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Wednesday 19.06.2019 | Name days: Nils, Viktors
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BNN summary of the week: festivities in Latvia; free bus trips in Estonia; double-citizenship resolution in Lithuania

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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; Direction; Suspicion; Decline; Fight; Growth; Festivities.

CHANGE: Seimas paves way for dual citizenship, Constitutional Court hurdle ahead

The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has lowered the threshold for the adoption of constitutional amendments on a dual citizenship referendum.

In a vote this week, 67 legislators voted for the amendments to the Referendum Law, three were against and 16 abstained the amendments remove the requirement for more than half of all Lithuanian citizens entitled to vote to say «yes» in a referendum to amend Article 12 of Chapter 1 of the Constitution defining citizenship.

The same requirement will apply to all binding referendums, i.e. a proposal would be deemed as approved if more than half of voters who turned out, but at least one-third of all citizens with the right to vote, voted in favour.

The only exception that would remain in place would be the requirement for least three-fourths of all citizens with the right to vote to say «yes» to amending Article 1 of the Constitution that reads, «The State of Lithuania shall be an independent democratic republic».

Full article here

DIRECTION: Work group to discuss further increase of wages for doctors in Latvia

On Thursday, 5 July, Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry will be holding a meeting of a work group at 15:00. During this meeting, members of the work group will discuss wage rise for doctors, as confirmed by Latvian Health and Social Care Union chairman Valdis Keris.

LSVADA had previously asked Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša to form a work group to discuss the matter regarding wage rise.

Keris voiced this proposal to Saeima’s Public Health Sub-committee a month ago, adding that this year’s wage increase was the first step to ensure adequate pay for doctors. The goal, however, is reaching the previously promised wage size that would be equal to two average wages in the country.

Full article here

SUSPICION: Corruption watchdog suspected of leaking information about businessman Martinsons’ associates

It is entirely possible that information regarding businessman Māris Martinsons’ associates had been leaked from Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, impeding the investigation of the ‘builders’ case’ and the case launched against Bank of Latvia governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, as reported by Diena.

The newspaper reports that two CPCB operatives Jānis Miķelsons and Modris Briška are well-acquainted with the accountant featured in Martinsons’ case – Anta Dišereite. Diena has published a photo that depicts the three people together on vacation. Miķelsons is in civil marriage with Dišeraite. Diena allows that those ties were used for the information leak.

According to unofficial information, the wiretapping that helped gather evidence in the case against Rimšēvičs and Martinsons took place at Taureņi bathhouse outside of Riga’s borders in Babīte direction. «There the suspects held regular secret meetings with politicians representing Riga City Council’s ruling powers and opposition parties».

Diena allows that Rimšēvičs and Martinsons were not arrested several years ago because the two operatives involved in the case – Miķelsons and Briška – were acquainted with Dišereite, who is involved in another criminal case launched against Martinsons. Similar to him, Dišereite was made a suspect in the so-called ‘builders case’. As part of its investigation, Finance Police had performed a search in July 2014 and had detained a person suspected of tax fraud and money laundering. According to Diena, results of this investigation may have been better, had there been no information leak.

Full article here

DECLINE: SRS found violations at 94% of inspected trade locations

State Revenue Service performed preventive inspections around Latvia in June. A total of 821 traders were checked. Violations were noted in 94% of cases, as reported by the service.

Inspections were performed to study the actual situation and consult traders.

SRS notes that only some of the inspected trade locations used cash registers and cash systems that fit technical requirements. In 754 cases inspected cash register systems were not compliant with new requirements.

Full article here

FIGHT: Prosecutor issues warning to Riga City Council and Rīgas satiksme officials

On 21 June, the prosecutor of the specialized prosecutor’s office for organized crime and other sectors issued a warning to officials of Riga City Council and Rīgas satiksme in regards to nano-water procurement projects, as confirmed by Prosecutor General’s Office public relations specialist Una Rēķe.

She reports that the prosecutor’s office is currently working on a criminal process associated with fraud and laundering of finances acquired through fraud realized in procurements of nano-technological chemicals.

The prosecutor’s office adds that as part of this criminal process, investigators have assessed actions of members of the organized group in question and officials of Rīgas satiksme – members of the procurement commission – and their actions in procurement procedures.

Full article here

GROWTH: Bus trips free for locals in most part of Estonia

As Estonia expands its free bus scheme for local population, in 11 of the 15 counties of the northern Baltic country, bus rides are free of charge to local residents.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Monday, July 2, that the scheme was put in place on Sunday and to use it each passenger claiming their right to free transport needs to either validate their trip using their travel card and a card reader on the bus, or then get a free ticket from the bus driver.

Public buses, but not inter-county coaches, are now free to use to all county residents in Valga, Võru, Viljandi, Lääne, Põlva, Järva, Jõgeva, Tartu, Ida-Viru, Hiiu and Saare County.

Full article here

FESTIVITIES: XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration week

XXVI Song and XVI Dance Celebration week has reached its mid-point – in four days there have been nearly 30 events that were widely attended. So far Song and Dance Celebration has been attended by approximately 120,000 people. All participants of the celebration have arrived in Riga. Soon the culmination of the celebration will take place in Latvia’s capital – Great Band Concert, Mara’s Country large-scale performance, the final concert Following the Starry Path and Sing Along Night, says XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration public relations specialist Inga Vasiļjeva.

Full article here


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Nordea bank searched in Denmark over money laundering allegations

The Danish offices of the Scandinavian Nordea Bank have been searched by police as a probe in alleged money laundering is being conducted, Bloomberg reports.

Fire Service: Violations in new Ventspils music school prevented

In the newly-built Ventspils Musical High School and concert hall Latvija, which had problems with fire safety, the Latvian State and Fire Rescue Service has found in a repeated inspection that the violations have been fixed.

