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Ceturtdiena 19.07.2018 | Name days: Jautrīte, Kamila, Digna
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BNN summary of the week: KPV LV confused; Bank of Latvia head takes centre stage

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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: Investigation; Future; Environment; Conflict; Refusal.

INVESTIGATION: Authorities commence criminal prosecution against Bank of Latvia governor

Latvian prosecutor’s office has commenced criminal prosecution of bribery accused Bank of Latvia governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons.

In the criminal process received from Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on 18 June, a request is detailed to commence criminal prosecution of two people – Rimšēvičs and Martinsons. On 28 June, the prosecutor’s office made the decision to commence criminal prosecution of the two men, as BNN was told by Prosecutor General’s Office Public Relations specialist Una Reķe.

Bank of Latvia governor is accused of bribery, whereas the other person is accused of supporting bribery.

As previously reported, in February Rimšēvičs was made a suspect in a criminal case investigated by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. The size of the bribe in question is at least EUR 100,000. Martinsons was initially detained by authorities as a second suspect but was later released. Instead the businessman was applied with a security measure not associated with deprivation of freedom.

Rimšēvičs, on the other hand, is not allowed to perform his duties as governor of the Bank of Latvia, as well as meet certain people and travel from the country.

Full article here

FUTURE: Economy Ministry says it is necessary to reduce the volume of low-skilled workforce

Employment opportunities are set to expand in the next decade. However, demographic tendencies and regional labour market differences will create an even stronger need for labour force, according to Latvian Economy Ministry’s medium and long-term labour market outlooks.

«To ensure sustainable economic development, it is necessary to raise productivity in business sector, education system and every person’s life. Business has to become productive to reduce costs and raise wages to workers. The education system should provide the labour market with appropriate labour force with an emphasis on education system and competence-based approach. Every one of us should learn modern skills to help raise our competence and competitiveness on the labour market,» says Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Shortage of medium-skilled labor will become more pronounced. This will be felt the most by processing and construction sectors. Education offer structure has become more balanced and more in line with labour market needs. However, the number of specialist that enter the labour market is still below the desired level, according to information from the ministry.

Full article here

ENVIRONMENT:  Fire at BAO landfill for dangerous waste; fire fighters still on the scene

A fire started on the territory of AS BAO landfill for dangerous waste in Olaine last night. Latest reports state it has since been localized, as confirmed by State Fire and Rescue Service representative Inta Palkavniece.

Because dangerous chemical waste is stored at the landfill, fire fighters threw a great deal of resources to put out the fire – at least 34 fire fighters, said Palkavniece. SFRS reports that evacuation is not necessary. Nor is it necessary to establish any restrictions for residents to go outside.

Representatives of the State Environment Service have arrived at the scene.

BAO chairman confirmed that a fire appeared within the company’s owned territory in Olaine last night. He said the fire has been localized. The company has commenced discussions with the State Environment Service about consequences of the fire.

Full article here

CONFLICT: Opinion: the reasons behind accusations against KPV LV are confusing

«On a basic level we have a feeling there is nothing there, because the reasons behind accusations are confusing,» said KPV LV board member Linda Liepiņa in a telephone conversation with BNN after her interrogation at Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Liepiņa also said the questions she was asked were associated with the addresses KPV LV’s previous addresses and the person who asked her to join the party. For the record, the person who asked her to join was Kaspars Upacieris.

KPV LV board member also mentioned that investigators who interviewed her made no attempts to turn the conversation towards any possible violations regarding possible illegal funding. Also she was asked no questions about other people associated with accusations imposed against the party.

When asked if accusations were fabricated, Liepiņa replied: «I cannot say. As far as I can tell, they [CPCB] are acting in response to an application from Ilmārs Poikāns».

CPCB mentioned in its statement to the press that two people have been found suspects in a criminal case launched in June 2017. The two are accused of illegal financing of political organizations, as well as group fraud.

Full article here

REFUSAL: Jurmala’s bronze tortoise sculpture to be auctioned off; municipality says it is illegal

During the artRiga art festival this autumn, it is planned to auction off one of Jurmala’s symbol – the famous bronze tortoise sculpture, says sculptor Jāņis Bārda’s wife Aivija Bārda.

The sculptor’s family explains their decision with the fact that the municipality has failed to pay in full for the sculpture in the last decade. ‘Due to recent events, our family needs a new home. Because of that, we have decided to sell the bronze tortoise. There is a great deal of interest for it,’ says the family’s representative.

Bārda mentioned that the sculptor still has not received the full payment for the sculpture even though 20 years have passed. She also mentioned events that took place in 1995. According to her, Jurmala City Council had placed an order for a sculpture in 1995. «However, when the sculpture was complete the money for it was transferred to then the city’s chief artist Egīls Kuks’ personal bank account. He promised to give the money to Jānis. However, hoping to make money, he decided to put it all in a bank as a deposit. That bank later went bankrupt, and the money was lost,» explains Bārda, adding that the family still has not received the money even though they had invested their personal money in the sculpture’s creation.

The municipality had allocated LVL 8,000 for the sculpture. According to Bārda, the tortoise is her family’s property, because no one paid for it and there is no commission agreement with the municipality. Her family also has Kuks’ promissory note.

Jurmala City Council representatives, on the other hand, claim «Aivija Bārda is neither the author nor the owner of the sculpture». Therefore the planned auction is viewed by the city council as illegal.

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.