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Wednesday 22.01.2020 | Name days: Austris

BNN summary of the week: Mūrniece apologizes; the end for LNT; viewing of Rimšēvičs’ case

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Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, economy, construction, Saeima, healthcare, railway, Rail Baltica, Z-Towers, Bank of Latvia, court of justiceNovember’s first Saeima meeting commenced with atypical crowds surrounding the parliament. Doctors and opponents of the regional reform protested outside the Saeima, one group after another, on Thursday, 7 November.

Neither group succeeded in accomplishing their plans. The municipal reform was supported in the first reading and doctors failed to secure more funding for their wages. Saeima’s speaker Ināra Mūrniece apologized for the parliament’s unreasonable decision in regards to increase of doctors’ wages.

Doctors plan to continue protesting, however. The Pull Down Flag, Light a Candle protest will be taking place in Latvia from 8th to 14th November.

Nevertheless, in spite of failed efforts from some people, certain changes have been accomplished, specifically in the media sector. All Media Baltics has confirmed plans to merge LNT and TV3 news services. In the future, the media plans to work only with TV3 brand.

Last week, Riga District Court finally started viewing the criminal case against governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons. It is expected the court process will likely last a long time.

The BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Apology, Merge; Major case; New court; Expensive farewell; Game of Towers; Future; Vaccination and Development.


Saeima speaker apologizes to doctors for making an unreasonable decision

topical, Saeima, protest, healthcare budget, Ināra Mūrniece, Kārlis Rācenis«On behalf of myself and the Saeima, I want to deeply apologize to healthcare workers for last year’s impossible decisions in regards to wage increase. It is not possible to complete in the current situation. At the same time, we are aware healthcare industry in in dire need for funding, and we are prepared to continue working with the sector to find a solution for the problem in the coming years,» said Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece, meeting with representatives of the Day Without Doctor protest on Thursday, 7 November.

Although the Saeima’s vote on the increase of wages for doctors last year had the best intentions, it had not financial backing and turned out too optimistic. This applies to both the economic outlook and state budget options. This was tough lesson for the parliament, said Mūrniece.

At the same time, the Saeima speaker stressed that healthcare sector’s funding remains a priority for the Saeima and the government.

A total of EUR 200 million is outlined for the healthcare industry in the state budget next year. This includes EUR 60 million for the increase of wages for healthcare workers. «When forming the budget, we looked to making it balanced and ensuring an increase for other sectors, because it is in our duty to divide available resources in the interest of all society,» comments Mūrniece.

Full article here


All Media Baltics to liquidate LNT news service; to work with TV3 brand instead

topical, All Media Baltics, Channel 2, LNT, LNT News, TV3Media group All Media Baltics intends to work with TV3 brand in Baltics from December onward, as reported by the company.

At the same time, the media group itself will work with TV3 Grupa brand.

The media group plans changes for the television channel’s portfolio, making content in accordance with interests of a specific audience. Additionally, LNT will no longer continue operating in its current form.

The company reports that All Media Baltics will expand television channel TV3 volume of news, transferring a portion of the content from LNT news service. The media group also plans to form a unified news service.

Starting next year, TV3 Mini channel will be created specifically for child audience. TV3 Life will be a channel tailored for women. New channels will replace LNT and Channel 2 in the media group’s television channel portfolio.

According to information from LETA, there will no longer be a TOP 10 of LNT news from next year onward. LNT programmes like 900 seconds and Degpunktā will remain.

It is planned that following reorganization the new platform will show 900 seconds programme at 06:00 AM, TV3 news digest at 18:00 PM, Bez Tabu programme at 19:10, TV3 news at 20:00 PM, Degpunktā at 20:35 PM. The news programme will conclude with Sports news at 20:55 and weather forecast at 20:58.

Also according to news from LETA, reorganization will also lay off about 30 employees.

