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Saturday 25.05.2019 | Name days: Junora, Anšlavs
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BNN summary of the week: LDz scandal; Lithuania prepares for elections; Lembergs’ forgetfulness

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULast week’s biggest announcement in Latvia came from Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits, who said «Latvian Railways current management cannot be trusted». The company is suspected of corruption and internal scheming. Meanwhile, LDz could not fully explain during their press-conference why Linkaits’ claims are untrue and veered from the topic, thereby only increasing suspicions that the company board does fear being «disqualified».

 Meanwhile, Lithuania is preparing for presidential elections.

Estonia is busy determining the most popular political party that could enter the next European Parliament.

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Announcement; Confidence; Fight; Damage; Fears; Survey; Truth.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Minister says administration of Latvian Railway cannot be trusted

The current administration of Latvian Railway cannot be trusted – they do not understand European Commission’s free market regulations. Moreover – there are suspicions of corruption and internal scheming within the company, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits during a press-conference.

Latvian Railway chairman and president Edvīns Bērziņš, board member and vice-president Aivars Strakšas, as well as vice-president Ainis Stūrmanis received the biggest portion of bashing from the minister for «non-transparent activities».

«I have met with LDz administration and shared with them my impression about the company’s overall work. When I began my work in the ministry, I made it clear we would assess all companies for compliance with good corporate management principle to prevent different kinds of scheming and crimes of corruption, which have been historically recorded here. And respectively, after performing the assessment, I informed the administration of Latvian Railway that

I cannot trust them due to a number of reasons,» said Linkaits.

Full article here

CONFIDENCE

Ombudsman Juris Jansons proposed as second presidential candidate in Latvia

Latvia’s Farmers Union, which is part of Union of Greens and Farmers, has decided to pick ombudsman Juris Jansons as their state presidential candidate, as confirmed by UGF board chairman Armands Krauze.

He added that Jansons has agreed to stand candidate for the presidential post.

Talks with political parties forming UGF regarding the ombudsman’s candidacy have taken place. It is expected he might be picked as UGF’s candidate, said the politician. Latvia’s Green Party still needs to make its decision on this topic, added Krauze.

LFU has decided to pick Jansons for the presidential post because he is politically neutral. Additionally, LFU appreciates the ombudsman’s work in resolving many public problems, as well as his overall competence, said the politician.

Latvia’s Green Party’s chairman Edgars Tavars said on Wednesday that his party does not object to Jansons’ candidacy. «Mr. Jansons is a much respected candidate. We do not object, but we want to learn his opinion on multiple important topics,» said Tavars.

Full article here

FIGHT

After meeting with minister, Ventspils opposition decides to resume work in city council

After meeting with Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce, opposition deputies of Ventspils City Council concluded that the minister is aware of and fully understands the situation in the city council. Because of that, members of the opposition have decided to once again start attending meetings of the city council, as confirmed by Ventspils City Council opposition deputy and European Parliament member candidate Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis.

As previously reported, all members of Ventspils City Council opposition had decided to stop attending city council meetings because on 12 April the ruling coalition refused to provide them with information regarding the municipality’s and some of its capital associations’ payments to Ventspils Development Agency.

On Thursday, 9 May, opposition deputies Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Dace Korna, Aivis Landmanis and Ivars Landmanis met with minister Juris Pūce and officials of the ministry and informed them how their rights to take part in work of city council’s committees and councils are unlawfully restricted and that they are not provided access to information regarding the municipality’s work and spending.

Full article here

DAMAGE

State Audit says Medical Treatment Risk Fund does not function in patients’ interests

Medical Treatment Risk Fund was formed in Latvia to ensure patients are able to receive compensation for potential damages caused during the medical treatment process, but it does not perform its main function because it does not work in patients’ interests, as concluded by Latvia’s State Audit in an audit performed to analyse Medical Treatment Risk Fund’s paid compensation and the process’ compliance with regulations.

The money the fund offers is vital for the health and life of many patients because they allow taking action immediately to reduce and prevent possible negative consequences. In certain cases, waiting for decisions regarding payment of compensation results in said money being received by inheritors of patients that needed the money, State Audit concluded evaluating the work performed by the fund’s remuneration system.

