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Monday 23.07.2018 | Name days: Magda, Magone, Mērija
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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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Week in Lithuania. Liberals ex-leader fails to recover confiscated cash

Eligijus Masiulis, a former Liberal Movement leader on trial in a major political corruption case, has failed to recover cash that was found and seized during searches of his home.

BNN summary of the week: open presidential election in Latvia and no more plastic bags for shoppers

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Change; Fight; Decline; Business; Progress.

SRS: cash register reform still stagnates, but has become much faster than it was last year

The cash registers reform continues stagnating. However, it has become much faster than it was a year ago, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Specialists to search for solutions to topical environmental problems in Ventspils

On Friday, 20 July, a meeting was held between Ventspils Commercial Port representatives and specialists from State Environment Service.

Children with functional disorders to receive services financed by EU funds

Child invalids will have access to social services intended to improve their social skills and mobility. More than EUR 4.2 million has been allocated for this goal from the European Social Fund, as confirmed by Latvia’s Central Financing and Contracting Agency.

Producer price level in industry up 4.3% in Latvia

Compared to June 2017, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.3 % in June 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 4.8 % and those of exported products by 3.7 %.

Total tax debts in Latvia in July – 1.212 billion euros

At the beginning of July total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding debts, halted debts and debts applied with repayment term extensions, accounted for EUR 1.212 billion, which is 0.8% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

Survey: every third Latvian resident has received illegal loan offers

Nearly every third resident in Latvia or 31% of respondents admit having received offers to use illegal loan services, as concluded in a survey performed by Latvian Alternative Financial Services Association and SKDS.

Libya opposed to EU's idea to establish migrant centres in North Africa

Libya is against the solution of the European Union to set up migrant centres in the North African country as a means to keep migrants from arriving in the bloc and Libya would not be convinced with financial support, its Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has noted.

Arrest warrant on Catalan ex-President cancelled by Spain

The Supreme Court of Spain cancelled a European arrest warrant for former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont, as Germany refused to extradite him to face accusations of rebellion for declaring the independence of Spain's region, Catalonia in 2017.

Latvian government plans to allow handing expired food to charity

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has prepared amendments to the Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food that provide permission to hand over certain types of food products to charity after the end of their expiry date.

Estonian industrial producer prices up 2.9% since June 2017

Estonian industrial producer price index has risen by 2.9% between June 2017 and the first summer month this year, resulting in an increase of export prices as well, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Putin urges NATO to quit «irresponsibly» developing ties with Ukraine, Georgia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin cautioned NATO against developing deeper relations with Ukraine and Georgia, evaluating such a policy was irresponsible and would have consequences for the military alliance.

Latvian parliament not in a hurry to support president Vejonis for a second term

Political parties represented in the Saeima are not eager to support President Raimonds Vējonis for his remainder for a second term.

Weather in Latvia will remain warm and even hot at times

Weather in Latvia in the nearest couple of days will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that the sky will be partially covered by clouds; thunderstorms are also expected, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Hungary sued in EU Court for criminalising help to illegal immigrants

The European Union's executive body has stated that a law in Hungary that criminalises support for illegal immigrants is in breach with EU law and Hungary has now been referred to the European Court of Justice for the alleged non-compliance.

Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

Political messages can be channeled in various ways and the ruling now Lithuanian party, LFGU has chosen a very delicate way of the communications – through a TV series featuring the beauty and the ambiance of Naisiai, a picturesque settlement in Siauliai district.

Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.

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