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Ceturtdiena 22.08.2019 | Name days: Rudīte, Everts

BNN summary of the week: Lembergs’ trial to last years; behind the scenes in KPV LV; Lithuania preparing for elections

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThis week Latvia’s party KPV LV endured internal squabbles: Artuss Kaimiņš has been dismissed as deputy chairman of the party’s faction. Kaimiņš says the vote was held behind his back. Because seven out of eleven deputies voted in favour of his dismissal, he intends to appeal this decision, since this number is not enough (two-thirds have to vote one way to ensure the vote passes).

Juris Juriss, the prosecutor in charge of the criminal case against infamous Aivars Lembergs, told BNN that Lembergs’ criminal case may remain unresolved for years if the court justice system is not made more efficient.

Meanwhile Lithuania is preparing for presidential elections, which will take place 12 May. Estonia’s government, on the other hand, is already experiencing dismissal of politicians.

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Betrayal; Post; Fight; Decision; Trial.


Kaimiņš shocked over vote behind his back; plans to appeal decision

«I cannot say why the faction makes decisions when I’m not present. It was a vote behind my back,» Artuss Kaimiņš told BNN, commenting on the decision made by KPV LV faction to dismiss him as the faction’s deputy chairman.

The politician says that seven out of eleven KPV LV deputies had voted in favour of his dismissal, and this number does not reach two-thirds (as required by regulation) – i.e. eight votes. This means the decision is void and the faction will have to vote again next week, explains the politician.

«This is lightning and thunder out of nowhere to me,» Kaimiņš told BNN, voicing his utter shock over the topic even being added to the faction’s agenda.

Kaimiņš also says the faction was aware he would be absent from the 2 May meeting, adding that the faction does not usually gather on Thursdays.

Full article here


New Estonian Minister not to receive €31,000 compensation after stepping down

Marti Kuusik, the new Estonian Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technologies, who has resigned this week after a few days in office, would not receive any compensation.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reported on Wednesday, May 1, that the press representative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Rasmus Ruuda, has noted that Kuusik isn’t due any financial compensation for finding himself forced to leave office in the face of a criminal investigation for alleged incidents of domestic violence.

The press representative failed to comment any further on possible explanations of the decision, which seemed to contradict, what ERR had reported previously that Kuusik may be entitled to around €31,000 compensation, in line with Estonian law, namely, the Government of the Republic Act 1995.

Full article here


A nail-biting rivalry in Lithuania’s presidential race

With just 10 days till the presidential election, Ingrida Šimonytė, the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) – backed candidate in May 12 presidential election, has taken a slim lead over Gitanas Nausėda, the frontrunner until recently, the latest poll by pollster Vilmorus shows.

Neck-to-neck rivalry a bad sign for PM Skvernelis

Šimonytė, who is a MP now and was Finance minister in the 2008-2012 Conservatives-led Cabinet, infamous for slashing pensions and social allowances in attempt to curb economic crisis, edges Nausėda by a mere 0.4 percentage point – Šimonytė’s support is at 22.3 percent and Nausėda’s – 21.9 percent.

The neck-to-neck rivalry of the two may be a bad omen for Saulius Skvernelis, the presidential hopeful of the ruling Farmers and Greens, who in the poll came third with 16.7 percent support, down from 18.4 percent a month ago. The difference between the two leading candidates is within the 3.1 percent error margin.

Full article here


Latvia terminates contract on diverting EU funding for «cemetery tram» service

The Central Finance and Contracting Agency has decided to terminate the contract with public transport company Rīgas satiksme regarding the implementation of EU fund co-financed Skanste tram project, as confirmed by CFCA.

The notification regarding the decision was sent to RS on 2 May.

So far as part of the project CFCA has paid the company EUR 451,304. Now RS is expected to pay this amount back. The repayment term is 3 August 2019.

The agency has reviewed information provided by RS and explanations, the project’s outlined plan and risks associated with the project, the report compiled by Ernst&Young Baltic, as well as other information regarding activities of RS. Based on the analysis, CFCA has decided to one-sidedly terminate this contract.

CFCA director Mārtiņš Brencis said that the agency outlined unacceptably high risks that threaten the plan’s implementation in accordance with the schedule and declaration of expenditures to the European Commission.

Full article here


Enough evidence, yet «Lembergs case» may still take years, says prosecutor

«We, the public prosecution, can say with at least half-certainty that the proceedings will continue for a long time. We can see attempts to delay the criminal process – specifically during debates. Thus, the debates with the defence are not likely to end sooner than in 2020 and that is the best scenario. If this continues without more active involvement of the courts, the process may last several more years,» BNN was told by prosecutor Juris Juriss, responsible for the criminal case against the suspended Mayor of Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs.

