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Saturday 20.10.2018 | Name days: Leonīda, Leonīds
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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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Central Election Commission approves results of 13th Saeima elections in Latvia

On Friday, 19 October, the Central Election Commission approved results of 13th Saeima elections. According to approved results, Harmony received 19.8% of votes, KPV LV – 14.25%, New Conservative Party – 13.59%, Attīstībai/Par – 12.04%, National Alliance – 11.01%, Union of Greens and Farmers – 9.91%, and New Unity – 6.69%.

Bill Gates met by Estonian Prime Minister

Estonian head of government Jüri Ratas has met with Bill Gates, the co-founder and former head of the American software giant Microsoft to look into possibilities to support Africa through research and development.

Latvia’s general budget deficit estimated around EUR 155.7 million

In 2017, general government budget deficit accounted for EUR 155.7 million or 0.6 % of the Gross Domestic Product and general government consolidated gross debt at the end of 2017 amounted to EUR 10 806.8 million or 40.0 % of the GDP.

Latvijas Radio predicts to have 35.7% of radio market in the near future

In the next five years Latvijas Radio expects to own 35.7% of the radio market. Additionally, it is also expected that the audience listening over the internet and social media will increase significantly. «Eight out of ten listeners completely trust the content reported by public media,» as reported by Latvijas Radio representative Ieva Aile.

Producer price level in Latvian industry down 5%

Compared to August, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry fell by 0.4 % in September 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market reduced by 0.7 %, but of exported products – by 0.2 %.

ABLV Bank successfully pays 69% of all guaranteed remuneration amount

The liquidated ABLV Bank has repaid clients EUR 328.66 million, which is 69% of the guaranteed remuneration amount, as confirmed by Citadele Bank’s corporate communications manager Ieva Prauliņa.

CEC to approve and announce the final 13th Saeima election results

On Friday, 19 October, the Central Election Commission will organize a meeting, during which it is planned to approve the final results of 13th Saeima elections and announce deputies elected to the parliament, as reported by CEC representative Kristīne Bērziņa.

Corruption watchdog asked to look into Ventspils City Council’s and Ventspils nafta termināls’ EUR 2.5 million deal

Latvia’s State Audit has asked Finance Ministry and Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau to investigate the deal worth EUR 2.5 million between SIA Ventspils nafta terminals and Ventspils City Council, as noted in the report from State Audit’s inspection of the 2017 report on state and municipal budgets’ completion.

EU in favour of using sanctions against cyber-attacks, chemical weapons' threats

The member states of the European Union have in this week's summit decided to implement sanctions over threats of chemical weapons and expressed readiness to implement sanctions against cyber-attacks.

Canadian cannabis shops face shortages on 2nd day of legalisation

Cannabis stores in Canada have experienced shortages on the second day since the legalisation of recreational cannabis, as the demand is much higher than the supply of the drug.

Latvian parties’ talks with the president fail to outline a prime minister candidate

Parties that met with Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis on Thursday, 18 October, failed to name prime minister candidates they would support. Nevertheless, parties did confirm the desire to form as wide a coalition as possible by continuing talks with all parties except Harmony.

Putin: People in ex-Soviet Republics had more opportunities during USSR

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has asserted that people in Russia's neighbouring countries, once under Soviet occupation, regretted the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Autumn-like weather to end October’s unusually warm period

Soon enough, the warm weather that was present throughout this week and most of October will be replaced be colder weather. Air temperature will drop considerably at the end of the week. Wind will pick up in strength at the beginning of next week, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Merkel finds Brexit agreement still doable, but time running out

German Chancellor Angela Merkel evaluated after this week's summit of the European Union, that there is not much time left for an agreement on the UK leaving the bloc, but it a deal should still be realistically attainable.

Lithuania opposition MP: «The ruling majority muddles through a «foxy» budget»

For the fifth consecutive year, Lithuania’s new budget, now for 2019, is described as «record» due to the size of surplus and the hefty allocations to education, health care, innovations and reduction of social inequality.

Majority of Latvian residents believe the government does not respect their opinion

The majority of Latvian residents are convinced their government does not respect society’s opinion on different matters, according to results of a survey by SKDS.

Minister: results of European Council talks on Brexit are not surprising

The fact that talks organized by the European Council regarding Britain’s exit and conditions have concluded with no real progress, is nothing surprising, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

After Crimea college shooting, authorities look for accomplice

After a school in Russian-annexed Crimea suffered a shooting and explosive attack, with 20 people killed, the Russian occupation authorities have stated that a search is on for a possible accomplice to the attacker.

Number of newborns continues to decline in Latvia

The number of births registered over the first nine months of 2018 is 1,267 children or 8 % smaller than that registered in the respective period of 2017.

State Audit finds it difficult to follow use of funding for Latvia’s Centenary events

According to Latvian State Audit, it is hard to follow the use of funding intended for Latvia’s Centenary events.

EU and Britain agree to disagree, maybe for several months

After the European Union's summit decided that not enough progress has been achieved in Brexit talks to hold a separate Brexit summit in November, London has expressed readiness to consider the prolonging of the divorce transition period for some months.

Anti-Money Laundering Service to be supervised by Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers

On Thursday, 18 October, members of the Saeima supported amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in the first reading.

Latvian Saeima conceptually approves new Law on the Handling of Weapons

On Thursday, 18 October, members of the Latvian Saeima conceptually supported the project for a new Law on the Handling of Weapons. The legislative draft provides new classifications of arms and munitions, as well as coordination with EU regulations on weapons handling, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Latvia’s smallest 10th grade class has only three pupils

Latvia’s smallest 10th grade class has only three pupils, says Education and Science Ministry’s Education Department director Līga Buceniece.

Clocks to be turned one hour back on 28 October

28 October marks the end of daylight savings time in Latvia and elsewhere in the world. This is when all clocks are to be turned one hour back, Latvian Economy Ministry reminds.

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