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Monday 18.02.2019 | Name days: Kintija, Kora
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BNN summary of the week: raiderism at Olainfarm, KGB files before elections and UGF tests voters’ patience

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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: Change; Invitation; Growth; Progress; Deal; Fight.

CHANGE: Will residents see «KGB records» before elections? Saeima supports publication of KGB papers in 2018

On Wednesday, 12 September, Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee supported in the second reading publication of KGB archive documents on the internet in 2018.

Publication will also include KGB agents’ telephone books, which contain information about in-house and freelance agents. All materials will be published on the website of Latvia’s National Archive.

Publication of other KGB documents will follow after 1 May 2019.

Constitution Protection Bureau’s Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism and the National Archive will have three weeks to prepare approximately 10,000 cards for digitization and upload in PDF format. It is planned to publish archive cards on the internet this year.

Full article here

INVITATION: Ex-corruption watchdog invites prosecutor to publish phone conversation between Emsis and Kļaviņš

Riga City Council opposition deputy and former deputy chief of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau Juta Strīķe invites the prosecutor general to publish the full transcript of the telephone conversation that happened between former prime minister Indulis Emsis and Askolds Kļaviņš, who is accused of abuse of power.

In response to the prosecutor general’s Wednesday’s interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT, Strīķe wrote on Facebook that during the interview Kalnmeiers had cited parts of the telephone conversation that took place between Emsis and Kļaviņš, saying that the two discussed the planned criminal process.

«Kalnmeiers claimed that this conversation did not result in the leak of information regarding the criminal process,» said Strīķe. She believes Kalnmeiers had taken statements out of context, because in reality the citation provided by him was actually about the plans to request Saeima’s permission to perform a search in Kļaviņš’s office and home.

In her statement, Strīķe stressed that the part of the conversation in which ex-prime minister told Kļaviņš about the criminal case and that this information was provided to him by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis was intentionally left out by Kalnmeiers from the interview.

Because of that, Strīķe invites Kalnmeiers to publish the entire transcript of the conversation between Emsis and Kļaviņš.

Prosecutor general’s press-secretary Aiga Eiduka says that the Criminal Law includes a prohibition on disclosing information acquired during pre-trial investigation. As for publication of transcripts of telephone conversations – Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has the right to make decisions there.

Disclosure of parts of the telephone conversation was coordinated in advance with CPCB.

Full article here

GROWTH: Getliņi EKO wants to borrow EUR 800,000 to re-cultivate old waste hill

Getliņi landfill management company Getliņi EKO has made an open call to borrow EUR 800,000 in order to finance the re-cultivation of an old waste hill and plans to build a bio-mass processing plant, says Getliņi EKO public relations specialist Linda Vītola-Barānova.

She says the company plans to finance the waste hill’s re-cultivation by attracting lenders. The loan is planned to be repaid within eight years.

Information from the Procurement Monitoring Bureau shows that contenders should submit proposals by 16 October.

SIA Getliņi EKO has plans to clean up the territory to make sure next year it is possible to start construction of a bio-mass processing plant.

Full article here

PROGRESS: Vote on open election of state president progresses – draft supported for 2nd reading

On Thursday, 13 September, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported for the second reading amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia that provide for election of the state president through an open vote by the Saeima, as confirmed by the parliament’s press-service.

Currently the Constitution states that Latvia’s president is elected with votes from no fewer than 51 members of the Saeima. The vote itself takes place behind closed doors. To improve society’s trust in the Saeima, it is necessary to provide transparency of its work. The vote to elect the state president is the only closed vote the Saeima has, authors of the legislative draft stated in the annotation.

As previously mentioned by the committee’s head Gaidis Bērziņš, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee intends to push amendments to the Constitution before elections if enough support is received from deputies.

Full article here

DEAL: Blackstone foundation becomes Luminor Bank’s strategic investor

Blackstone Group L.P investment fund has become the strategic investor for Luminor Bank. This fund’s investment is EUR 1 billion, as reported by the bank.

