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Tuesday 19.03.2019 | Name days: Jāzeps
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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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Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.

Air temperature in Latvia to stay positive this week; more precipitation expected

Weather will be dominated by cyclone activity this week. Wind speed will also increase in the country’s western parts in the first half of the week. At the end of the week, air temperature to become chilly at night, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. N-plant invites bids for repository construction contract

Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which was shut down a decade ago and is now being decommissioned, invited bids for the construction of a 100-million-euro near surface repository for low and intermediate level short-lived radioactive waste.

BNN summary of the week: when is Brexit? Estonia’s government worries; more problems with Rīgas satiksme

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Attempt; Decision; Investigation; Scandal; Legislation; Expectation.

Suspect in criminal case leaves post in Alkom-Trans

SIA Alkom-Trans chairman Aleksandrs Krjačeks, who is a suspect in a criminal case regarding SIA Rīgas satiksme’s procurements, has decided to step down, according to information from Lursoft.

Eurostat: Latvia had higher annual inflation than average in EU and Eurozone

In February 2019, Latvia’s inflation was higher than the average in European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat on Friday, 15 March.

Harmony and New Harmony to compete for seats in European Parliament

Association of parties Alternative Party, which received only 0.34% support from voters in the recent Saeima elections, has decided to start in upcoming European Parliament elections with a new name – New Harmony, as reported by Latvijas Radio.

ABLV Bank’s liquidators recover assets worth EUR 37.938 million in February

In February 2019, liquidators of ABLV Bank had successfully recovered assets worth EUR 37.938 million, which is 21% less than a month prior, according to the annual account published in Latvian Herald.

Polish Catholic church reveals mass child sex abuse by clergy

The administration of the Polish Catholic Church has stated it has since 1990 registered child sex abuse affecting 625 underage victims by 382 clergymen. Poland's Catholic Church authorities revealed the data on Thursday, March 14.

Insurer: children receive 11% more injuries during school breaks

During school breaks the frequency at which children receive injuries is 11% higher when compared to the year’s average, according to data from BTA Baltic Insurance Company.

Survey: one-fifth of Latvian residents do not protect their data on mobile phones

Although modern smartphones have several security options that help protect user data, results of a survey by Samsung Electronics Baltics show that 19% of Latvian residents do not use any of those data protection options.

Estonia's Ratas rejects Verhofstadt's opinion on coalition with anti-migrant party

Belgian member of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, has urged acting Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas not to build a government coalition with the anti-migrant Conservative People's Party of Estonia.

Opinion: Baltic residents have cooled down towards Russian-Ukrainian conflict

Ever since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula five years ago it seems a ‘cooling process’ has begun among residents of Baltic States in relation to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, said University of Latvia researcher Mārtiņš Kaprāns in an interview to LNT programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 15 March.

New Zealand shaken by tragic terror attacks in mosques

40 people have lost their lives in New Zealand, where terror attacks have been committed in two mosques in the city Christchurch today, according to the country's government. The tragic events have taken place on Friday, March 15.

Minister: EC should not be allowed to cut financing to countries with low court independence

From the perspective of the European Union’s legislation and democracy, European Commission should not be given rights to halt funding only because EC thinks the rule of law is insufficient in some country, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

EU's Tusk to call for long delay of Brexit

European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will invited to EU leaders «to be open to a long extension» of the Brexit deadline, if the UK needs to rethink its strategy and get consensus after it decided to ask for a delay.

Weather to remain rainy in Latvia; air temperature expected above 0° C

At the end of the week, a cyclone will approach Latvia from Scandinavia’s side, which will bring rain and wet snow to many parts of Latvia, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian Saeima votes to make mental healthcare more accessible

In the near future, it is planned to significantly improve accessibility of mental healthcare in Latvia. The goal is to provide residents with evidence-based, modern, quality mental healthcare. This is provided by the Plan to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for 2019-2020 approved announced at the State Secretaries meeting of Thursday, 14 March, as confirmed by Healthcare Ministry’s representative Anna Strapcāne.