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Tuesday 25.09.2018 | Name days: Rauls, Rodrigo
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BNN summary of the week: Control Service gets new head and Latvian ministry’s structure discussed in detail

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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: Change; Increase; Law; Fight; Opinion and Future.

CHANGE: Latvian companies in Vietnam to be provided with a stable tax system

Latvian companies working in Vietnam will be provided with a stable tax system that will not be affected by amendments of Vietnam’s regulations. This is provided by Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee’s conceptually supported on Wednesday, 9 May, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

The legislative draft provides for ratifying Latvian-Vietnamese agreement on prevention of double taxation and tax avoidance. The objective of the agreement is preventing tax avoidance of all involved sides. The document will cover a legislative base to ensure direct cooperation between Latvian and Vietnamese tax administrations, ensuring regular exchange of information, as confirmed by Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Full article here

INCREASE: events in Victory Park passed without major incidents

«The annual 9 May events in Victory Park passed without any major incidents and physical confrontations,» said Chief of State Police’s Riga Region Department Juris Šulte in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

On 9 May, State Police filed administrative violation reports for 30 people. People were fined for appearing drunk or under influence of other substances in public, hooliganism, refusal to comply with police officers’ requests, drunk driving and other violations.

Last year, the number of administrative violation reports filed on 9 May was 24.

Šulte says the number of visitors was around 150,000.

According to her, events in the park transpired without any major incidents.

Full article here

LAW: Court applies arrest to pro-Russian activist in Latvia

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court applied an arrest to pro-Russian activist Vladimirs Lindermans on Thursday, 10 May.

The matter regarding his security measure was viewed behind closed doors. Around 15 of Lindermans’ supporters were waiting for him outside the courtroom during the session. Among them were the head of Latvian Russians Union Tatyana Zhdanok and another pro-Russian activist Josifs Korens.

Lindermans’ attorney Jeļena Kvjatkovska says the court’s ruling will be challenged in Riga Regional Court.

She also says she has sent a letter to the Prosecutor General’s Office in relation to her client’s arrest.

Lindermans is the second pro-Russian activist to have been arrested in the last month in Latvia.

Full article here

FIGHT: Who wins – Daugavpils mayor’s language skills or State Language Centre?

In spite of Latvia’s State Language Centre’s conclusion regarding his insufficient language skills, Mayor of Daugavpils Rihards Eigims intends to continue performing his duties.

Eigims says he is prepared to take this matter to court. He had previously said his language skills are sufficient for him to continue performing his duties, communicating with residents and officials, as well as defending the city’s interests in different structures.

State Language Centre’s representative Sarmīte Pāvulēna had previously reported the institution’s intention to request revoking Eigims mandate for not using state language when performing his duties.

In response to an application, SLC found that Eigims has failed to comply with the requirement to use state language in his duties at the highest level. After reporting his violation, the centre gave Eigims six months to improve his language skills. However, the centre says the mayor’s skills have not improved at all.

«Chairman of a city council should have no problems with language skills. A person in such an important post should speak state language freely. Unfortunately, this is not the case here,» says Pāvulēna.

Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis had previously told Latvijas Radio’s programme Krustpunktā that the matter with Eigims is not politicized.

Full article here

OPINION: Latvia’s Environment Ministry has mafia-like structure

«Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry is abundantly misused. Over the years it has fallen under management of people representing interests of very narrow groups of people. Among them are representatives of the Union of Greens and Farmers, who have received the mandate to manage the ministry in exchange for demonstrating their loyalty to the regime in Ventspils. UGF has become one with Ventspils powers. Other parties, such as Harmony and the National Alliance, are trying to hide this fact,» said Ventspils opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis in an interview to BNN.

He says that those parties often defend old nomenclatures – «servants of the Soviet Union and their ambiguous operations in Latvia’s state power structures». «This is felt quite well in Ventspils. The only positive exception was Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Edmunds Sprūdžs, who was unfortunately ‘eaten away’ by mafia structures present in Latvia’s party system,» Landmanis continues.

He believes an internal lobby has formed inside the ministry. This lobby has served the interests of a very narrow group of people for almost as long as Latvia has had its independence restored. «It is almost a mafia-like structure that operates alongside the state structure. Its power centre, however, is located elsewhere.»

Landmanis also mentions that the ministry is currently led by a representative of the National Alliance, and this party allegedly fights for democratic values. «Municipal matters are made, it seems, by parties that work well with each other – UGF and Harmony – which leaves the minister from NA is an odd position,» says Landmanis.

«Latvia’s environment minister, including the current minister Kaspars Gerhards, should have requested a change of Ventspils City Council chairman a long time ago. Lembergs has been absent since 2007. It is clear he cannot be allowed to be chairman, but the ministry acts as though it sees nothing,» BNN was told by Ventspils opposition deputy.

Full article here

FUTURE: Latvia’s prime minister appoints new head of Control Service

Lawyer Ilze Znotiņa has agreed to take post as head of Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity, as confirmed by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in an interview to Rīta panorama programme.

Znotiņa will take office 1 June. She provided written consent to lead the Control Service on Wednesday, 9 May, said the prime minister.

Kučinskis says he wants the current head – Viesturs Burkāns – to continue providing support to the service. He said Burkāns may be appointed as deputy chairman.

The prime minister adds that Znotiņa’s work group will search for a solution to ensure the service’s independence and reorganization. Kučinskis allows that the status of the Control Service could be similar to that of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau or Constitution Protection Bureau.

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.