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Monday 24.09.2018 | Name days: Agris, Agrita
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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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PHOTO: Pope Francis visits Riga Cathedral and meets seniors at St Jacob’s Cathedral

Pope Francis visited both Riga Castle and Riga Cathedral, where a service was held under his supervision. There he met with different Latvian officials. After that, the pope met with senior citizens at St Jacob’s cathedral.

Pope Francis arrives in Latvia for an official visit

Pope Francis arrived in Latvia on Monday, 24 September. He was greeted at the airport by President Raimonds Vējonis, Archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevičs and other public figures.

Week in Lithuania. President proposes amendments to restrict bailiffs' remuneration

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is putting forward amendments aimed at restricting bailiffs' financial remuneration to up to 15 per cent of the amount recovered.

BNN summary of the week: pre-election heat, rule of law in Latvia, Baltics prepare for Pope’s visit

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Elections; Change; Stagnation; Fight; Visit; Investigation.

Court reschedules viewing of criminal case due to Non-citizens Congress leader’s poor health

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court announced today that the viewing of the criminal case in which leader of Non-citizens Congress Aleksandrs Gapoņenko is accused of inciting national hate will be postponed to a later date.

Producer prices in industry up 1.0% in Latvia in August

Compared to July, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 1.0 % in August 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.9 %, but of exported products – went up by 0.1 %.

Bishop: priest suspected of sexual abuse to be operated on in hospital

Pāvels Zeiļa, who is a priest of Rezekne Aglona diocese and the suspect in the criminal case regarding sexual violence and human trafficking, will undergo a complicated surgery on Friday, 21 September, as reported by Bishop Jānis Bulis.

Study: residents withdraw money from ATMs less often but in larger amounts

Every now and then discussions about dropping cash money altogether become active in society, AS PrivatBank representatives say.

HND Grupa design company, involved in Zolitude tragery, declared insolvent

Building engineer Ivars Sergets company HND Grupa, which was involved in the case revolving around the Maxima supermarket that collapsed in Zolitude, killing 54, not five years ago, has been declared insolvent, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service suspected of misappropriation

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry’s Internal Security Bureau has detained deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Ints Sēlis and one other official – a senior inspector, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

Washington sanctions China for buying Russian military equipment

U.S. government has introduces sanctions against the Chinese army over a purchase of fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, despite a U.S. sanctions law targeting Moscow for attempts to sway in the 2016 U.S. election.

Autumn expected to begin soon in Latvia

Friday, 21 September, is expected to be warm in Latvia. Sun and considerable amount of clouds are expected, but not precipitation. Wind will draw in from the south, reaching a speed of 15-17 m/sec in western and central regions, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Brexit: a finish line with no end in sight

Less than 200 days are left before Britain officially leaves the European Union. The state of the agreement between Britain and EU only serves to create more chaos, from which neither Britain nor EU, or even Latvia will benefit.

EU underlines to London: No-deal Brexit also option

European Union's top officials and member state leaders planned to push for a Brexit deal in October, while urging London to give ground on the issues trade and the Irish border by November, to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Lithuanian PM, a presumable presidential hopeful, set to curb grocery price growth

Having chastised food retailers on many occasions for high grocery prices, Saulius Skvernelis, the Lithuanian Prime Minister, stepped forward in the bid to harness local supermarkets. The presumed presidential candidate of the ruling Farmers and Greens (LVŽS) has summoned this week executives of major retail food chains, scolded them and reaffirmed his pledge to rein in the edging up prices.

Industrial prices in Estonia – up by 3.4% on year

The industrial price index in Estonia has risen from August 2017 to August this year by 3.4%, official statistics show.

Latvian parliament approves transition to competence-based approach in education content

On Thursday, 20 September, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the Education Law, necessary for the gradual introduction of competence-based approach in education materials.

Latvian Saeima wants to disallow shareholders to work in company management board

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima approved in the first reading amendments to the Credit Institutions Law that provide for multiple measures to enhance Latvia’s finance system and its long-term stability, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Aglone Council prohibits residents from organizing protests during Pope Francis’ visit

A protest against the Catholic Church’s ban on abortions and expression of shock in relation to the recent sex scandals involving Catholic priests was planned to take place in Aglone during Pope Francis’ visit, but the city council decided to disallow them.

Latvian parliament conceptual supports pension bonus indexation

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima supported in the first reading several initiatives for a more rapid pension climb for several groups of pensioners, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Majority Saeima deputies support open president vote; UGF members fail to decide unanimously

On Thursday, 20 September, amendments to the Constitution regarding open election of the state president were approved in the second reading.

Four Estonian parties have strong support, enough to enter Riigikogu

Four Estonian parties are believed to currently have enough support to enter the Estonian parliament, a broad opinion poll showed, as leading parties compete for voter backing.

Vitol Group concerned over state of rule of law in Latvia; turns to state officials

One of the largest energy resource traders in the world – Vitol Group – has sent a letter to Latvia’s highest ranking officials, expressing deep concern over the rule of law and application of legislative acts in the litigation between LatRosTrans and Polocktransneft Druzba over the EUR 66 million worth technological oil.

As Pope heads to Baltics, more attention to Catholic sex abuse

The time, when Roman Catholic Pope Francis is set to visit the Baltics, greatly differs from the visit by Saint John Paul II in 1993. There is public resentment over the countries spending several million euros to host the trip of the pontiff and the Catholic sex abuse scandals are topic of discussion.

Officials asked to take responsibility for misuse of state resources

If misuse of state resources takes place, officials have to take responsibility and pay for the damages caused to the state, says Public Expenditure and Audit Committee chairman Andris Bērziņš.