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Wednesday 20.03.2019 | Name days: Made, Irbe
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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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Latvian minister: we should work with convicts, not isolate them

People who are currently isolated from society in prisons should not be kept isolated – they should be allowed to re-socialize, said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns at a press-conference about the study on former inmates’ abilities to re-socialize.

Brexit extension: Theresa May won’t as for more than 50 days

British Prime Minister Theresa May wants only a short Brexit term extension that will not exceed 50 days, as reported by The Guardian.

Business Index: 56.7% of businessmen in Latvia believe government hurt businesses

When asked about the influence Latvia’s government has on the country’s entrepreneurship, 56.6% of interviewed businessmen said the government interferes with the sector, whereas only 7.3% said the government provides assistance, according to results of Turība University’s Business Index.

Moody’s affirms Latvian energy company Latvenergo’s credit rating at Baa2

International credit rating agency Moody’s has affirmed the credit rating of Latvian energy company AS Latvenergo at Baa2 with a stable future outlook, as stated in Latvienergo’s announcement.

Teachers’ protest in Riga gathers 2,000 people

The protest act organized by Latvian teachers outside the Saeima building in Riga gathered approximately 2,000 people, according to Latvian public media.

Latvian Competition Council looks into scandalous «nano-water» case

The Competition Council in Latvia has acquired information regarding the so-called nano-water case, suggesting that municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme had taken part in a cartel agreement, coordinating an offer of one of the contenders and informing the company in advance of the happenings to ensure their victory in the procurement.

Latvian minister: EU cannot move away from multi-sided trade rules

The European Union cannot afford moving away from multi-sided trade rules, said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, participating in a meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels.

Latvian Prime Minister says MPC abolishment on 31 March may cost EUR 1 billion

If the mandatory procurement component system is abolished on 31 March, this could cost the country around EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian politicians fail to find a way to increase wages for teachers yet again

A day before teachers’ planned protest act Latvian politicians failed to convince Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees about the options to find money to increase wages of teachers this year. With that, teachers intend to go through with the plan to hold a protest on Wednesday, 20 March.

Latvia’s 2020 budget draft sent to the parliament for first viewing

On Tuesday, 19 March, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported this year’s state budget project and decided to submit it to the parliament for its first viewing. The committee decided to submit 14 additional legislative drafts associated with the budget, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Minister: Latvia needs representatives in EP the country can be proud of

«Latvian voters should keep in mind that Latvia is represented by only eight members in the European Parliament. It is vital to find candidates we would not be ashamed of. There is no other recipe – if you want to affect the composition of the European Parliament, it is important to remember that results from votes. Nothing will change if we stand on the sidelines,» said Latvian Culture Minister and MEP candidate Dace Melbārde in an interview to BNN.

Rigvir medication distribution in Latvia halted temporarily

Bio-technology company Rigvir has decided to halt distribution of Rigvir medication in Latvia temporarily, as confirmed by Rigvir Group CEO Kristīne Jučkoviča.

Finance commission’s head says Latvia has too many banks for its small market

It is clear there are too many banks for Latvia’s domestic market, said chairman of Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēteris Putniņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 19 March.

Latvian residents become more optimistic about government’s work

In one month’s time Latvian residents’ opinion of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government has improved, according to data from SKDS study.

Dutch authorities arrest Utrecht tram shooter

According to Dutch authorities, the man who opened fire in a tram in Utrecht, killing three and injuring five, has been arrested.

Parliament: Latvian universities should be among 500 best in the world

Latvia’s leading universities have a clear vision for the future. It is topical for continued development of the country’s education and science sector.

Latvian minister to request police investigation in public transport company

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has finished its analysis of the audit performed in municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme. Soon the ministry plans to ask law enforcement institutions to provide their opinion on whether or not there had been fictive employment or other violations committed by the company, as reported by TV3 news.

Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.