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Ceturtdiena 23.05.2019 | Name days: Leontīne, Ligija, Lonija, Leokādija
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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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All presidential candidates in Latvia meet requirements of the law

All perspective presidential candidates announced so far – European Union Court of Justice Judge Egils Levits, Ombudsman Juris Jansons and Saeima deputy Didzis Šmits – meet requirements of the law and are able to stand candidate for this post, according to Saeima Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee’s head Janīna Kursīte-Pakule.

Suspended Mayor of Riga decides takes appeal case to court

Administrative District Court in Riga has commenced a case following a request from suspended Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs in objection of Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce on his suspension from his post as chairman of Riga City Council, as confirmed by the court.

Estonia-developed TransferWise highest-valued fintech start-up in Europe

The Estonia-developed cash transfer service TransferWise has been valued at 3,1 billion euros. This makes the British-based firm the leading financial technology start-up by value.

Employment level in Latvia grows 0.9% in 2019

903.6 thousand people or 64.4 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in Q1 2019.

Unemployment level in Latvia reaches 7% at beginning of 2019

In Q1 2019 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 6.9 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate has not changed, while over the year it fell by 1.3 percentage points.

Estonia’s Ansip expects different EU Commissioner for Estonia

European Commission seeking more women in its next composition and Estonian Reform Party being nationally in opposition would mean that Andrus Ansip would not continue as the Estonian Commissioner, the politician himself says.

Latvian media council objects to Saeima’s intervention in its work

Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council considers the letter Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns has sent to the Saeima on the dismissal of the council’s chairperson Dace Ķezbere «an unacceptable and illegal unprecedented act, because the executive power and a single political party interferes with the democratic public system and does not fit EU laws and recommendations.»

Catalan separatist politicians take seats in Spanish parliament despite being jailed

In the Spanish parliament, five Catalan separatist politicians, who are tried for rebellion, have taken their seats in the Spanish parliament won in Spain’s general election.

Latvian railway company Pasažieru vilciens hopes to sign train supply contract this year

Latvian joint stock company Pasažieru vilciens might succeed in signing the contract for the supply of electric trains before the end of 2019 even if Procurement Monitoring Bureau expands procurement documents with new requirements, said PV board chairman Rodžers Jānis Grigulis.

«Last chance» to pass Brexit deal met with skepticism in British parliament

In the United Kingdom, the latest offer by British Prime Minister Theresa May to pass the country’s withdrawal deal with the European Union has been criticised by influential groups in the British parliament.

Latvia’s prime minister says government will not re-evaluate prosecutor general

Latvia’s government will not evaluate Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers’ suitability for his post, said Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds on Wednesday, 22 May.

Early voting in European Parliament election opens for Latvian residents

The beginning of early voting in European Parliament elections for all 954 election sites is set for 17:00 on Wednesday, 22 May.

Minister says results of train procurement suggest possible liquidation of Pasažieru vilciens

Results of the electric train procurement of joins stock company Pasažieru vilciens make one consider possible liquidation of the company, Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits told journalists on 21 May.

OECD: Baltic region's most rapid growth predicted for Estonia

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has published its latest outlook. In it, the organization expects Latvia to experience the slowest economic growth among Baltic States.

Latvia re-reviews train procurement and declares Škoda Vagonka the winner

After reviewing the train procurement for a third time, Latvian railway company Pasažieru vilciens declared Czech Škoda Vagonka the winner, as confirmed by the company.

Austria’s right-wing ministers resign after early election expected

With the Austrian government hit by a political crisis that is expected to result in an early election, the government Freedom Party has announced all its ministers would step down from the Cabinet.

30% of companies have yet to successfully adopt GDPR guidelines

A year after the European Union adopted the General Data Protection Regulation only 25.1% of Latvian companies can confidently confirm having adopted the regulation without problems, according to a survey by Tildes Jumis.

Russia’s request on Ukraine’s language law rejected by UN council

At the UN Security Council, a request by Russia to hold a meeting over a law passed by Ukraine limiting the role of the Russian language in the war-torn country has been rejected over alleged attempts to overshadow the inauguration of Ukraine’s new President.

Latvian government to tackle teacher shortage problem

It is possible that a new approach for attracting teachers to schools may be implemented in Latvia next year. This approach provides that a person with higher education who wants to become a teacher will require a year to acquire pedagogical qualification.

Huawei: Users after Android ban to keep getting security updates

Chinese electronics and telecommunications heavyweight Huawei has given its first response to the suspension of its Android operating system by promising that its smartphone and tablet users would continue to receive security updates.

Administration of a school in Jurmala suspected of defrauding EUR 100 000

Latvian State Police has detained administration of some school in Jurmala over suspicions of fictive employment. Defrauded amount may reach approximately EUR 100 000, as confirmed by State Police.

Raising minimal income level in Latvia would require EUR 28 million

Latvia’s Welfare Ministry has developed a Plan to improve minimal income support system in 2020-2021. In it, the ministry details that the plan’s implementation requires approximately EUR 28 million, as informed by the ministry’s social inclusivity department’s director Elīna Celmiņa.

Estonia investigates electricity blackout in Russian border city

In Estonia, an investigation has been opened into a power blackout that took place in the north-eastern border city of Narva and other places in the region.

Latvia’s Saeima to pick a new state president after EP elections

Saeima’s Praesidium and Faction Council decided on 20 May to keep the State President’s Election Day unchanged – it will happen 29 May.

Study: packaging convenience still trumps environment friendliness

For Latvian residents convenience of packages remains the most important factor. However, environment friendliness is gradually becoming more and more important for people, according to results of a study by Immer Group.