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Sunday 15.12.2019 | Name days: Jana, Johanna, Hanna

BNN summary of the week: hospital crisis. Empty seats. Riga City Council’s debates on seats

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Some jokes sometimes cost thousands. A phone call received by Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital regarding a planted bomb caused the hospital’s administration to evacuate patients and halt all operations that day, costing the state several thousand euros, according to the hospital’s board chairperson Ilze Kreicberga. The exact amount is unknown at the moment but it is clear that it will not be a small one.

Meanwhile, two women considered their jobs. The head of Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council chairperson Dace Ķezbere, who is accused of inaction in her post, announced plans to leave her post. Meanwhile, another politician mired in scandals Baiba Broka, who had only recently recovered her job at the University of Latvia, decided to leave the university following a backlash.

There are other empty seats that fill the minds of hopeful politicians. Riga City Council deputies excluded from Harmony have started considering supporting the mayoral candidate of Honour to Serve Riga – Oļegs Burovs. The do admit, however, it will not be easy working in such a coalition. It seems the grudge against Harmony remains fresh.

BNN offers you a summary of the most topical developments of the week, including topics such as: Expensive call; Farewell?; Deal; Dirty business; New ambassador; Slowing; Investigators; Inspection.


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Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital board chairperson Ilze Kreicberga

Stradins Hospital’s idleness will definitely cost the state several thousands

The idleness suffered by Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital when an anonymous phone call detailed bombing threats on 31 July will likely cost the state several thousand euros, said the hospital’s board chairperson Ilze Kreicberga in an interview to public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds.

She refrained from mentioning any specific amounts, saying that estimates will be performed soon. She did say, however, that the amount will be considerable.

Kreicberga expects the hospital to return to normal around the beginning of next week. Daycare and emergency medical assistance service are already back to normal. Currently it is necessary to review the work that was postponed because of yesterday’s events, as well as determine the state of patients who were moved to other hospitals and the patients who were released.

Full article here


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NEPLP chairperson Dace Ķezbere

Latvia’s national media council chairperson considers leaving post

Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) chairperson Dace Ķezbere considers leaving her post. She says she has yet to write her resignation, but it will be done.

NEPLP may provide more information on this soon.

NEPLP member Aurēlija Ieva Druviete says Ķezbere has informed other members of the council of her decision to step down. However, Druviete says she does not now if the resignation is ready or not.

Ķezbere is planning to leave NEPLP in September, when the Saeima gathers for its autumn session and will be able to decide on her dismissal, said Druviete. Until a replacement has been found, Ķezbere’s duties may be performed by vice-chairman Ivars Āboliņš. Druviete does not plan to step down from her post, however.

Currently NEPLP has four members. In April, Council member Gunta Līdaka had announced her decision to leave. No selection process was organized after she left and council members divided her duties among themselves.

As previously reported, Latvian Association of Journalists (LAJ) has asked the 13th Saeima to discuss the possibility of evaluating the work performed by members of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) and replace old council members with new ones.

Full article here

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBribery accused Baiba Broka decides to leave her work at University of Latvia

On Tuesday, 30 July, corruption accused politician Baiba Broka submitted a resignation to the administration of the University of Latvia, according to information from LETA.

Broka submitted her resignation, stressing that she has not committed any of the crimes she is accused of. In her resignation submitted to LU rector Indriķis Muižnieks, Broka notes that she has decided to leave to protect the reputation of the university in which she had worked since 1997.

LU vice-rector Ina Druviete has confirmed that Broka’s resignation has been received.

Broka will leave her job at the University of Latvia 30 July.

Druviete stresses that the university respects Broka’s choice and respects her decision made in the name of protecting the institution’s reputation.

Borka has yet to offer comments on this.

BNN had previously reported that just recently Broka had secured a new post in the university – she was appointed as legal affairs expert in the administration’s support group.

Full article here


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Valērijs Petrovs (L) and Aleksejs Rosļikovs (R)

Riga City Council’s independent deputies may consider working with HSR

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction (IDF), which combines deputies excluded from Harmony, would be prepared to sign a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga (HSR) faction, admits IDF leader Valērijs Petrovs.

According to Petrovs, the scenario in which Harmony and HSR form a coalition is currently being discussed. Additionally, there is a possibility of HSR and IDF signing a cooperation agreement, too. If such an agreement was reached, HSR mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs would receive at least 32 votes in his support.

Petrovs stresses, however, talks regarding possible cooperation with HSR «are in the state of discussion», because it is hard to tell how realistic it would be to make decisions if Harmony and IDF have no mutual communication.

«We have started discussing potential cooperation models with HSR, but we have no such communication with Harmony. Talks are complicated because the matter is as well – will we be able to make any decisions once a mayor has been elected,» said Petrovs, adding that «there is room to reach an agreement with HSR».

