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Monday 20.05.2019 | Name days: Venta, Salvis, Selva
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BNN summary of the week: promises from Latvia’s coalition and citizens’ rights after Brexit

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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: Promises; Brexit; Conflict; Opinion; Health; Decline.

PROMISES: Latvia’s forming coalition promises to be more open to opposition

The forming coalition in Latvia may consider proposals from the opposition and even support the more constructive of them, said prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 17 January.

The politician said parties have agreed on a cooperation agreement. However, the document still requires some corrections. So far politicians have also agreed on the fiscal discipline agreement.

Previously coalition parties often rejected everything submitted by opposition parties. Now, however, potential partners have reached an agreement in regards to considering proposals from the opposition, explains Kariņš.

It will be necessary to separate constructive initiatives from less constructive ones, said the prime minister candidate, adding that this could be done during cooperation meetings.

Full article here

BREXIT: Latvian government prepares legislation to protect rights of Latvian in Britain after Brexit

Latvian government has started working on a document that provides for the protection of rights of Latvian citizens working in Britain and vice versa after Brexit, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

«We will develop a document that will ensure the same rights for British citizens that live and work in Latvia and Latvian citizens that live and work in Britain after Brexit,» said the minister.

He adds that this short political document is in early stages of preparation. Discussions regarding its approval with the Saeima are only planned at this stage, which is largely because of the lack of a new government. ‘I would refrain from giving specific dates, because we still have more than two months before 29 March, when Britain is set to leave the EU,’ said the politician.

«It is still unclear for us what Britain may do in the next three days. However, we believe this political commitment would help both sides help their citizens,» stresses Rinkēvičs, adding that Britain has been rather adequate towards Latvia’s interests and status of its citizens.

All that is left now is to wait for the British government to take action, and scenarios are different, said the minister. «Depending on the decisions, our reaction will follow,» adds the minister, stressing that the next steps may come not after the no-confidence vote against British Prime Minister Theresa May, but rather after 21 January, when the British government is expected to present future solutions.

Full article here

CONFLICT: Russia will definitely interfere with European Parliament elections

According to Latvian member of the European Parliament Inese Vaidere, Russia will definitely attempt to interfere with upcoming European Parliament elections.

The politician believes it is no surprise that Russia’s goal is creating chaos and discord among EU member states. «I would be better if Russia instead decided to sort out its economy and become a trusty trade partner and neighbour. However, over and over again we see the ‘old KGB methods’ – pitting countries against one another and using the divide and conquer principle,» says the MEP.

She adds the possibility of fake news cannot be excluded completely even though EP and society are now better prepared to combat such news. «The ‘dark side’ is not idle, and has come up with new ways to mislead people. One such method is calling Latvia a failed state,» adds Vaidere.

According to the MEP, Russia will use different ways to put left-wing and ultra-right powers in the European Parliament to make sure the parliament’s work is not constructive, as well as make it mired in secret interests and mutual fights. This is why Vaidere stresses it is necessary to show people the truth before elections.

As one major flaw, she mentioned the failure to create a Russian European television channel. According to Vaidere, creating a separate Russian television channel is too expensive for EU countries. A unified television channel needs very good content – movies, shows and other content – to convince people to watch, said the politician.

Full article here

OPINION: Is polygamy the answer for Latvia? «Demographic affairs expert» Parādnieks is the man for the job!

The government formation process in Latvia is progressing slowly and painfully. It is as though a ship without navigation – Latvia has yet to find its way in the ocean of political roads. And this ocean I full of «icebergs» Latvia keeps bumping against. The latest one is National Alliance’s official candidate, an «expert» at resolving demographic problems Imants Parādnieks.

The biggest objections voiced so far are not about the possible formation of a new ministry but, rather, the potential candidate his party is trying to push for this post.

It is worth mentioning that prime minister candidate Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš has proposed forming a demographic affairs ministry. The National Alliance, likely fearing the possibility of losing its position «at the helm», is convinced that a new minister’s post is needed. On top of it, the party thinks Parādnieks is the best candidate for the job.

There is an opinion that the decision to pick Parādnieks for the post of welfare minister was very odd for NA chairman Raivis Dzintars because as a member of a conservative party, Parādnieks and his polygamous lifestyle do not represent the party’s values all that well, to put it mildly. However, even though Parādnieks was not elected to the 13th Saeima, Dzintars continues pushing him for high posts, making him out to be «a national expert in demographic affairs».

This causes an avalanche of questions as to how a political party that stands with conservative and traditional family values is able to push a person on record of having publicly said that «loving two women is no easy task»? Being married to one woman and having an affair with another – is this the kind of demographic ‘solution’ the party wants to cultivate by picking Parādnieks?

Full article here

HEALTH: New healthcare service principle’s adoption in Latvia postponed until July

The rights to receive healthcare services as part of state compulsory healthcare regardless of their health insurance contributions will remain available for residents until 30 June 2019, Latvian Saeima has decided.

On Thursday, 17 January, the parliament approved amendments to Healthcare Financing Law in two readings, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

«The new information system was supposed start working at the beginning of 2019. However, this was not the case. We’ve all seen this fiasco. Doctors still don’ know about the amount of services their patients are eligible to receive. This was yet another blow for the e-health system’s reputation,» says chairman of Saeima’s Social and Employment Affairs Committee Andris Skride.

According to him, the legislator has provided more than enough time for this system’s technical implementation. Postponing the reform also gives time for the new government to voice its position in regards to state compulsory healthcare insurance and motivate members of the government to act. The committee also mentioned a proposal to expand the range of residents who are eligible for a full range of state-funded services. Deputies plan to address this matter in the next couple of months, admits Skride.

