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Ceturtdiena 21.11.2019 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte

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

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

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.

Having heard the news, many politicians showed interest in using it for necessary investments. Latvian Prime Minister (New Unity) said that the decision on using the money should be made by the government. To his mind, it would be most appropriate to use it in a one-off infrastructure investment. Meanwhile, Ukraine, with its President visiting Latvia this week, has voiced its interest in the money noting that it had been linked to former high-ranking Ukrainian officials.

The Latvian parliament made last week a historic decision: to end from the year 2020 granting the status of a non-citizen to children born to non-citizen parents and to grant the new-borns Latvian citizenship if the parents do not object to it.

The BNN provides a summary of the key news stories of this week told in the topics of: Unexpected millions, Non-citizen children, Ousted president, Municipality reform, Strike, Subsidies, Pension reform, Another pause and Fire.


Confiscated EUR 29 mln: Latvia waiting for evidence from Ukraine

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Latvian and Ukrainian Presidents

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.

The Latvian President met with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy and discussed the matter on Wednesday, October 16.

«There is an agreement with Ukraine that it would provide the respective evidence. I think that this issue will be solved,» said Levits. He added that the Latvian court proceedings, as part of which the money has been confiscated, have not been finished yet.

Read more here.


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

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

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.

The draft law was supported by 60 members of the Saeima out of the total of 100.

Read more here.


Latvian football loses its head as Gorkšs ousted from federation chair

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

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

After a series of poor international results by the Latvian national football team, the decision was passed on Thursday, October 17, with 67 of a total of 129 votes going against Gorkšs, a former captain of the national team and a former British League One defender.

Read more here.


Government decides: Latvia will have 39 municipalities

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The Latvian government has backed the draft Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Places that sets forth cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 39.

According to the draft law, after the reform, the Baltic state would have 34 municipalities of populated places and rural territories called ‘novadi’ and cities of republican significance: Riga, Jūrmala, Daugavpils, Liepāja and Rēzekne.

Read more here.


Latvian medical workers to hold unprecedented protests against funding cuts

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

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has decided to hold protests it calls unprecedented against state budget plans that would result in reduced funding for health care, according to the LVSADA Council.

The trade union announced that its planned protests would be widespread, would include a warning strike, a march and rally in combination with a claim in the Latvian Constitutional Court.

Read more here.


Rīgas satiksme expects profits, yet asks EUR 140 mln from Riga budget

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Interim board chairman of Rīgas satiksme Ernests Saulītis

Rīgas satiksme, the municipal transport company plans to end the year 2019 with a 1.3-million-euro profit, and yet it will request a large subsidy from the Latvian capital for 2020 as well, says the company’s interim board chairman Ernests Saulītis.

The scandal-plagued transport company asked for the year 2019 a subsidy of 139 million euros, but was allocated 130 million euros. In 2018 and 2017, it received 131 million euros and 122 million euros, respectively.

Read more here.


Court proceedings of Lembergs could restart only in 2020

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

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

The court explained that the criminal department of the Riga Regional Court evaluated the volume of case materials lawyer Genādijs Ivankins is yet to read, in order to prepare his speech for debates, decided to give him time until January 12, 2020.

Read more here.


Estonian pension reform expected later in 2019

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

Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik

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.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik (Centre Party) said in an interview that the final draft of the pension reform bill has not landed on his desk yet. The reform’s working group has presented its results to the government and fundamental agreements are ready, while many questions still remain, such as tax policy, details of exiting the second pension pillar and other.

Read more here.


Video: Evacuation in Lithuania amid fire at tyre recycling plant

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

Alytus in southern Lithuania was hit by a cloud of black smoke from a fire at a large tyre recycling plant. A hospital nearby has been evacuated.

Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports that the fire broke out on Wednesday, October 16. Fire fighters from nearby towns and cities, including Kaunas, have been trying to extinguish the flames. The military has been called in to assist the effort which continues into Wednesday afternoon.

Smoke from burning tires is extremely harmful, so a rehabilitation hospital in Alytus has been evacuated. The town’s inhabitants are advised to stay indoors, cover water wells and not use the water for food.

Read more here.


Keywords: Latvia Ukraine

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BATL board member: Latvia should offer Belarusian partners an attractive offer

«To ensure potassium salt from Belarus returns to Latvia, we have to do our homework – make railway infrastructure more efficient, reduce tariffs and give Belarusian partners an attractive offer. And we need to act quickly. The new legislative initiative for the opening of the border railway section for all cargo carriers is a strong signal to help strengthen cooperation between Latvia and Belarus,» stresses Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics board member Ivars Landmanis.

Court sees personal promotion attempts in claims about delays with Maxima tragedy case

Riga City Pardaugava Court denies claims made by a number of people about slow progress with the review of the criminal case regarding the Zolitude tragedy. On top of that, the court says those are attempts to secure positive personal promotion at the expense of the tragedy’s victims and such claims mislead society.

Lithuania courts idea of establishing a state commercial bank

If you were this week to flick through pages of Lithuanian print and online outlets, the topic of banking will pop up on top. Lithuania’s Scandinavian capital-based commercial banks SEB and Swedbank are closing their regional branches, cash operations are gone in most bank affiliates, there are fewer ATM machines around, mortgage interest rates in Lithuania are higher than elsewhere and I can go on with the list on local banks’ sins. How to rein in the situation in banking sector?