Not division of seats is being discussed at the moment, Petrovs claims, even though faction representatives had previously stressed that one of their requests is keeping Vadims Baraņņiks as vice-mayor of Riga.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUCompetition Council launches case against Riga City Council and Getliņi EKO

Latvia’s Competition Council (CC) has initiated a case against Riga City Council and Getliņi EKO for possible breach of EU establishing treaty. A temporary measure is requested, which could mean the halting of the re-signing of the waste management contract.

Other possible violations are also being investigated.

CC head Skaidrīte Ābrama explained in a conversation to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 30 July, that Riga City Council has been sent a letter detailing uncovered facts. A response will be expected until 8 August. She said that

a temporary measure would allow CC to study if the waste management contract could affect competition in Riga.

A full evaluation would require up to two years, says the head of CC.

Ābrama says there are concerns that the waste management model employed between Riga City Council and Getliņi EKO could potentially reduce competition in Riga’s waste management industry to nothing. She stressed that CC had warned about this two years ago, but the municipality did not take the warning seriously.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUPotential US ambassador to urge Latvia to combat money laundering more actively

Career diplomat nominated to become the next US ambassador to Latvia John Carwile told the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee that if he is approved in this post, he will urge Latvia’s government to develop and implement reforms to improve prevention of corruption and money laundering.

Carwile also said he will support efforts to resolve the matters left unsolved from the Holocaust, such as the restitution of Jewish property.

According to him, his intention is reinforcing US-Latvian relations, while also defending and promoting US interests in Latvia and Europe.

«The ties binding the United States and Latvia are unbreakable. We lead together in NATO with our commitment to collective defence and our defence spending investments. Our economic ties are vibrant. We cooperate throughout Europe and Central Asia in the promotion of democracy, good governance, market economies, and the rule of law. And we collaborate daily to ensure our transatlantic community remains strong and resilient,» said Carwile.

«If confirmed by the Senate, I intend to strengthen the U.S.-Latvian relationship while advocating for and advancing U.S. interests in Latvia and throughout Europe. I will strengthen our robust security cooperation. I will work to increase our bilateral trade and investment. I will expand upon our already strong cooperation in advancing democracy, rule of law, and development in Eastern Partnership states and across Central Asia,» he added.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFlash estimate – Latvia’s GDP up 2.1% in Q2 2019

Compared to Q2 2018, the gross domestic product volume has increased by 2.1 % in Latvia in Q2 2019.

Main upward pressure on the GDP was exerted by the volume increase in services, including rise of 2.5 % in retail trade, according to the flash estimate from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Compared to Q1 2019, GDP grew by 0.8 %, according to seasonally and calendar adjusted data.


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUViolations of SRS employees may be investigated by Internal Security Bureau

Latvian Interior Affairs subordinated Internal Security Bureau (ISB) may be entrusted with investigating violations committed by employees of the State Revenue Service (SRS), the ministry reports.

This is something covered by the ministry’s prepared amendment drafts for the Criminal Process Law and other associated legislation.

Established legislation states that ISB’s competence covers the investigation of violations committed by employees of institutions subordinated to Interior Affairs Ministry, except for SRS.

Crimes committed by SRS workers in their line of work are investigated by SRS Internal Security Office.

European Court for Human Rights, on the other hand, has decided that the criterion for an independent and objective investigation is considered achieved in cases when the investigation is performed by representatives of the same institution.

Full article here


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State Revenue Service director general Ieva Jaunzeme

SRS head under fire again? Finance Ministry initiates another inspection

During Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ vacation his replacement, Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards, has initiated another inspection of work done by the State Revenue Service, as reported by <i>TV3</i> on 1 August 2019.

Finance Ministry’s representative Aleksis Jarockis confirmed in a conversation with the programme that the inspection was launched following a request of some legal person. The inspection will focus on the legal side of work performed by the service, not some specific official.

As it is known, in July another inspection focused on the work of SRS. As a result of it, Finance Ministry’s commission asked the minister to issue a verbal reprimand to SRS director general Ieva Jaunzeme for reporting controversial information.

Jarockis had previously explained that a service inspection had taken place in regards to publicly reported information and facts in relation to the initiative to reduce the taxpayers’ burden.

Full article here

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Aivars Lembergs leaves his post in Latvian Olympic Committee

On Friday, 13 December, individual member of Latvian Olympic Committee and member of its Executive Committee Aivars Lembergs announced to LOK board his decision to leave the organization, BNN was told by LOK press-secretary Mārtiņš Mālmeisters.

Ralfs Kļaviņš and Edvīns Bērziņš leave the board of Latvian Transit Business Association

Chairman of Riga Commercial Port Ralfs Kļaviņš and ex-chairman of Latvian Railway Edvīns Bērziņš have left the board of Latvian Transit Business Association, according to information from

US sanctions will not affect companies in which Lembergs no longer has any influence

The sanctions introduced by USA against Lembergs will not affect the companies over which he no longer has control thanks to a ruling of the court.

Liquidation of discount fares on multiple RMS routes would help save money for Rīgas satiksme

By liquidating multiple discounts for passenger fares on multiple LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme routes, LLC Rīgas satiksme public transport company hopes to save approximately EUR 1.75 million a year.

