools in Latvia

According to the 2018 Star Rating, Riga State Gymnasium No.1 remains in the lead among Latvia’s schools. Daugavpils Russian Secondary School – Lyceum is second, and Riga State Gymnasium No.2 is third.

ABLV Bank assets worth EUR 21.052 million were recovered in July

Liquidators of ABLV Bank have recovered assets worth EUR 21.052 million in July. This includes EUR 11.602 million recovered from issued loans, EUR 7.644 million from recovered/sold securities, EUR 1,792 million from loans provided to credit institutions, and EUR 14,000 from sales of real estate and other types of property, according to the account published in Latvian Herald.

Concerns over Turkish crisis cause world stock market decline

Stock prices around the world took a massive dive on Wednesday, 15 August, as concerns over Turkish crisis’ possible influence and investors’ attempts to get rid of risky assets surfaced again.

Election commission receives word some candidates’ possible non-compliance with the law

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received information regarding possible non-compliance of multiple deputy candidates with requirements of the Saeima Election Law, says CEC chairman Arnis Cimdars.

African swine fever found in domestic pigs in Saldus; inspectors investigate illness in Unguri

African swine fever has been found in domestic pigs in Saldus Country’s Zaņa Parish. The infection was found in four domestic pigs. It cannot be excluded that ASF may have entered SIA Druvas Unguri farm’s pig enclosure along with sawdust or cars, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service Public Relations Office manager Ilze Meistere.

Lithuania lays symbolic rail on restored Mažeiķi–Reņģe railway line

Lithuania’s Lietuvos geležinkeliai railway company’s director general Mantas Bartuška and Polish oil concern Orlen manager Daniel Obatjek laid a symbolic rail on the restored railway route connecting Orlen Lithuania owned Mažeiķi oil processing plant in Lithuania and Reņģi in Latvia this Tuesday, 14 August.

Unemployment level in Latvia down to 7.7% in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.7 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, while over the year it dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

Saeima approves stricter requirements for fast loans

On Tuesday, 14 August, Saeima’s Economic Committee supported in the second reading amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law. The legislative draft states that total loan costs that exceed 0.07% a day from the loan amount are unacceptable and non-compliant with good practice, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Noord Natie develops a new business niche – attracts cruise ships for Ventspils

The first of the cruise ships attracted from SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals will arrive at Ventspils port this week. NNVT stresses that development of cruise business as a new product will help develop tourism in the city and region, as well as provide a contribution to economic development and raise recognition of NNVT terminal and the city.

Culture Ministry announces open contest for post of director of Rundale Castle Museum

Latvia’s Culture Ministry invites contenders to apply for participation in an open contest for the post of director of Rundale Castle Museum. Contenders can submit their applications before 14 September.

Lithuania’s Central Bank to assess information about Latvian VIA SMS Group

Lithuania’s Central Bank has promised to assess information regarding Latvian VIA SMS Group working in the country. This decision is a reaction to the statement made by Seimas National Security and Defence Committee member Arvydas Anušauskas that people associated with former Parex Banka owners work in that company.

Small wineries in Latvia will be allowed to use only local products

Members of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee supported amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, stating that small breweries will be allowed to use products grown only in Latvia.

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