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Tuesday 23.10.2018 | Name days: Daina, Dainida, Dainis
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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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Family Physicians Association wants to see a Healthcare Minister from newly-elected parties

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Three contenders remain for the post of chief of Latvia’s State Revenue Service

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Latvian Security Police detains pensioner under suspicion of spying for Russia

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E-health project’s implementation so far has cost Latvia EUR 16.4 million

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Latvian government proposes rules for finance crime combating in non-banking loan sector

On Monday, 22 October, the Cabinet of Ministers Committee supported Economy Ministry’s developed rules on prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing for consumer loan and debt recovery service providers.

Latvia continues providing medical assistance to victims of crisis in Ukraine

On Monday, 22 October, eight victims of the crisis in Ukraine commenced 18-day long treatment in National Rehabilitation Centre in Vaivari, as reported by Latvian Foreign Affairs Ministry.

SRS: car retailers are starting to exit grey economy sector

Latvian state budget’s revenue from car retail sector has grown by more than EUR 9.7 million, reaching EUR 119.6 million in the first nine months of 2018, according to information from the State Revenue Service. The largest increase was observed for value added tax.

Attīstībai/Par! candidate believes Edgars Rinkēvičs should remain as Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister

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Opinions of Latvian Finance and Healthcare ministries differ on healthcare budget

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NCP leader: we will make sure Union of Greens and Farmers is left in opposition

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USA to pull out from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

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Rain and strong wind expected in Latvia this week; possibility of wet snow remains

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Week in Lithuania. Dual citizenship referendum to be held with presidential vote

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The changes were backed by 72 lawmakers, one was against and one abstained. The Seimas had already tried to adopt this bill initiated by the ruling parties but failed to get a majority after the opposition blocked the bid and fewer than 71 lawmakers voted. SDLPL was founded earlier this year by a group of former members of the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, who split from the party last year. MEP decides against running for Vilnius mayor Lithuanian MEP Antanas Guoga, earlier mentioned as the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union's potential candidate for Vilnius mayor, has announced its decision not to stand as a candidate in a direct mayoral election. He says he plans to continue work in Lithuania, developing and presenting abroad his fintech ambitions, attracting technology and education investment, providing ideas on closing the social exclusion gap. Guoga, 44, was elected to the European Parliament, being on the list of the Liberal Movement. He has funded Blockchain Centras Vilnius, a blockchain bureau, in Vilnius. EU support to Lithuanian farmers Direct support to Lithuanian farmers must reach the EU average or at least move toward that level, President Dalia Grybauskaite said on Thursday, October 18, criticising the bloc for not delivering on its promise. The president commented on a protest being staged by Lithuanian farmers in Brussels on Thursday to press their demand for higher EU direct payments. Lithuanian farmers held their protest together with their Polish, Latvian and Czech counterparts. MO Modern Art Museum opened in Vilnius MO Museum, a privately-owned new modern art museum built in place of a demolished Soviet-era movie theatre in Vilnius, was opened to the public on Thursday, October 18. Founded and financed by Danguolė and Viktoras Butkus, MO Museum displays a Lithuanian modern art collection dating from the 1960 up to the present day. 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Ruling party's leader calls to resign Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), on Wednesday, October 17, threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against MP Povilas Urbšys and called on members of the Chief Official Ethics Commission (VTEK) to resign. Karbauskis' statement came after an article in the Delfi.lt news website about the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Mindaugas Šiaurys as head of the VTEK Prevention Department. He said the article completely discredits VTEK as an institution, calling on its members to resign. The ethics watchdog has repeatedly looked into Karbauskis' actions and has on several occasions ruled that he failed to declare his transactions within the time limit set by law. EBU warns Lithuania The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has warned that linking the mandates of public broadcasters' supervisory bodies to the terms of office of the appointing authorities may increase political interference. Monika Garbaciauskaite-Budriene, director general of the Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT), turned to the EBU after the Seimas' ad-hoc investigative commission on the Lithuanian public broadcaster's activities had proposed to change the process of appointment of LRT Council members to link their mandates with the terms of office of the appointing authorities. Major drugstore chains in dispute with watchdog Limedika, Gintarinė Vaistinė and Norfos Vaistine, operating one of the largest drugstore chains in Lithuania, have turned to court with a request to order the Competition Council to return information which, they say, is not related to the ongoing probe into competition-restricting agreements, the competition watchdog launched earlier this year. The companies want the Competition Council to keep only information covering a period from Aug. 30, 2017. The dispute between the companies and the watchdog will be further heard by the court of first instance which had rejected the companies' appeal, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuanian ruled last week. Lithuania plans exports to Japan Lithuania plans to export ready-to-bake food products and pets to Japan, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday, October 15. The two countries' agriculture vice-ministers agreed in Tokyo last week to immediately begin talks on certification procedures. Lithuania's potential export products include pizzas, kibinai and similar ready-to-bake products containing poultry and cheese, the ministry said. The countries also expect to agree shortly on cat and dog export certification procedures, which will open the way for Lithuanian breeders to export pets to Japan. FCIS finds illegal Ukrainian employee at supermarket Lithuania's Financial Crime Investigation Service has identified a Ukrainian citizen illegally working at a supermarket in Vilnius. 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