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Saturday 25.05.2019 | Name days: Junora, Anšlavs

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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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

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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

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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

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Producer prices in industry in Latvia grow 3.8% in April

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

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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

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

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

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British PM pressured to resign as another government member quits

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