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Monday 21.10.2019 | Name days: Severīns, Urzula
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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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Estonian interest in third pillar pensions lowest in EU, study finds

In Estonia, the interest of consumers in free-of-choice pension funds, is the lowest as compared to other member states of the European Union, a study of Better Finance investor rights group found.

Lithuanian manufacturers worried about new U.S. tariffs

Lithuanian manufacturers have voiced concern over the indirect effects of U.S. import tariffs introduced last week on products such as pork, milk products and others.

One of Latvia’s most wanted suspects found

Police in Latvia have found – thanks to reports of fellow citizens – suspect Angeļina Sacjuka, who was wanted for a deadly attack on a woman, the State Police said. The crime she was wanted for could bring her a prison term of three to 15 years

LTV: Moscow suspected of seeking more power in Latvian Orthodox Church

The Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church may be attempting to force Metropolitan Alexander of the Latvian Orthodox Church to retire to replace him with more acceptable person to the Russian side, reported LTV’s programme De facto.

Latvia could crash out of Expo 2020 in Dubai, De facto says

Due to works being late, Latvia’s participation in the Expo 2020 world exhibition in Dubai has been put on hold. This would not be the first time of Latvians stopping preparations half-way to the global event, reports LTV programme De facto.

Latvia’s attitude to sexual minorities – one of most opposing in EU

An Eurobarobeter study says that the attitude of people in Latvia to sexual minorities is one of the most opposing in the European Union.

UK’s battle to get Brexit done could go either way this week

In the British parliament, a tough battle is expected over the latest Brexit agreement with the European Union: the government will push for its ratification, while opposition will seek allies for the government to agree to amend or to reject it altogether.

Tragic Siberia dam collapse investigated in Russia

Russia has launched a criminal investigation into the death of 15 people at a dam collapse on River Seiba in Siberia. The tragedy has taken place at a remote site of a goldmining company.

Week in Lithuania: Grybauskaitė invited to think tank, push for 2nd vote on Speaker

Last week in Lithuania ex-President invited to join think tank, LFGU sought 2nd vote on Speaker’s removal, court reduced pro-Russian Councillor’s fine, and Order and Justice leader was urged to step down.

BNN summary of the week: Unexpected millions. Non-citizen children

This week, large money sparked an international debate. A Latvian court determined that 29 million euros, currently in the accounts of a non-resident at the Reģionālā investīciju banka, have been acquired criminally and ruled that they have to be transferred to the state budget.

Ventspils rushes to extend Lembergs’ mandate in freeport

The Ventspils City Council has summoned an emergency sitting to decide on the extension of the mandate in the board of the Ventspils Freeport Administration to suspended Mayor Aivars Lembergs, as well as Jānis Vītolņš, Didzis Ošenieks and Guntis Blumbergs, according to information seen by the BNN.

Estonian pension reform expected later in 2019

The pension reform of Estonia should be adopted later this year to start it in 2021, believes Estonian Social Affairs Minister, who has pointed out that the country’s ruling coalition has reached an agreement on the core issues of the reform.

Latvian minister: Less than half of Latvian nationals in UK have applied for residence

Latvian nationals in the UK should take into consideration different scenarios possible after Brexit and to protect themselves they should register their place of permanent residence with the British Home Office, said the Latvian Foreign Minister to Latvijas Radio.

Verdict in Latvenergo bribery case enters into force with prison sentences

A Latvian court ruling in one of the bribe-taking cases of state energy producer Latvenergo has entered into force. According to the verdict, prison sentences have been given to Latvenergo’s former vice-president, its former director of production and the head of the firm Energy Consulting.

Latvian football loses its head as Gorkšs ousted from federation chair

The turbulent Latvian Football Federation (LFF) has voted in an emergency meeting to remove its president Kaspars Gorkšs from office.

Latvian top companies by value – Latvenergo and Latvijas valsts meži

Energy producer Latvenergo, forestry company Latvijas valsts meži and computer network equipment maker Mikrotīkls had topped the list of the Top 101 Latvian companies, compiled annually by Nasdaq Riga and Prudentia.

Turkey agrees to pause its intervention in Syria for five days

Turkey, Kurdish SDF forces and the U.S. have reached an agreement to introduce a five-day ceasefire to allow Kurdish forces to retreat from the Turkish-Syrian border.

High-ranking Latvian policeman detained over bribery

The Latvian Internal Security Bureau (IDB) has detained on suspicion of bribery three persons: the deputy chief of the Public Order Police Bureau of the Latgale Regional Administration of the State police and two private individuals, including one former policeman.

Saeima greenlights opening of regional gas market

The Latvian Saeima has on Thursday, October 17, adopted amendments aimed at removing obstacles to the creation of a regional gas market and ensuring the functioning of the joint Latvian, Finnish and Estonian tariff system from January 1, 2020.

Lithuanian President Nausėda‘s 100 days in office: nothing messed up, communication improved

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda is marking this week the first hundred days of presidency. Both his supporters and ready-to-bite analysts agree than he has not messed up things, although some frown at his conformity with the Farmers and Greens Union-orchestrated Seimas and the Government.

Fragile, new Brexit deal reached between EU and UK

In the European Union’s negotiations on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a new agreement has been reached on the day a decisive EU summit commenced in Brussels.

Court proceedings of Lembergs could restart only in 2020

The Riga Regional Court ruled on Thursday, October 17, that the lawyer of criminally-accused Latvian politician Aivars Lembergs has been given until January 2020 to read the materials of the case.

Latvia decides: Non-citizen children to receive citizenship from 2020

The Latvian parliament passed in the final reading on Thursday, October 17, the draft law that sets forth granting citizenship to new-born children of the non-citizens of Latvia.

Drugstores should focus on health care over money-making, Estonian Minister says

As Estonia is working on a pharmacy regulation reform aimed at reducing the influence of drug wholesalers on pharmacies, Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik has said pharmacy services ought to be focused on healthcare instead of business.

Confiscated EUR 29 mln: Latvia waiting for evidence from Ukraine

As Ukraine seeks to recover from Latvia 29 million euros that have been confiscated by a Latvian court, Ukraine has to provide evidence as it has promised to do, according to Latvian President Egils Levits.