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Ceturtdiena 21.02.2019 | Name days: Eleonora, Ariadne
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BNN summary of the week: creative government formation; bigger fees at Ventspils Freeport; municipal nihilism

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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: Government; Concerns; Responsibility; Mechanism; Justice.

GOVERNMENT: Latvian parties refrain from predicting success for Gobzems government

Politicians participating in government formation talks organized by KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems refrain from saying if the government composition proposed by the party is realistic.

No real progress has been reached in talks yet. Because of that, the possible composition of and which parties might support Gobzems’ government is unknown.

Prime minister candidate Gobzems is poetical about the progress made in government formation talks, saying that government formation is a creative process. Gobzems said the question as to which parties could potentially support his government was not topical at the 29 November meeting. Politicians will reach this matter once relevant documents have been signed. Nevertheless, it is too soon to discuss it.

«It’s like dating – you don’t force your potential groom or bride to marry you,» said Gobzems.

With the parliament as fractured as it is, one important task is making sure the government does not end in conflicting situations, said Gobzems. While during the pre-election period parties were in a state of unannounced war, now they have to sit at the same table as potential partners, added the candidate.

There are many facts unclear about the government formation process and parties’ cooperation in the forming coalition, Attīstībai/Par! co-chairman Daniels Pavļuts told journalists. He said there is a clear attempt to avoid using «coalition council» words even though the Saeima has more parties that usual. Because of that, proper coordination is needed more than ever.

Full article here

CONCERNS: Ventspils Freeport’s decision to raise fees will not bring in more cargoes

The decision of Ventspils Freeport authority to raise fees for port services starting with 1 January 2019 will not bring in more cargoes to Ventspils, says Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics.

The company has performed a calculation of costs at tree port companies. Provisional results alone show that clients of those companies will have to pay more than EUR 800,000 on top of what they already pay every year.

Another increase of costs will not in any way benefit Ventspils port’s competitiveness. To improve cooperation, information objectivity and efficiency of decisions, BATL plans to ask the government to change municipal governance model to ensure that aside from state and municipal representatives people representing port companies are also included in institutions governing port activities, experts say.

BATL notes that a look at last year’s cargo handling results in four port companies – AS Ventspils Commercial Port, AS Ventbunkers, AS Baltic Coal Terminal and AS Ventspils Naftas terminals – reveals that increased fees will be rather impactful for their clients. For example, clients’ increased expenses could reach EUR 800,000, which depends on the type of service and its size.

Full article here

RESPONSIBILITY: Home free? Corruption watchdog does not apply penalty in possible information leak case

In conclusion of the service inspection regarding the possible information leak in the criminal case involving former Saeima deputy Askolds Kļaviņš, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has not punished a single official. The report from the inspection was instead forwarded to Security Police.

A special investigative committee was formed to address this specific case. The committee concluded its work on 31 October, when the chief of CPCB was presented with the report. In accordance with established rules, the report was sent for evaluation to Security Police and Constitution Protection Bureau.

Because the committee’s report contains classified information, CPCB is unable to provide more detailed information on this matter. CPCB has confirmed, however, that not a single CPCB officer was penalized as a result of the internal investigation.

Security Police internal investigation committee’s report has yet to be received.

Full article here

MECHANISM: Opposition deputy says a new mechanism is created to reduce legal nihilism in municipalities

«A new mechanism has been created to help reduce the legal nihilism in municipalities – disrespecting the rights of minority deputies,» BNN was told by Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, commenting on the verdict of the Supreme Court’s Department of Administrative Cases.

During a meeting of the Supreme Court’s Department of Administrative Cases, judges decided to overturn the ruling of the Administrative District Court. This ruling had previously rejected Kristovskis’ application in which he requested the court to order Ventspils City Council to provide the information he had previously requested, as well as declare the restriction of information provision to minority deputies on the city council’s official website as illegal.

With this decision, the Supreme Court stepped back from its case-law decisions made 12 April 2013 and 27 May 2016 – the practice of having cases regarding information requests from municipal council deputies reviewed as part of administrative processes. Now the court has declared that in accordance with democratic principles and Section 2 of the Administrative Process Law violations of rights of deputies are to be viewed by administrative courts.

«This offers greater justice and fairness in public administration and municipal administration»

Kristovskis told ventspilnieks.lv that ‘the Supreme Court’s ruling gives new impulses in the fight against authoritarianism and other democracy-distorting activities in Ventspils’. He also believes this opens a new page for Latvia’s court justice system, because it creates a mechanism with which deputies will be able to defend their subjective rights in court.

Full article here

JUSTICE: mild punishment for ex-deputy Kļaviņš was applied illegally

The prosecutor’s decision on the application of penalty of 120 hours of community service for the now ex-Saeima deputy Askolds Kļaviņš was made with multiple breaches of the law, as concluded by senior prosecutor Modris Madlers in the case regarding Kļaviņš’s illegally received fuel compensations from the Saeima worth nearly EUR 10,000.

However, this happened too late: prosecutor Arvis Miglāns’ opinion on the appropriate penalty has already been handed for execution – it is not subject for appeal. This means Kļaviņš will not receive a stricter penalty, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.