Full article here


Lawyer: Rimšēvičs as member of ECB Council has immunity from criminal proceedings

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

ApsūdzētieThe accused Bank of Latvia governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs (L) and businessman Māris Martinsons (R)

Mārtiņš Kvēps, lawyer of the corruption-accused governor of Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, believes, as a member of the European Central Bank, his client has immunity from criminal proceedings, criminal prosecution and criminal charges. This is why on Monday, 4 November, Rimšēvičs’ defender decided to ask Riga District Court in Jurmala to turn to the European Court of Justice so that it can make a pre-judicial decision on this matter.

Kvēps justified his request by saying that in accordance with his client’s immunity, it is not possible to raise charges for actions related to his post in ECB. According to the defence, if the office of the prosecutor wants to raise charges against Rimšēvičs for such activities, they have to turn to the ECB with a request to revoke Rimšēvičs’ immunity. Kvēps also referenced reports from European Union Court of Justice advocate general in the case in which Rimšēvičs was restored in his post as governor of the Bank of Latvia. Kvēps interpreted the words of the advocate general as it was not possible to raise charges against Rimšēvičs,

Prosecutor Viorika Jirgena noted that the matter on the expansion of the term of immunity should not be asked to the European Court of Justice, because the moment the initial case was decided, the court has been able to evaluate any violations of Rimšēvičs’ criminal procedural rights, but this was not done.

Full article here


Latvian government supports creation of courts for economic affairs

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Latvia’s Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns

On Tuesday, 5 November, Latvia’s government supported Justice Ministry’s initiative to found a specialized economic affairs court, which could start working 1 January 2021.

Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens is against law amendments. He says development of regulations did not take into account objections from the Justice Council. Additionally, he says amendments will not resolve the problems the coalition is committed to fighting.

Interior affairs minister invites performing an audit of the justice sector prior to adopting new amendments.

«We have to perform an audit of the justice sector, assess all legislative acts and mistakes of the past to move forward. I want to wait for the audit first and only then start working on new legislative acts,» says Ģirģens. He also says the new regulation creates corruption risks.

Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns, on the other hand, says each reform has supporters and opponents, adding the law amendments were developed using audit results. At the same time, Bordāns stresses that corruption risks are mentioned to slow down creation of a new court.

Full article here


LTV: ex-LDz chairman’s paid compensation for leaving may reach quarter of a million

Aivars Strakšas, Edvīns Bērziņš, Jānis Lange, compensation, Latvian Railway, Panorāma, important

Edvīns Bērziņš

The compensation paid to ex-chairman of Latvian Railway (LDz) Edvīns Bērziņš and board member Aivars Štrakšas may reach EUR 250 000 and EUR 200 000, respectively, as reported by public broadcaster LTV programme Panorāma.

The declarations submitted to the State Revenue Service (VID) show that this year Bērziņš was paid by LDz EUR 341 910, whereas Strakšas was paid by the company EUR 286 330. Panorāma notes these amounts appeared after the two of them had submitted their declarations – amounts detailed in documents have increased by EUR 100 000 and EUR 50 000, respectively.

Bērziņš explained to public media that he had included in his declaration the compensation amount paid to him for leaving LDz.

Full article here


Z-Towers developer, construction office and Burovs go at each other over Twin Towers

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUZ-Towers project developers have turned to State Police and Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) over intentional delays with the building’s commissioning, as reported by AS Tower Construction Management commercial director Andžejs Neguliners.

He says the company has sent an official letter to State Police and KNAB, allowing for the possibility that some official or several are intentionally delaying the commissioning of the building in violation of their duties.

«Such behaviour is illegal, and we have done and will continue doing all we can to protect the rights and interests of taxpayers and international investors,» says Neguliners.

He stresses that over the course of the last several years the company has actively worked to assist with development of plans at meetings to make sure work of experts meets expectations for quality and compliance with international requirements.

«The voiced criticisms are baseless, which is something we have outlined in official letters to Riga City Council, the economy minister and Prime Minister. We have provided requested information in regular correspondence with Riga City Construction Office. This is why we and Riga’s Mayor Oļegs Burovs are confused over behaviour of the construction office,» comments Neguliners.

Tower Construction Management believes Riga City Council representative’s published letter is wasteful manipulation.