As part of the deal, Blackstone will purchase 60% of Luminor Bank’s shares and become a majority shareholder alongside Nordea Bank and DNB Bank ASA, which own 20% each. At the same time, Blackstone and Nordea Bank have signed an additional deal on the sale of Nordea’s 20% of shares in Luminor Bank in the next twelve months.

It is planned to follow up on this deal in the first half of 2019, after receiving approval from European Central Bank and local supervisory institutions.

Luminor Group council chairman Nils Melngailis said that Blackstone is the world’s leading partner in the management of transformation of large companies.

According to him, Blackstone’s participation will ensure gradual growth for the bank, as well as introduce world standards and knowledge in customer service to accomplish Luminor’s goal – become an independent financial services group in the Baltic region.

Full article here

FIGHT: Latvian authorities asked to commence criminal process on raiderism at Olainfarm

Signe Baldere-Sildedze, guardian of former Olainfarm owner Valerijs Maligins’ youngest daughter Anna Emīlija Maligina, and Maligins’ other daughter Nika Saveļjeva have turned to law enforcement institutions with a request to commence a criminal process in relation to acts of raiderism, abuse of official power and fraud.

The application mentions a request to protect Olainfarm’s, its shareholders’ and heirs’ interests because events of the last several days demonstrated that there are clear intentions of certain people to forcefully take over this company.

«Through illegal means people with questionable reputation and criminal past have ended up in the management of Olainfarm. They do not hide their intentions to use corrupt means to influence courts and investigative institutions. There are reasons to believe the goal of this take-over is robbing the company of its assets in favour of some third party for a price lower than assets’ market value,» as mentioned in the application submitted by Baldere-Sildedze and Saveļjeva.

They also mention that as a result of his hostile take-over, Olainfarm may be robbed of its finances, causing considerable damage to all shareholders and putting at risk the company’s future, something all members of the company’s council and board are personally responsible for.

In their application, Baldere-Sildedze and Saveļjeva ask authorities to commence a criminal process against an organized group.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania to hold referendum on reducing number of MPs

A referendum on reducing the number of lawmakers to 121 from the existing 141 will be held on May 12 alongside the presidential election in Lithuania, the country's parliament has decided after 58 lawmakers voted in favour on Thursday, February 14, 42 were against and two abstained.

Latvian President: All should acknowledge constitutional values as their own

At the anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, President Raimonds Vējonis, urged everyone in Latvia «to acknowledge the values of the Constitution as one's own and be ready to stand for the basic law both in big issues and in aspects of daily life».

Court rules EUR 200 thousand bail for criminal suspect of Riga transport firm

A court in the Latvian capital has set at 200 000 euros the bail money for ex-board chairman of the Riga public transport company Rīgas satiksme, who is a suspect in the criminal case over possible corrupt procurement dealings at the municipal firm.

Grave terror attack shakes Kashmir, conflict region of India, Pakistan

A terror attack has taken place in the disputed region of Kashmir, a long source of argument between India and Pakistan, taking the lives of 44 people.

British parliament rejects government's approach to Brexit talks

As the government of the United Kingdom sought the backing of the British Parliament to its strategy for the remaining weeks of Brexit talks with the European Union, a motion endorsing the government's strategy was rejected with a majority of 45 votes.

Lithuanian lawmakers set to backtrack on «Norwegian-type» child welfare protection

The Lithuanian lawmakers have sent this week a mixed message on their resolve to root out child abuse in Lithuanian families. As the MPs backtracked from the stringent Norwegian-type child welfare protection law to a more lenient one, not-criminalizing corporal punishment in certain cases, some experts warn that the reverse can trigger a spike of child abuse cases.

Drivers warned in Latvia as roads slippery in warmer temperatures

Black frost is hampering driving on Latvia's main and regional roads. The road administration body Latvijas Valsts ceļi (LVC) says that maintenance teams are covering the roads with antiskid materials and advises drivers to be very careful.

Programmer, physiotherapist and pilot – top professions on Latvian Job Shadow Day

The Job Shadow Day 2019 was held on February 13 in Latvia and the professions of programmer, physiotherapist and pilot were the most attractive as 1 545 companies offered the chance to follow working specialists throughout the day, according to the data by Junior Achievement Latvia.