Google, Facebook business incompatible with privacy rights, says Amnesty International

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has found in a study that the «surveillance-based business model» of Facebook and Google's is incompatible with the right to privacy. The U.S. companies disagree.

Latvia’s efforts to achieve climate neutrality may require billions of euros

Latvia has not yet estimated the costs of moving towards climate neutrality, but they may reach billions of euros, said Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s deputy state secretary Alda Ozola at the Energy and Climate Plan 2030 – Road towards Sustainable Country forum on Thursday, 21 November.

Ex-president: 13th Saeima is not responsible for previous parliament’s «cuckoo eggs»

Latvia’s ex-president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga believes there is no reason to dissolve the 13th Saeima.If the previous Saeima left some «cuckoo eggs» for the new parliament before leaving, such as something in legislation, this does not mean the current Saeima is to blame, says the ex-president.

If Riga City Council fails to resolve waste management problem, Pūce may initiate dismissal

If Riga City Council fails to resolve the waste management problem by 11 December, Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry will likely initiate the city council’s dismissal, said Environment Minister Juris Pūce in a conversation with journalists on 21 November.

Rats in Estonia cut e-governance services

In Estonia, which sees itself as the world’s first digital nation, has experienced an interruption of state e-services, caused, apparently, by rats in Harju County around Tallinn.

Saeima deputies: bio-economy is a major strategic development direction for Latvia

Bio-economy is one of the main strategic directions for Latvia and the National Development Plan for 2021-2027 needs to have a section dedicated to bio-economy. It needs to detail a specific vision for necessary innovations, labour force resource and capital attraction.

Greece to close overcrowded migrant camps

The Greek government has announced plans to shut down overcrowded open migrant camps to open closed and smaller centres.

Cērps: financial stability should be the main priority for the Bank of Latvia

One major priority for the Bank of Latvia should be responsibility over the stability of the financial system, said potential candidate for the post of the Bank of Latvia and ex-chairman of the Finance and Capital Market Commission Uldis Cērps.

Spanish court points to Ryanair baggage fee excessiveness

Europe’s leading airline Ryanair has been fined by a court in Spain that ruled that asking a fee for hand baggage is excessive.

European Commission positive about Latvia’s budget for 2020

Latvia maintained budget discipline in its next year’s budget plan, the deficit is within acceptable borders, but the tax portion’s decline before the economy generally does not allow for rapid increase of public expenditures, including wages, pensions and benefits, the European Commission admits.

Terrorist attack victim numbers decline, but many countries remain at risk of terrorism

The number of people who died in terrorist attacks around the world had dropped 15.2% in 2018. Nevertheless, the number of countries that are under risk of terrorist attacks has only increased since then, as reported by the Institute for Economics and Peace on Tuesday, 20 November.

Swedish TV: U.S. investigates Swedbank over violations of Russia sanctions

With U.S. and European Union’s sanctions banned from cooperating with Russian weapon maker Kalashnikov, Swedbank has been involved in sending large sums between the shareholders of the Russian firm and the owner of Kalashnikov USA, Swedish television SVT reports.

Saeima’s committee views residents’ request on postponing increase of party funding

On Wednesday, 20 November, Saeima’s Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee conceptually supported the legislative draft on the initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents in regards to the significant increase of funding for political parties and its submission to the parliament’s Budget Committee for review.

Estonia sees no alternative to NATO and says it’s strong

Estonia’s top diplomate Urmas Reinsalu has announced prior to a meeting with counterparts from other NATO nations that he considers the alliance strong and sees no alternatives to it.

Supplying all Latvian residents with food would cost nearly EUR 12 million per day

In the event of a threat to the state, supplying Latvian residents with food would cost the state budget approximately EUR 12 million per day, according to estimates from Agriculture Ministry, which were performed in line with adoption of a comprehensive state security system.

State Revenue Service employees’ «glances» at sensitive files and symbolic penalties

Employees of Latvia’s State Revenue Service have been punished multiple times for leaking sensitive data in the past. People received insignificant disciplinary penalties while the leaked information may have ended up in the hands of less than honest people. Why is it that state security matters protected as well as empty hockey gates and who should be held responsible?

Malta arrests businessman in journalist murder case

Maltese authorities have arrested in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Wednesday a well-known entrepreneur Yorgen Fenech. Police and Fenech himself have not yet commented publicly on the operation

Latvia’s finance minister bets on tax reform to find money for healthcare

To find necessary funding for healthcare, Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs proposes creating «a fair system» in the context of the expected tax reform in which all employed taxpayers will be able to participate.

Levits: Principle of irresponsibility is entrenched in Latvia

Latvian President Egils Levits, discussing the issue of doctor wages in the country, has said: «We have developed for a long time a mechanism of irresponsibility». The head of state gave an interview to Latvijas Televīzija’s programme Rīta Panorāma on Wednesday, November 20.

Riga Mayor ready to resign, if no new majority in City Council

Riga Mayor Oļegs Burovs is looking for a new majority after cooperation with his party has been stopped by Harmony party. If no new majority is established, Burovs would resign, he said in an interview with Latvijas Radio.

Lithuanian firefighters protest over low pay and outdated equipment

Lithuanian firefighters have reminded of government commitments in the field in a protest in Vilnius over the average wage of 430 euros and outdated equipment.

Sweden discontinues investigation into Wikileaks Assange over rape

Swedish investigators have decided to end investigation into Julian Assange, the whistle-blower organisation Wikileaks, over alleged rape that has been upheld since 2010.

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