Compensation worth EUR 10,000 was received by the ex-deputy thanks to forged documents. After getting caught, he pays back the illegally acquired money, but nothing more. He also worked his community service hours within three weeks. This was the outcome of the criminal case revolving around Askolds Kļaviņš, as reported by lsm.lv.

Saeima’s discredited work, ruined respect for deputies, and general distrust towards the government, as well as damages worth EUR 10,000 for the parliament’s budget. Such were the consequences of what Kļaviņš had done, said prosecutor Arvis Miglāns.

Kļaviņš has fully admitted his guilt. He regrets what he has done, according to materials of the case.

Full article here


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Risky projects that are «under watch» in Latvia: electrification, Krievu Island and Rīgas tramvajs

«Latvia’s biggest mistake getting its hands on finances to afford EU projects is that these projects are more often than not organizes specifically to use said finances, and no though is put into work on achieving results or even if results of said projects could even turn out positive for the country in the end. We see this with railway electrification, Krievu Island and Rīgas tramvajs project,» said Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in an interview to BNN.

Putin warns U.S., Russia could target Washington with missiles

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In spite of austerity measures, Rīgas satiksme’s grants could reach EUR 134 million

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Cemex announces sale of its Baltic and Nordic assets

Cemex has made the decision to sell assets in Baltic and Nordic countries worth EUR 340 million to Germany company Schwen, as confirmed by Cemex representatives.

Swedbank refrains from commenting information about its possible involvement in money laundering

Citing confidentiality, AS Swedbank has decided to refrain from commenting on information reported by Swedish television regarding the bank’s involvement in money laundering, said the bank’s Risk Management Office in Latvia Juris Bogdanovs.

UK's May to give another try in Brussels, as EU doesn't expect breakthrough

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, returns to Brussels on Wednesday, seeking to convince European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to save her Brexit deal. A representative of the British PM for May called the Brussels trip «significant» as part of a process of engagement to try to agree on the changes her government believes parliament needs to pass the deal.

Dutch soldiers in Lithuania go ice diving as part of NATO winter training

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Brussels: Hungary lying about Juncker, Soros and mandatory migrants

Hungarian government has been criticised by European Commission officials for putting up election campaign posters with claims that EU headquarters has weakened on purpose European Union's external borders to allow in more migrants.

airBaltic to cease using Boeing 737 in autumn 2019

Latvian national airBaltic airline plans to cease using Boeing 737 in autumn 2019 or a year earlier than initially planned, as confirmed by the airline’s representative Alise Briede.

Prime Minister: Latvian teachers are hostages of municipalities

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Minister: Latvia needs a new housing policy

Latvia needs a new housing policy, says Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro. He says most of Latvia’s residential houses were built during the Soviet regime. This is why a number of subjects related to the housing policy have become topical.

Levits: the state president must not serve as executor to any party

«The state president must not serve as executor to only one party,» believes Judge Egils Levits of the Court of Justice of the EU, adding that it is because of this reason it is so hard to find a president that would meet the requirements of all political parties. ‘The president needs to have sufficient metal capacity and authority to convince politicians about common state interests,» said the only presidential candidate to have had been publicly discussed by the ruling coalition in Latvia so far.

Danske Bank to quit Baltic states, Russia, after asked to leave by Estonia

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Minister: Latvia is dissatisfied with reduced EU funding for agriculture

«Funding reductions for the General Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy are unacceptable for Latvia. In accordance with European Commission’s proposal, Latvian farmers will have reached 77% of the average direct payment level in the EU by 2026. Latvia is also dissatisfied with funding reduction for rural development,» said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs during the 19 February meeting of the EU General Affairs Council.

UN: 200 families encircled by Islamic State fighters in Syria

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Saeima committee: adoption of deposit system is an investment in cleaner environment

Adoption of a package deposit system is an opportunity to invest in a cleaner environment, said members of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee and Environment and Climate Sub-Committee on Tuesday, 19 February.

Lursoft: nearly 32,000 Latvian companies have disclosed true beneficiaries

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Lasting drought caused the lowest yield of cereals in recent years in Latvia

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Criminals in Latvia planned to kidnap a bailiff and kill him after receiving ransom

According to what Latvian State Police reported during a press conference on 19 February, criminals in Latvia planned to kidnap some court bailiff, demand ransom of EUR 350,000 and kill him after receiving the ransom.

Russian warplanes intercepted four times near Baltic borders last week

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Estonian ex-Eurocrat convicted of rape in Brussels

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BTA: number of insurance claims up by more than a quarter

The number of insurance claims in Latvia at the beginning of 2019 has increased 28.4% when compared to the same month of 2018, and by 55.3% when compared to January of 2017, as reported by BTA Baltic Insurance Company representative Elīna Rasmane.

Latvia’s budget has received at least EUR 1.5 million paid in bail money in past five years

In the last five years, Latvia’s state budget has received EUR 1,535,000 in the form of bail money paid in different criminal cases, according to information from the Court Administration.

16 U.S. states oppose Trump's border wall emergency in court

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Minister: we need to reject the two basket healthcare system’s funding model

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