Macedonia starts name-change from signs to currency, passports

Macedonia's official gazette has published the name-change agreement, launching a campaign of renaming the country as North Macedonia and allowing for its accession to NATO and eventually the European Union.

Dozens of British ex-ambassadors call for delay of Brexit

A group of over 40 British ex-ambassadors have urged the country's Prime Minister Theresa May to delay the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, British media report.

Port of Ventspils sees 40% boost in cargo turnover on year

Cargo turnover at the Freeport of Ventspils has in January 2019, compared to the respective month in 2018, jumped by 40.12% or 593 tonns, according to data from the Port Administration.

New CEO of Rail Baltic project is Finnish railway executive Riihimäki

To advance the pan-Baltic railway project, the Supervisory Board of RB Rail AS has appointed Timo Riihimäki as Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Management Board of the Rail Baltica Joint Venture.

Latvian PM sees no chance no significantly raise teacher salaries in 2019

Despite promises to teachers made by the previous government, Latvia is currently unable to significantly raise the wages of teachers, because it would require either increasing the budget deficit or higher taxes, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has told on Wednesday, in an interview with LNT's programme 900 sekundes.

Estonian startups attract EUR 328 million in 2018

The Estonian startup sector has in 2018 attracted combined investments of 328 million euros with Taxify, Pipedirve and Monese being the top performers, according to calculations by Startup Estonia.

U.S. sees power vacuum in Eastern Europe as exploited by Russia, China

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo evaluated that in Eastern Europe, China and Russia endanger the democratic and free-market gains made since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 by the means of predatory investment and political meddling.

Ukraine peace agreement not fulfilled, UN finds

The Minsk peace accord of 2015 stands unimplemented in eastern Ukraine as over 3,300 people have been killed and 1.5 million people displaced in the five-year conflict, U.N. officials stated.

Latvian conductor Nelsons wins Grammies in U.S.

Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons has added two Grammy music awards to his list of honours for the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. At the Grammy music awards ceremony in the U.S. on Sunday, February 10, the Latvian won the prize for the best orchestral performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the record Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4&11.

Riga Mayor survives another no-confidence vote

The embattled Mayor Riga Nils Ušakovs has survived a vote of no-confidence as the opposition parties criticised him over corruption scandals involving the Riga City Council.

Justice Minister: Justice does exist in Latvia, but it's selective

«I'm in politics precisely, because as a citizen and a lawyer, I wasn't satisfied with the influence on the court and political system from people, operating outside these spheres. To my mind, this influence is the reason of long trials in Latvia. Another problem is the lack of specialists, who could solve economic crimes – if politicians would be very interested in this, many cases would have been solved over the past ten years. There are two options: there have either been unprofessional politicians, or they have been interested in having the situation remain the way it was,» said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview with the BNN.

Spain starts historic trial against Catalan independence figures

Spain is beginning court proceedings against 12 leaders of the region of Catalonia for their role in the region's independence referendum and the subsequent declaration of separation from Spain.

Estonia convicts ex-army officer, his father for treason

A court in Tallinn has convicted ex-officer of the Estonian Defence Forces, Deniss Metsavas, his father for state treason, finding them guilty of selling state secrets to Russian intelligence.

Troubles continue in Latvian anti-establishment party KPV LV

In the Latvian anti-establishment party KPV LV, Saeima member Linda Liepiņa has decided to leave the post of the party's Co-chairperson and member of the board.

Thaw and warm temperatures expected in Latvia this week

The weather in Latvia, in the first part of the week will be mostly warm for winter-time and precipitation in the form of rain and wet snow can be expected, according to a weekly forecast from the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Defence Minister: Deployment of allied missiles in Latvia is «dreaming»

The issue of the deployment of the missiles of allied forces in Latvia is far from being relevant, «it's dreaming», commented Latvian Defence Minister on Monday, February 11, in an interview with LTV's news programme Rīta panorāma

Hungary' s mothers of four to be exempt from paying income tax

In Hungary, the government is boosting financial support to families with several children, according to measures presented by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. On Sunday, February 10, the significant measures announced by Viktor Orbán during an annual address, encouraging women to have more children.

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