Over the course of five years, Medical Treatment Risk Fund has received requests from more than 900 patients and more than 200 decisions were made in which damage was recognized and compensations worth EUR 4.4 million were paid. The audit evaluated accessibility of the fund, the time it takes to assess patients’ requests, the procedure for determining the amount of remuneration and the formation of fund’s finances.

Full article here

FEARS

Lithuania selects next President as inequality, poverty top issues

Despite Lithuania’s long economic upswing, regional differences in wages and polarisation of population are key national problems before the Lithuanian presidential election due on Sunday, May 12.

French news agency AFP reports that a total nine candidates are vying to replace two-term independent incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite, but surveys show that only three stand any real chance of making it to the expected May 26 run-off coinciding with European parliament elections.

Top candidated are centre-left Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, conservative-backed ex-finance minister Ingrida Šimonytė and independent economist Gitanas Nausėda.

Full article here

SURVEY

Leading Estonian parties, candidates prior to EP elections

Reformists, a major opposition party in the Estonian parliament, are leading combined results of polls before the European Parliament’s elections, where Estonians will pick their favourites to fill the six national seats.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the aggregate results of polls conducted during the past three weeks by Norstat pollster showed that the Reform Party would currently earn the votes of 22.1% of those surveyed, while another 20.3% would vote for Centre.

Social Democrats, meanwhile, currently command the support of 19.3% of voters, while 12.4% would vote for the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) and another 9.8% for national-conservative Isamaa.

Full article here

TRUTH

Lembergs forced to clarify declaration, increasing declared income by half

Suspended mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is also accused of serious crimes, has clarified data in his declaration for 2018, increasing his declared income by EUR 372,144 or more than half than his initially declared amount.

LETA agency had previously noticed in the official’s declaration that Lembergs had apparently sold shares in Latvian Shipping Company for EUR 307,144, but the income section of his declaration did not show this amount and the total income stated therein was EUR 333,461. When LETA asked why this amount was not stated as income, Lembergs said it was a mistake and that he will correct it in the declaration. Because of that, his declaration had briefly disappeared from State Revenue Service’s database for a couple of days. The entry has since been updated and the declaration is once again accessible.

The updated declaration mentions income from the aforementioned sale of shares and his mother’s gifted EUR 65,000. Thus, Lembergs’ income was EUR 705,605 in 2018.

As previously reported, Lembergs biggest source of income last year was Ventspils Development Agency, which raises questions regarding the source of its finances. As president and board member in the agency, Lembergs earned EUR 93,389 last year. EUR 44,301 was earned by the suspended Ventspils mayor at Ventspils Freeport authority, where he works as board chairman. His wage as chairman of Ventspils City Council was EUR 20,067 last year.

Lembergs’ pension was EUR 72,740 or more than EUR 6,000 a month last year. Lembergs started receiving his pension in 2016. Lembergs also earned EUR 44,301 as chairman of Ventspils Freeport authority. As president and board member of Latvia’s Transit Business Association, Lembergs earned EUR 24,000 last year.

Full article here


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Riga Tourism Development Bureau gets «new» management

Guntars Grīnvalds, who until now worked as board member, has been approved as the new chairman of Riga Tourism Development Bureau. Ieva Lasmane has been picked as a new board member. Resignations from Maksims Tolstojs and the detailed Vita Jermoloviča have also been accepted.

Statistics: the older a person, the lonelier that person is

17 % of the population aged 75 and over mentioned that during the last month have felt lonely all or most of the time, while such an assessment among younger people aged 25–34 was given ten times less frequently.

Opinion: oligarchs’ wallet won’t work in Latvia’s first open presidential election

The President of the Republic of Latvia may be an opportunity for Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes, to receive a pardon in case the court finds him guilty in the criminal process that has been continuing for years.

Video: British Prime Minister announces stepping down on June 7

The head of the British government, Theresa May, listened to pressure from her own Conservative Party and announced plant to resign on June 7 without reaching the Brexit compromise she was aiming for.

Justice Minister says Latvia’s government will not exist without his party

Without New Conservative Party, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government would cease to exist, said the leader of NCP and Latvia’s Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Friday, 24 May.

Estonian electricity grid operator enters deal to join European network

Estonian electricity and gas network operator Elering has signed the agreement to become part of the synchronous electricity network of Continental Europe together with Latvia and Lithuania.