Full article here

DECLINE: 150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

Estonian state energy giant Eesti Energia, which mostly generates energy from fossil oil shale plants will reduce its operations at the Narva power plants, resulting in 150 job cuts.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Thursday, January 17, that some older electricity generation blocks have to be decommissioned in line with requirements of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive and leading to the proportion of electricity generated from oil shale burning will fall, and with it oil shale mining being reduced.

«The Narva power plants have a total of four energy blocks that are limited in time to the end of the working life of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive. (..) The exact timescale for this depends on the electricity market and the situation with the CO2 emissions regulations,» informed Raine Pajo, Eesti Energia board member.

Full article here


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Estonia investigates electricity blackout in Russian border city

In Estonia, an investigation has been opened into a power blackout that took place in the north-eastern border city of Narva and other places in the region.

Latvia’s Saeima to pick a new state president after EP elections

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Study: packaging convenience still trumps environment friendliness

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Harmony reportedly used RTDB to hire foreign political communication specialists

Latvian investigators have acquired documents that reveal how prior to 13th Saeima elections Riga Tourism Development Bureau (RTDB), which receives funding from Riga’s budget, had performed at least ten money transfers to several political communication experts from Germany, Sweden and Spain, as reported by public broadcaster TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

Ukraine’s Zelensky starts presidency with dissolution of parliament

Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky has been sworn in Kyiv on Monday and in his inaugural speech has announced the dissolution of the Ukrainian parliament.

Austria heading to snap election after right-wing coalition collapses

Austrian political leaders are favouring calling a snap election after the government coalition in Vienna collapsed over alleged influence peddling by Vice-Chancellor.

Egypt bomb attack hits tourist bus

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Latvian Railways reportedly wastes money with self-promotion in sports; UGF might be involved

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In spite of heavy rains, air temperature in Latvia will reach +29° C this week

The sky will be cloudy at the beginning of this week in Latvia. Nevertheless, it will clear from time to time. As the sky clears, daytime air temperature will reach +24° C… +29° C, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania: PM clears no-confidence vote, top Court slaps LFGU, councillor fined for slander

Last week, Lithuania suffered upset in 2019 Eurovision Song Contest; PM Saulius Skvernelis survived a vote of no-confidence by the ruling LFGU; the Constitutional Court ruled that the Seimas breached law in dealing with public broadcaster LRT.

BNN summary of the week: shadow over Latvia's economy; Kalnmeiers receives bashing

The week passed in Latvia under certain unpleasant news. A study concluded that in spite of Union of Green and Farmers minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola’s praised tax reform the grey economy proportion in Latvia has increased.

Regional Ventas Balss newspaper’s editor punished for reporting false news

On 17 May, Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court found Ventas Balss newspaper’s editor Gundega Mertena guilty of reporting false news in the article «Material 'Confession of Lembergs’ troll' is a 100% made-up story», which was published on pietiek.com portal on23 September 2018.

Court enforces 1 000 euros from Ušakovs for Riga City Council deputy

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has declined suspended Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs plea against Riga City Council deputy Vilnis Ķirsis over supposedly offensive statements the latter made against the plaintiff.

Latvian minister proposes re-assessing prosecutor general’s professionalism

Latvia’s Justice Ministry has noticed signs that suggest Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers is not fit to remain in his post, as there are suspicions regarding his reputation, Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told journalists on 17 May.

Estonia’s Nordica ended 2018 with EUR 2 million in losses

Estonia’s national air carrier registered considerable losses in 2018, reaching EUR 2,3 million in unconsolidated losses.

U.S.-pardoned whistle-blower Manning sent back to prison

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Privatization Agency: Latvian Railways chairman is baselessly speculating about privatization

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International police effort dismantles GozNym gang of cyber criminals

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Prediction: Latvia’s new concert hall will recover investments in 15 years

In the first 15 years after construction of Latvia’s new National Acoustic Concert Hall it will earn Latvia’s national economy a total of EUR 107.6 million, fully compensating investments and creating additional profits of EUR 17.6 million.

Poland fights child abuse with prison sentences up to 30 years

Polish legislators have extended prison terms for convicted paedophiles to a maximum 30 years. The Catholic country’s child abuse scandals have been underscored by a new documentary on such crimes by Polish priests.

Money intended for child protection used instead to pay bonuses to officials in Latvia

Welfare Ministry’s allocated state budget funding of EUR 619 000 was used, among other things, to pay bonuses to officials for obvious everyday tasks even though initially it was implied that employees of the ministry and State Child Protection Inspectorate (SCPI) would perform some specific tasks to prevent child and family abuse.

Meteorologists promise air temperature will soon reach +26° C in Latvia

On Friday, 17 May, there will be plenty of sun and clouds. Western regions may experience some rainfall. Wind will draw in from the east, reaching 13 m/sec in Kurzeme, as reported by Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Construction commences in Estonian-Latvian 3rd interconnection project

By raising the first supports of the new high-voltage Estonian-Latvian 3rd interconnection, Latvia’s Augstsprieguma tīkls (AST) has commenced the next step in the high-voltage power line project for a new 330 kV power line from Riga TEC-2 all the way to Kilingi-Nõmme substation in Estonia, as confirmed by AST.

Riga Tourism Development Bureau may have caused damages worth EUR 300 000

As a result of criminal activities Riga Tourism Development Bureau has caused damages worth no less than EUR 300 000, according to initial estimates.

Tribunal of European «Islamic State» fighters to be discussed in Sweden

Seeking an international tribunal of the fighters of the «Islamic State» terrorist group following its defeat in Syria, Sweden has invited other European countries to discuss ways to persecute fighters from Europe.