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Ceturtdiena 19.07.2018 | Name days: Jautrīte, Kamila, Digna
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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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Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s Election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

Political messages can be channeled in various ways and the ruling now Lithuanian party, LFGU has chosen a very delicate way of the communications – through a TV series featuring the beauty and the ambiance of Naisiai, a picturesque settlement in Siauliai district.

Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.

Illegal border crossings to Estonia on rise after Russia World Cup

Football fans with temporary residency permits of the Russia World Cup, or fan Ids, are trying to illegally cross the Russian border with Estonia, a member of the European Union.

Estonian 13-year-old lethally overdoses fentanyl

Estonian prosecutors have accused a 15-year old of negligent homicide after a girl, 13, passed away from fentanyl overdose.

Wild party competition and political chaos – what goes on during pre-election period?

If we compare who fought under 5% barrier some 8-12 years ago, we will see Daugava’s diggers, head nurse parties and eurosceptics parties whose ability to create some form of a working party programme was very weak. Now political parties’ competitiveness is so high that up to eight parties may successfully overcome the 5% barrier and this points to healthy competition. At the same time, in all this competitive mess it is impossible to understand where parties get financing and access to media resources, politologist and Providus think tank head researcher Iveta Kažoka commented on the pre-election period in an interview to BNN.

Google fined with EUR 4 billion for competition abuse with Android

Google has been fined by the European Commission with a fine of 4.34 billion euros illegal abuse of its dominant market position and the executive of the European Union is set to move on with investigations into other possible practices of unfair competition by the U.S. company.

Turkey removes post-coup attempt state of emergency

The government of Turkey has decided to end the nationwide state of emergency that was imposed in 2016 after a failed coup attempt, state media have reported.

House arrest of Russian theatre director Serebrennikov extended

A court in Russia prolonged the house arrest of Kirill Serebrennikov, a leading Russian theatre and cinema director, until August 22 as he waits for a criminal trial charged with of embezzlement of state funds.

NCP picks Jurašs, Strīķe, Bordāns, Feldmanis and Šuplinska as its headliners

Latvia’s New Conservative Party has picked Juris Jurašs, Juta Strīķe, Jānis Bordāns, Krišjānis Feldmanis and Ilga Šuplinska as its headliner candidates for Saeima elections.

Bank: residents spend an average of 50 to 100 euros on health every quarter

84% of residents aged 18 to 74 have used medical services in the past three months. Only 5% of all costs were covered by health insurance, according to a survey by Norvik Banka.

Countries sign third Rail Baltica co-financing agreement

Connecting Europe Facility co-financing agreement for the construction of Rail Baltica railway infrastructure was signed by participating member states on 13 July. The value of the agreement is EUR 130 million. CEF’s contribution will reach EUR 110 million, which is equal to 85% of all applicable costs, as confirmed by RB Rail communication consultant Ligita Brodiņa.

Saeima plans to increase compensations for child victims

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported for the third reading amendments that provide for increasing state compensations to child victims.

Sweden asks for help to fight wildfires behind Arctic Circle

Sweden has called for help of European Union neighbours to put out wildfires, some raging in territories behind the arctic circle.

Latvijas Krajbanka administrator recovered EUR 1,038 million in June

The administrator of the liquidated Latvijas Krajbanka recovered EUR 1,038 million in June, which is 6.9 times more than a month prior, according to the official outlook published in Latvian Herald.

Estonians warned of heat wave, high UV radiation

Weather forecasters in Estonia have warned the population of hot weather conditions, because temperatures are forecast to reach 30-31 degrees Celsius this week.

Minister says police have leads in Bunkus murder case

Police have found new leads in the murder case of former insolvency administrator Mārtiņš Bunkus, said Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Average EU market prices for dairy products grew in May

Compared to April, dairy product prices in Latvia did not increase in May. In the EU, however, average market prices continued growing in May, according to information compiled by Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

ECHR: Russia violated human rights in Pussy Riot and Politkovskaya cases

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Russia guilty of human rights violations in its handling of two high-profile cases – its arrest and conviction of Pussy Riot protest group in 2012 and the investigation into journalist Anna Politkovskaya's murder.