Many EU citizens not allowed to vote in UK

During the European Parliament’s elections in the United Kingdom, many citizens from other European Union member states have been turned away at polling stations.

Baltic railway carriers desire open market for free competition

«Attempts to commence cross-border cooperation with private carriers of neighbouring Baltic States are impeded in order to preserve dependence on services of state railway companies,» said Baltic Express director Māris Bremze after a meeting between heads of Baltic private railway carriers.

Heads of Latvian Railway lose Latvian State Railway Administration’s trust

Latvia’s State Railway Administration has sent a letter to Transport Ministry and Latvian Railways. In it they ask the government to «evaluate behaviour of LDz leading officials – Edvīns Bērziņš and Aivara Strakšas – in writing an application containing false information and thereby organizing a discrediting campaign against State Railway Administration».

Stoltenberg expresses NATO’s full readiness to react to Russian cyberattacks

NATO stood ready to respond to cyber attacks from Russia and other possible adversaries with all its capabilities, the Secretary General of the alliance has stated.

Weather becomes cooler in Latvia; meteorologists promise warmth will return

On Friday, 24 May, an atmospheric front will pass through Latvia, causing cloudy weather, rain and thunderstorms in eastern portions of the country.

Eco Baltia concerned about possible complications in waste management procurement in Riga

Eco Baltia supervisory board has voiced no-confidence to the concern’s environment management company Eco Baltia vide’s board members Māris Simanovičs and Jānis Aizbalts over the decision to found CREB Riga together with public waste management service provider Clean R.

Study: 50.6% of enterprises view Latvia’s business-related legislative environment negatively

Latvia’s business-related legislation is poor to very poor, according to 50.6% of interviewed entrepreneurs. Only 19.2% view legislation as either very good or more or less good, according to Turība University’s Business Index.

Lithuania: Nausėda and Šimonytė set to square off in Sunday’s runoff election

The nail-biter presidential election will produce late Sunday a new host of the presidential palace in Vilnius’ Daukantas square for next five years, but which of two candidates will be there, now only God knows.

Political carousel. Survey of Latvian political parties aiming for EP elections

Although Latvia will have eight seats in the European Parliament, there are 249 candidates from 16 political parties. If you have yet to make a choice who is worthy of representing Latvia and the country’s interests it is worth looking into party leaders told BNN news portal in regards to their political priorities.

25% Estonian voters have voted days before European elections

Estonian voters have been active in early and online voting as a total of 25,4% of eligible voters have taken part in the European Parliament’s elections. The election days in the Baltic states are on Saturday or Sunday depending on the country.

Producer prices in industry in Latvia grow 3.8% in April

Compared to April 2018, average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 3.8 % in April 2019. The level of prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 6.0 % and that of exported products – by 1.8 %.

Latvia’s Prime Minister proposes assessing governance of EP elections once they are done

The current state of European Parliament elections in Latvia suggests there is a need to assess governance immediately after their end, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

System malfunction limits voting freedom for Latvian voters

Malfunctions have been observed in the online data exchange system used by election sites in Latvia to for European Parliament elections. This is why it is no longer possible for residents to vote at any election site, limiting their voting options to the election sites they are registered with, as explained by the Central Election Commission.

European elections start with polls in Netherlands and UK

Polls in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom launched the elections for the European Parliament, starting four days of voting across the 28-nation bloc.

Latvian Saeima forms investigative committee to study MPC system

On Thursday, 23 May, Latvia’s Saeima accepted the decision to form a special investigative committee to study mandatory procurement component system.

Drivers in Latvia no longer have to have their driver’s license on them

23 May marks the coming into force of amendments to the Road Traffic Law that allow drivers to not carry their vehicle’s registration licence and their driver’s licence on them at all times as long as they have a passport or eID with them, as explained by Road Safety Directorate.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy appoints screenwriter and TV studio CEO to his staff

Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appointed his staff including the screenwriter and executive director of his Kvartal 95 television production studio.

State Security Service has yet to observe foreign influence over EP elections in Latvia

Latvia’s State Security Service has yet to receive any information regarding any direct and systematic attempts to influence European Parliament elections in Latvia. SSS also has no information regarding any vote-buying cases, the service reports.

British PM pressured to resign as another government member quits

Voicing opposition to the new Brexit plan, another member of the British government, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May either to step down or to be removed from office.

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