Tallinn region GDP portion decreases in Estonian economy

In 2018, 65% of the Estonian gross value added was created in Harju county, while the rest of the country is inching closed with Harju county, the official statistics of the Baltic country showed.

EU prolongs targeted sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

The European Union has extended for another six months its sanctions against Russia’s energy, finance and military sectors. The continued restrictive measures are said to remain in full until Minsk peace deal is implemented.

Local government representatives will no longer work at Riga and Ventspils freeport

Following the coming into force of amendments to the Law on Ports, representatives of Riga City Council and Ventspils City Council will lose their respective posts in the board of Riga Freeport and Ventspils Freeport, the law states.

Total tax debts in Latvia at December’s beginning – EUR 869.4 million

At the beginning of December, total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding, halted and extended debts, were equal to EUR 869.367 million, which is 1.9% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

In UK’s Brexit election, Conservatives win comfortable majority

In the British snap parliamentary election aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse, the ruling Conservative Party has won gaining a comfortable majority, according to close to complete results.

Riga City Council’s interim administration may be entrusted to VARAM state secretary Balševics

If the Saeima votes in favour of dismissing Riga City Council, the interim municipal administration may be entrusted to Environment Protection and Regional Ministry’s state secretary Edvīns Balševics, according to the ministry’s Riga City Council dismissal legislative draft to be decided on by the government on 17 December.

EU member states commit to 2050 carbon neutrality, Poland opts out

European Union’s 26 members, including the Baltic states, have supported the planned political course to considerably reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Coal-powered Poland said it could not reach the goal and opted out.

Latvia’s prime minister forms a work group to ensure Ventspils Freeport’s operations

On Thursday, 12 December, Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has issued an order on formation of a work group under Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in order to ensure undisrupted operations at Ventspils Freeport, as reported by the prime minister’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.

Ministry: to prevent damaging Latvian sports sector’s reputation, Lembergs should leave LOK

To avoid letting US sanctions negatively affect Latvian Olympic Committee and spread to the reputation of the country’s sports sector, the ministry can only ask Aivars Lembergs step down as member of LOK Executive Committee, BNN was told by Education and Science Ministry.

Budget Committee declines residents’ request to postpone increasing funding for parties

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has rejected a public initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents. This initiative requested postponing the planned increase of funding for political parties.

Lower election threshold in Lithuania – more democracy or chaos?

The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has lowered this week the parliamentary election threshold to 3 per cent for political parties and 5 per cent for coalitions.

Russia expels German diplomats, retaliating to German step over Berlin murder

Russia has asked two diplomats of the German Embassy to leave the country. This is a tit-for-tat measure after Germany declared two Russian diplomats personae non grata as Berlin investigates an international murder in the German capital, TASS reported.

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone to leave LTAB

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone will leave Latvian Transit Business Association managed by Aivars Lembergs, as both are subjected to US sanctions.

Lembergs’ influence over Ventspils Freeport needs to end, bank supervisors say

The goal of the US sanctions is reducing Aivars Lembergs’ economic and political influence over Ventspils Freeport and other companies under his control. Sanctions are not meant to paralyse companies, rather seeing how they are used to process deals influenced by the person under sanctions – Aivars Lembergs, said Finance and Capital Market Commission head Santa Purgaile during a press-conference on Thursday, 12 December.

USD 25 million offered in Weinstein sage to 30 alleged sexual abuse victims

In the U.S. movie industry scandal surrounding sexual abuse claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein his lawyers have offered a USD 25-million settlement to more than 30 women, The Guardian reports.

Legal Affairs Committee supports lifting judge immunity for administrative violation cases

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported prior to the second reading legislative drafts to the Law on Judicial Power and Law on Judges Disciplinary Liability intended to lift the immunity of judges in administrative violation cases, as confirmed by Justice Ministry.

Estonian-Finnish gas interconnection unveiled

Estonia and Finland have held ceremonies to unveil the gas pipeline Balticconnector, built to connect the gas transmission networks of both countries separated by the Baltic Sea.

Mārtiņš Kazāks officially becomes governor of the Bank of Latvia

On Thursday, 12 December, Latvia’s Saeima officially approved Mārtiņš Kazāks as the new governor of the Bank of Latvia, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

What is Ventspils Development Agency and what will its members do now?

Among the organizations against which US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control has adopted sanctions is also Ventspils Development Agency. In accordance with OFAC issued Global Magnitsky General Licence Nr.1, global partners have 30 days to cease all cooperation with this organization.

Israel on way to third parliamentary election in year

Israeli legislators have been unable to overcome a prolonged political crisis. The Knesset has given its initial approval to the third parliamentary election in the Middle Eastern country in a year’s time after legislators proved unable to form a majority coalition.

Social Integration Fund torn over NGO support priorities

Although sides of the Social Integration Fund have argued over priorities of the Non-Government Organizations Fund, the contest to start using funding allocated to NGOs may yet be announced this year, allows Social Integration Fund council member and Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s representative Imants Parādnieks.

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