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Tuesday 16.07.2019 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere
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BNN summary of the week: end’s beginning; management in a bus; happy Latvians

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe first week of April brought comical and sad events for Latvia. Riga’s Mayor Nils Ušakovs, for example, has no reason to laugh – Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce has announced the mayor’s dismissal. Yes, dismissal of Riga’s mayor was discussed for a long time by the current and previous government in Latvia.

Another long process was finally finished this week – Latvia’s government approved the country’s 2019 state budget.

On 1 April, Latvia’s pharmaceutical company Olainfarm elected a new board, presumably in a bus outside the company gates. The next day, Latvia’s Enterprise Register recognized this decision as legal. Shortly after, Nasdaq Riga started trading company shares.

Meanwhile, storm clouds are gradually gathering over the heads of LTV Einārs Giels and members of the National Electronic Mass Media Council – politicians and industry experts doubt the rationale behind approval of the new board of LTV. Will Giels’ dream for the future of television remain a dream?

NATO, meanwhile, celebrated its 70th birthday, while researchers decided to study how happy Latvian residents are.

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: End’s Beginning; Confusion; Bus Board; Long Wait Over; Sailor to Spy; Happy Latvians; President Steps In.

END’s BEGINNING: Latvia’s environment minister dismisses Riga’s mayor

On Friday, 5 April, Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce dismissed Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs, according to information published in Latvian Herald.

Ušakovs is accused of not fulfilling his duties as shareholder in public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme, violation of regulations, as well as non-compliance with his duties as chairman of Riga City Council and violation of multiple regulations while in this post.

While his work was being evaluated, Ušakovs told journalists that Pūce’s request for explanations from him was weak and heavily politicized.

Full article here

CONFUSION: Latvian National Media Council’s inability to justify Giels’ approval is a reason to worry

The lack of arguments from the National Electronic Mass Media and LTV board chairman Einārs Giels’ lack of experience working in the media sector, which can be surmised from his public statements, are incredibly worrying signals that the decision was not made in the interest of the future development of national television company, says LTV board member Ivars Priede.

On 3 April, National Electronic Mass Media Council chairperson Dace Ķezbere met with LTV senior and middle management and editors. Priede says during the conversation she was not able to put to rest doubts about Giels.

Workers said after looking through Giels’ CV, they found no mention of professional qualifications the media council requested from candidates in the personnel selection process. When told about this, the head of the national media council said: «You speaking just like Unity right now».

Priede believes communication of this kind and «mention of political sympathies in a time when the second most important decision made by the media council is not explained appropriately to neither LTV workers or society, does not  contribute to mutual trust».

During the discussion Ķezbere tried convincing LTV workers that this would be the best possible option and asked fiving Giels 100 days to work and then evaluate the quality of his work.

Full article here

BUS BOARD: Storm’s over? Olainfarm shares return to Nasdaq Riga trading

On Thursday, 4 April, Nasdaq Riga board decided to start trading Latvian pharmaceutical company Olainfarm shares, as confirmed in the stock market’s announcement.

The monitoring status applied to the company on 29 March has been called off, too.

The stock market notes that following the decisions made at the 1 April extraordinary meeting of shareholders, conditions that caused the halt on trading of the company’s shares and monitoring status are no longer topical.

On 1 April, Latvia’s Enterprise Register decided to register changes to Olainfarm board and council composition.

Olainfam council is currently led by economist Gundars Bērziņš. Council members include Jānis Buks, Kārlis Krastiņš, Andrejs Saveļjevs and Haralds Velmers. This council was composed by Olainfarm shareholders owning 61.5% during a meeting in a shuttle bus that was parked outside the entrance to the main building on Monday, 1 April.

Full article here

LONG WAIT OVER: Latvia’s Saeima approves 2019 budget and rejects all proposals from opposition

On Wednesday, 3 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved the country’s budget for 2019 and denied all proposals submitted to the budget law by members of the opposition.

59 members of the Saeima voted in favour of the budget and 34 voted against. The budget received support from deputies of the coalition. The opposition, including KPV LV party’s internal opposition members Linda Liepiņa, Karina Sprūde and Didzis Šmits, voted against the budget law. Janīna Jalinska from the Union of Greens and Farmers did not participate in the vote.

The discussions regarding the budget and fourteen associated legislative drafts lasted the whole day – Saeima meeting lasted for ten hours with breaks.

In his speech to the Saeima, Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said this is a technical budget that was largely compiled by the previous government. He thanked Saeima deputies for their work, stressing how they care about the country’s development – opposition and coalition alike.

On Thursday, 4 March, politicians will start working on the 2020 budget draft. Already there are many desires. However, the budget’s ability to satisfy all of them is limited. Kariņš urged Saeima deputies to think in a longer term perspective because development is a gradual process. This is why politicians should put the correct foundation to assist with development and residents’ welfare, said the prime minister.

Politicians of Latvia’s ruling coalition had previously said that this would be a technical budget, stressing that because of this reason requests for additional funding would be rejected.

Full article here

SAILOR TO SPY: Lithuania sentences man for spying for Russia

A court in Lithuania has punished a sailor to seven years’ imprisonment for spying in favour of Russia.

American state-funded Radio Free Europe reports that the Klaipeda court on Wednesday, April 3, announced the Lithuanian citizen gave Russian intelligence classified information about the city’s sea terminal and other infrastructure in 2015-17.

The man was identified in Lithuanian media as sailor mechanic Romanas Šešelis.

Full article here

HAPPY LATVIANS: Latvian residents have never been happier than now

The happiness index for Latvian residents has reached its record high value this year, according to results of a survey by SKDS agency.

In January 2019, residents were asked if they feel happy. The happiness index was calculated based on answers with four levels of satisfaction – happy, more likely happy, more likely unhappy, and unhappy.

The value of each provided answer was summed up and later compiled into a list.

The happiness index varies from -100 to +100.

January’s recorded happiness index reached a value of +41.9, which is the highest value of the index in history. Over the course of the year the index grew 2.2 points.

Full article here

PRESIDENT STEPS IN: Estonian President nominates Reform Party, not active Centre to form government

Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid has on Friday nominated Kaja Kallas, the chairwoman of the election-winning Reform Party, to try an form the next government. This could prove difficult as three other parties have been in unofficial coalition talks for some time now.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that President Kaljulaid explained in a press release on Friday, April 5, that the leader of the party who won the most mandates in the 3 March general election has to have the opportunity to try and form a government, and to say what she would stand for as prime minister and what her vision is for Estonia’s future.

Full article here


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Latvia’s Taxi Drivers Register has around 6 000 drivers; 114 have been excluded from it

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President: Latvianness is intended for everyone

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Fifth break announced in trial of Jelgava Hospital bribery case

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Latvia’s industrial output growth reportedly the most rapid among Baltics

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Bribery accused National Alliance member leaves party but stays in Riga City Council

Suspended vice-rector in University of Latvia Baiba Broka has decided to temporarily cease working in the National Alliance «All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK». At the same time, however, she has no plans to step down from her post in Riga City Council.

Gitanas Nausėda officially becomes President of Lithuania

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Latvia’s Education Ministry spots problems with LU rector’s election process

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