UN: 2.2 billion people globally still lack safe drinking water

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation has found in study that 1 in 3 people or 2.2 billion people around the world lack safely-managed drinking water, while 673 million people practice open defecation.

Key owner of pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm changes board member over distrust

In Olmafarm, the largest owner of the Latvian pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm, changes in the management board have taken place over no-confidence, according to a decision of the majority of the co-heirs of Olmafarm seen by LETA news agency.

Lithuanian experts: No way of stopping coming nuclear power plant of Belarus

Options that could stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Belarus have been exhausted, experts in neighbouring Lithuania have said to its public media.

Latvia pushing for joint stance of Baltic-Nordic MPs on security policy

Ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, it is key for the legislators of the eight Baltic-Nordic states to have a common position on security policy, said MP Inese Ikstena, head of the Latvian delegation.

Latvian coalition undertakes to rise teacher salaries over reform

Recognising that education reforms in Latvia have been initiated, the ruling coalition has pledged to pass the decision to allocate funds to rising teacher salaries, as indicated by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Kariņš stated that the coalition parties have established that «reforms envisaged by Minister of Education Ilga Šupilinska have been initiated».

Latvian Enterprise Register: Companies not revealing true beneficiaries to be wound up

Once changes to the Latvian Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing are signed by State President, the Enterprise Register will be tasked with winding up legal entities not revealing their true beneficiaries.

Latvian PM: If Estonia breaks deal on alcohol excise, we’re forced to respond

If Estonia has broken a deal with Latvia on alcohol excise tax, then Latvia is left to no choice, but to respond with a corresponding cut in excise, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

Never too late to marry – elderly marriages jump in Latvia

Over the year 2018 in Latvia, the total number of marriages fell by 0.7 %, the number of marriages concluded by elderly population grew 1.7 times, data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia showed.

Eesti Energia suggests introducing customs tax to cheap Russian power

Estonian state energy firm Eesti Energia has proposed introducing a customs tax to electricity imported by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from Russia.

Social care centre in Latvia blamed for severe human rights violations

Latvian Ombudsman’s Office has found severe human rights violations in the social care centre Ezerkrasti and accused the institution of not complying with recommendations to it. Ezerkrasti is a branch of the state social care centre Riga, located outside the Latvian capital.

Unmarried couples’ law to be proposed in Latvia

In the Latvian Saeima, this week, a draft Law on Unmarried couples would be proposed by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par!.

Glass fibre maker Valmieras stikla šķiedra files for legal protection

Latvia-based glass fibre maker AS Valmieras stikla šķiedra has on Monday, June 17, announced filing for the start of legal protection proceedings aimed at ensuring sustainable continuation of group level operations.

Summer solstice week to be warm-to-hot in Latvia

As Latvia readies for the traditional summer solstice and Līgo festivities in the weekend, meteorologists expect the beginning of the week to be warm and sunny, whereas in the second half of the week, temperatures could rise and rain could set in.

Trees worth two hundred thousand euros disappear in Latvian border works

Developing the Latvia-Russia border, in eastern Latvia, a protected natural territory has been destroyed and timber worth over two hundred thousand euros has disappeared, reported Nekā Personīga programme of TV3 channel.

Latvian MPs request Supreme Court to evaluate Prosecutor General Kalnmeiers

Latvian legislators have asked the Latvian Supreme Court to evaluate consistency of the work of Prosecutor Ēriks Kalnmeiers with his post over inactivity in money laundering prevention and other shortcomings.

Gynaecologists in Germany fined advertising abortions

A court in Berlin has found two gynaecologists guilty of advertising how they carry out abortions in their clinic, fining them two thousand euros each. A pair of anti-abortion campaigners had reported the gynaecologists' website ad to German prosecutors.

Week in Lithuania: MP Gražulis in hot water, heat-related water supply disruptions in Kaunas

Last week, Lithuania marked the Day of Mourning and Hope, outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite delivered her last annual address, president-elect Gitanas Nausėda spoke out against taxing owners of old polluting car, but MP Petras Gražulis suspected of bribery.

BNN summary of the week: Waiting for new Culture Minister; Misleading by Supreme Court chair; bank watchdog overhaul

In the past week in Latvia, changes were announced in the Financial and Capital Market Commission, which will have new a management and duties. A substitute has been proposed for Dace Melbārde as the Latvian Culture Minister after her election to the European Parliament. The conservatives have picked Nauris Puntulis, an opera singer and current Riga City councillor, for the post. The candidate gave an interview to BNN on his priorities in the post.

IN PICTURES: Victims of Communist genocide remembered in Latvia

At the Freedom Monument in Latvia on Friday, June 14, there was held a ceremony to honour the victims of the Communist genocide against the people of Latvia. The mass arrests of innocent people were committed on the night from June 13 to 14.

Moscow sees U.S. decision of another thousand troops to Poland as sensitive

The Russian government stated the Russian army was closely tracking U.S. plans to send an additional thousand of its troops Poland as a deputy minister criticised the move as probably «aggressive».

Europol: Risks of Russian money laundering still exist in Baltics

In the Baltic states, there still exist risks for the laundering of money from Russia, said official from European police agency Europol, Pedro Felicio, who works on anti-money laundering measures in the body. He added that the problem is amplified by «zero cooperation from the side of Russia».

Data: 47.3% Latvian restaurants had tax debt over last six months

47.3% of Latvian restaurants and cafes had a tax debt exceeding 150 euros in the past six months, yet the total taxes paid by the sector have surged by 19.87% on year, data by business database Lursoft showed.

Latvian parliament in no rush to discuss Jewish restitution payment of EUR 40 mln

The Latvian Saeima has postponed the discussion of a draft law to compensate the Latvian Jewish community in the amount of 40 million euros for property confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.