Full article here


Rail Baltica airport station’s construction may cost 250 – 280 million euros for Latvia

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RURailway project Rail Baltica station’s construction at Riga International Airport may cost around 250 – 280 million euros. The exact amount will be clarified soon – in the second stage of the construction tender, says Rail Baltica implementer in Latvia Eiropas dzelzceļa līnijas board chairman Kaspars Vingris.

«Rail Baltica project at Riga airport is unique because it is the first passenger railway station construction project since 1937, as well as the first railway ramp and 1 435 mm standard railway line project,» says Vingris.

He says the first level will include the entry point to the station’s building, the second level will include the waiting area and checkouts, as well as the connector with the developing airport expansion. The third level will include the passenger train station platform. It is also planned to build and access route to the airport’s cargo terminal.

The first stage of the tender was announced 3 November. The first stage includes selection of candidates which will conclude in January 2020. Then the candidates who pass the first stage will be asked to submit a financial and technical offer. The contract with chosen the chosen company is planned to be signed before the end of 2020. Construction work may commence in 2021.

Full article here


Child vaccination: Lithuanian legislators back mandatory vaccines

polio, measles, rubella, Lithuania, Seimas, vaccineIn Lithuania, legislation to make child vaccines against polio, measles and rubella mandatory has received the support of the Seimas in the first vote.

Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports on Thursday, November 7, that the bill, drafted by the Social Democratic faction, has cleared the first hurdle by one vote. To become a law, it will have to be endorsed by the government and voted on once more in the parliament.

«With the measles spreading in Lithuania, over 5,000 children remain non-vaccinated each year,» the bill’s authors say in the explanatory note.

According to them, 128 measles cases were registered in the country between January 1 and March 13 this year, a sharp increase from 30 cases reported throughout last year.

Full article here


Estonia to invest EUR 300 million in electrifying all rail network

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUEstonian state railway company Eesti Raudtee has voiced plans to build electric railway infrastructure on the entire 800-kilometre network would take seven years and 300 million euros to complete.

Estonia public broadcaster ERR reports on Tuesday, November 5, Estonia’s rail network currently is a combination of electric and diesel trains for both passengers and freight.

Head of Eesti Raudtee Erik Laidvee, explained that works should start in 2022 and electrifying the entire 800-km network would be complete by 2028.

Full article here

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Raimonds Vējonis elected as president of Latvian Basketball Association

On Tuesday, 21 January, former president of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis was elected president of Latvian Basketball Association, as reported by Latvian public media portal

Spain’s powerful storm turns tragic

In Spain, a powerful storm has brought flooding, low temperatures and violent winds to the country’s eastern coast, where four people died according to the BBC and local authorities.

Riga City Council opposition sees no reason to sign for Oļegs Burovs’ dismissal

Political parties representing the opposition in Riga City Council have no plans at the moment to start gathering signatures to have the city council’s chairman Oļegs Burovs dismissed, because they believe the Saeima will soon vote for the entire city council’s dismissal in the coming weeks, interviewed politicians admit.

Courts in Russian cities evacuated over bomb threats

In Russian cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, 11 courts have been evacuated after e-mailed bomb threats were received, Russian state news agency TASS reports. This far, the threats have been unsubstantiated

Minister: a wider range of candidates to lead State Police would benefit society

Having a wider range of potential contenders to lead Latvian State Police would be in society’s interests, said Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 21 January.

LZP regional faction urges talks to discuss splitting from ZZS

Latvian Green Party’s Cēsis faction believes the party should discuss the possibility of splitting from the Union of Greens and Farmers, as reported by newspaper Latvijas Avīze.

Swedbank predicts 2.2% economic growth for Latvia in 2020

Latvia’s national economic growth in 2020 will rely on private consumption. Overall growth is expected at 2.2%, according to Swedbank chief economist Liva Zorgenfreija.

U.S. impeachment court begins against Donald Trump

In the Senate of the U.S. Congress, the impeachment court is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 21, aimed at establishing whether or not U.S. President Donald Trump is guilty in charges related to his foreign policy on Ukraine.

IMF cuts global growth forecast to world economy in 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its economic growth forecast for world economy in 2020.

