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Wednesday 21.11.2018 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte
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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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Old Latvian government leaves new one budget plan accepted by EC

European Commission has coordinated Latvia’s 2019 budget plan, adding that it generally fits requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact. However, the old government in Latvia is not able to push it forward. This is why it has been decided to wait for the formation of a new government in Latvia to resolve problems.

War in Yemen has lead to 85 000 children deaths from hunger, charity says

An estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have starved to death as a result of Yemen’s civil war, a report from Save the Children has found, as the charity urged an immediate ceasefire to prevent more loss of life.

Police raise charges against Jurmala mayor for possible illegal financing of UGF

In the criminal case regarding possible illegal financing of the Union of Greens and Farmers, Latvia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has officially presented charges to Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis and businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš.

Latvian ministry to search for a way to reduce antibiotics consumption

«According to antibacterial medicines consumption data, consumption of antibiotics for treatment of humans in Latvia is one of the lowest in the European Union. It is important to maintain this level or ensure its reduction. At the same time, it is also important to ensure accessibility of quality healthcare services for Latvian residents,» Healthcare Ministry reports.

Saeima continues electing heads of committees; Jurašs to be responsible for security

Election of chairpersons, deputy chairpersons and secretaries of Saeima committees continue. On 21 November Saeima deputies divided posts in ten committees. There are six more left.

Estonia ranks second in lethal drug overdoses among wealthy nations

Out of 13 well-off nations, Estonia ranks second after the U.S. in the proportion of male deaths from drug overdose, the U.S. National Cancer Institute has found, Estonian World blog wrote.

SFRS: five years after Zolitude tragedy people seems to have relaxed about security precautions

Although Zolitude Tragedy came as a lesson for many people to be more responsible with security requirements, in the last five years people have become relaxed again when it comes to safety matters, said deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Kristaps Eklons in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Five years pass since the Zolitude Tragedy in Latvia

The court investigation of Zolitude tragedy’s criminal case is progressing, according to the state prosecution. Wednesday, 21 November, marked five years since the tragedy, when the roof of a Maxima supermarket collapsed, killing 54 people and injuring several dozen.

Estonian Interior Minister Anvelt steps down

Estonian Interior Minister Andres Anvelt has announced his resignation from office as the social democrat plans to leave politics altogether.

Study: Europe and China invest the most in innovations

Compared to other territories in the world, Europe’s and China’s expenses on research and development have increased the most, with investments reaching USD 782 billion. The largest amount of money is spent on consumer industry, according to Innovation 1000 study performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Strategy&.

Afghanistan suicide terrorist causes tragic explosion

In Afghanistan, a large gathering of Islamic scholars has been hit by a tragic terror attack as not less than 50 people have been killed.

EU-UK future ties declaration held back by issues of fisheries, Gibraltar, trade

As the European Union and the UK are now negotiating principles of their future relationship, British Prime Minister Theresa May is taking part in talks in Brussels on Wednesday to try solve disagreements regarding Gibraltar, fisheries and trade.

Bribery accused ex-Riga City Council official detained in Egypt

Law enforcement authorities in Egypt have detained bribery accused former Riga City Council official Ārija Stabiņa, as confirmed by Panorāma programe of LTV.

Police admit November 11 Embankment is not the best place for mass events

Security-wise, 11 November Embankment is not the best place for mass events. Nevertheless, responsible authorities plan to analyse in the near future ways to improve security measures in this portion of Riga, as reported by Criminal Police Chief Artis Velšs.

LMIB: CCLI price should not increase in Latvia in the near future

The price of Compulsory Civil Liability Insurance is not expected to increase in the near future, said board member of Latvian Motor Insurers' Bureau Juris Stengrevics in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Competition Council permits Energia Verde to change owners

Latvian Competition Council has permitted the agreement in which Estonia-based private capital investment fund Usaldusfond BaltCap Infrastructure Fund gains decisive influence over SIA Energia Verde by acquiring 70% of its shares from AS Energoeco, BNN was informed by the council.

Latvian corruption watchdog commenced five cases on crimes in healthcare in past five years

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has sent five criminal cases associated with corruption violations in healthcare to the prosecutor’s office in the fast five years.

Saeima approves deputies for work in parliamentary committees

Latvia’s Saeima has approved deputies who will work in the parliament’s standing committees in the next four years. 92 deputies participated in the vote; no one voted against or abstained in the vote.

NATO appreciates Lithuania's defence spending as showing example

Lithuania's significant increase in defence spending has been praised by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as an example this week.

Ieva Jaunzeme becomes candidate to lead Latvia’s State Revenue Service

The personnel selection process organized to pick the new head of Latvia’s State Revenue Service has concluded. Ieva Jaunzeme has been named the winner, as confirmed by State Chancellery.

Ilves urges to celebrate things uniting Latvia and Estonia on centenary

The ex-President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, has congratulated Latvia on the 100th anniversary of its statehood and urged to look back at the historical ups and downs experienced by Estonians and Latvians since the Middle Ages that have united the two peoples.

Opinion: government formation can be described with two words – haste and ambitions

The current government formation process in Latvia can be described with two words – haste and ambitions, says ex-prime minister Valdis Birkavs.

Russia to perform OSCE Armament Control Inspection in Latvia

Over the course from 20th to 23rd November, officers of Russian armed forces will be performing Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe armament control inspection in Latvia, as confirmed by Defence Ministry.

Bishops in Poland issue apology for sex abuse against children by clergy

Catholic bishops in Poland have asked for forgiveness to child victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and other Church workers in the mainly Catholic nation.

Week’s beginning to be chilly in Latvia – air temperature at night to drop below 0° C

Weather in Latvia will remain cold at the beginning of the week. Some areas may also experience precipitation in the form of wet snow and snow. It will become warmer closer to the middle of the week. However, colder masses of air will enter the country again at the end of the week, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

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