«There is sufficient proof for the court to announce a verdict»

During legal debates, Juriss asked the court to sentence Lembergs to eight years of prison with confiscation of property and a fine of EUR 64,500. However, as the prosecutor told BNN, the court process is being actively delayed and this situation is permitted by the existing «blurry regulations» of criminal proceedings. Thus, the requested penalty might not come sooner than a couple of years from now.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor notes: «I believe, there is sufficient proof to blame him of committing crimes and for the court to find him guilty.»

Influence of money extends proceedings

The prosecutor says that in the court justice system it is possible for wealthy people to prolong and complicate legal proceedings. «This is apparent in practice.»

One of the mechanisms that complicate the proceedings, according to Juriss, is the influence such people have over the media. «I have reasons to mention that Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze in the past decade has interviewed me at least twice about the details of the proceedings. At the same time, in the past, there were two to three articles surfaced almost every week, journalists of the newspaper appeared at court proceedings with surprising regularity.» According to the prosecutor, everything reported about the case represents a one-sided opinion, and not every accused person can afford something like that. «And this is the enormous difference – pressure can be exercised in such a way,» the prosecutor comments on Lembergs case.

Full article here

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Lithuania backs Sinkevičius as European Commission nominee

The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, August 22, voted to support Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Lithuanian Minister of the Economy and Innovation, as the country’s pick for the next European Commission.

New member of Riga Freeport board rushes to meet controversial Šlesers, TV Ziņas says

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Latvian power production drops to lowest level in year

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Compensation payments of defunct Latvian PNB Banka begin

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Riga planning to introduce tourist fee – one euro per day

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Expert: With Belarus electricity freezing Baltics’ solidarity, Moscow is over the moon

In a blow to Lithuania’s far-reaching plans, Latvia has announced it looks forward to buying electricity from a nuclear power plant in Belarus’ Astravyets under construction 50 kilometres away from Vilnius.

WHO: Little risk from microplastics in drinking water

The World Health Organization has declared that the current level of microplastic particles in drinking water does not pose is not a serious risk for health, yet more research was necessary to determine their effects on human health.

Subsidies to controversial Riga transport company could increase by EUR 20 mln

Amid the criticism of the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme for its losses and their effect on the Latvian state budget, a plan has been voiced to increase its subsidies, now 120 million euros, by another 20 million euros, Latvian Radio reports.

Latvian Minister keeping adviser detained by corruption watchdog for now

Latvian Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards will clarify the reason, why his advisor and the mayor of the city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, has been detained by corruption investigators, to decide on keeping him in office.

Trump, Macron willing to readmit Russia to G7, despite Crimea annexation

The leaders of France and the United States have expressed their backing to readmitting Russia to the G7 conference of world powers in 2020, despite Ukraine’s Crimea still being held by Moscow, CNN reports.

Latvian excise tax income up by 8% in first half of 2018

The Latvian excise tax income in the first half of 2019 has been 521 million euros, –an increase by 39 million euros, or 8.1% – compared to the respective period last year, showed data by the Latvian State Revenue Service.

Latvian PM: Most of freely available 2020 budget funds already earmarked

Discussing the 2020 Latvian national budget, Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš pointed out that its fiscal space is limited by previous decisions and that the expected losses of the Riga transport company will not permit raising wages and pensions nationally.

Corruption watchdog detains Ogre city mayor Helmanis

The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has on Wednesday detained the mayor of central Latvian city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, according to LETA news agency.

New members to Freeport of Riga Authority elected, despite criticism

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Italy loses government, coalition of right-wing, anti-establishment parties collapses

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Kaljulaid opposed to Estonian minister after police chief scandal

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Planned Latvian economic cases’ court conceptually backed by government

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Riga deputy mayor posts go to Harmony and independent politician

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Latvia charges energy company executives for attempted fraud

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Consumer protection: 34% of Latvians admit post-vacation financial difficulties

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Firms like Riga transport company to be banned from working with losses, minister says

As the European Union’s statisticians have classified the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme in the debt of the national budget, it is planned in Latvia to prohibit such companies from working with losses, Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs has told LNT 900 sekundes programme.

Minor dies in large fire in Latvia

An underage person has been found dead in a large fire in the Latvian region of Vidzeme, the Latvian Fire and Rescue Service has said. Person wascsaved from burning house in Liepāja.

UK aims to end free entry of EU citizens on October 31

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Riga city elects new mayor – Oļegs Burovs – and restores decade-old coalition

The Riga City Council has elected Oļegs Burovs as the new mayor, ending two months of political discussions and restoring the coalition that has ruled in the Latvian capital for ten years.

EU: Rīgas satiksme cuts Latvian budget fiscal room in 2020 by 72 mln EUR

The Riga city company Rīgas satiksme should, according to European Union criteria, be in included in the general government sector, thus it would cut the fiscal space of the 2020 Latvian state budget by 72 million euros, Finance Ministry stated.