Climate-devoted Davos forum to host conflicting views of Thunberg and Trump

In Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum starts on Tuesday, January 21, with a focus on economic changes to turn to sustainability. Among the speakers there are U.S. President Donald Trump and Swedish climate voice Greta Thunberg.

Latvia commemorates journalists of the Barricades

«Every year on 20 January we gather at the Saeima to commemorate the Barricades of 1991 – the days of protection of Latvia’s freedom. Today all of Riga smells of barricade smoke, of freedom. I believe the fires of freedom lit in commemoration of this day will still be lit year after year from now. Most importantly we cannot let these fires die out in our memory,» said Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece in a speech addressed to journalists of the Barricades.

Even Jūlijs Krūmiņš’s penalty is not enough to pull state funding from ZZS

The fine enforced by the office of the prosecutor on businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš does not provide for terminating payment of state funding for the Union of Greens and Farmers, as reported by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Kariņš: coalition objects lowered requirements for State Police chief candidates

The ruling coalition in Latvia objects against lowered requirements for candidates who want to become the next chief of State Police, not the organization of a selection process, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš after a coalition meeting on Monday, 20 January.

Last year’s accomplishments in Latvia’s healthcare

In regards to the accomplishments in healthcare observed over the course of 2019, Latvian Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele mentioned the cancellation of the initially planned adoption of the two-basket healthcare system and the signing of the agreement for a transition period until 2021, as reported by Healthcare Ministry.

Estonian language inspectors ask Hesburger to translate its «drive-in» signs

Estonian language watchdog has required Finnish fast food chain Hesburger to translate its English language «drive-in» signs into Estonian as the current practice of the company violates the Language Law of the Baltic country.

Minister: Rebenoks is one of the winners of Latvenergo council members selection process

The decision regarding approval of the new Latvenergo council, to which is planned to delegate Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s advisor Pāvels Rebenoks, could be made by Economy Ministry’s state secretary, said Nemiro.

Railway freight volumes in Latvia drop 15.8% in 2019

When compared to 2018, railway freight volumes in Latvia had declined 15.8% in 2019. Total railway freight volumes reached 41.492 million tonnes, according to data from the Transport Ministry.

UN: Illegal for countries to send back climate refugees

UN Human Rights Committee has found that it is illegal for countries to send refugees to their home countries if their lives or welbeing is in danger at home.

18 589 thousand children born and 12 913 marriages signed in Latvia in 2019

In Latvia, birth number has been declining for four years in a row. 18 589 births were registered in 2019, which is 725 births fewer than in 2018.

Kaimiņš invites KPV LV to decide on party’s liquidation during congress

KPV LV does more bad than good for the country now and is beyond saving, said the party’s founder, Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš in an interview to Latvijas Radio, inviting members of the party to decide on its liquidation at the upcoming congress.

Krūmiņš and Raitums receive fines for illegal financing of ZZS and For Latvia from the Heart

At the end of 2019 Businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš and financial consultant associated with him Jorens Raitums both agreed to pay EUR 100 000 fine for using third parties to gather money for the Union of Greens and Farmers and For Latvia from the Heart, as reported by TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

Estonian producer price index decreased in 2019

Estonia’s producer price index of industrial output decreased from December 2018 to December 2019 by 1.2%, the country’s official statistical body Statistics Estonia estimated.

Justice Minister: Bičkovičs might pick prosecutor general candidate before amendments

Ivars Bičkovičs, chairman of the Supreme Court of Latvia, may be able to perform some manoeuvres to pick the most appropriate candidate for the post of prosecutor general before amendments aimed at changing the order candidates for the aforementioned position are picked come to force, said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview to newspaper Latvijas Avīze.

Estonian minister stresses immigration’s dominance in population growth

In Estonia, where statistics expect the 2019 to have been the fifth consecutive year of population growth, the Population Affairs Minister has pointed to current foreign immigration rate exceeding the country’s aim of foreign immigration.

Programme: minister wants state secretary gone over an objection

Prior to major changes in Latvenergo’s council and board, the company’s current supervisor and Economy Ministry’s state secretary Ēriks Eglītis may lose his post. It is worth mentioning that he objected to providing Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s once boss Pāvels Rebenoks an official post, as reported by TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

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