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Tuesday 23.07.2019 | Name days: Magda, Magone, Mērija
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BNN summary of the week: What is in KGB bags? Promising government formation and Riga City Council fighting over seats

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BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Government; Announcement; Defence; Fight; Agreement.

GOVERNMENT: Latvia will most likely have to wait for government’s approval until next year

Although a large number of potential minister candidates for Krišjāņis Kariņš’s proposed government, it is unlikely for the new government to be approved this year, according to politicians participating in government formation talks.

Prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš from New Unity had previously said he would wait for a response from New Conservative Party, KPV LV, Attīstībai/Par and National Alliance if they agree to his proposed government composition and specific minister candidates until Wednesday.

If Kariņš receives support from parties, he will turn to President Raimonds Vējonis with a request to nominate him as prime minister candidate officially.

The aforementioned parties have expressed conceptual support for Kariņš’s offer. He may meet with the president on either Wednesday or Thursday.

When asked if Vējonis plans to meet with parties or Krišjānis Kariņš, the State President’s Chancellery responded by saying the it is in the works. More detailed information is promised to be reported on Wednesday, 19 December.

Because Kariņš is a member of the European Parliament, he was in Brussels on Tuesday, 18 December. He returned to Latvia on Wednesday.

Even if he is nominated for the post of prime minister this week, the government is unlikely to be approved this year, considering it is also necessary to approve the government declaration. Saeima’s last meeting for this year is planned to take place this week.

Full article here

ANNOUNCEMENT: KGB bags unveil more information about Latvian politicians

The published KGB files mention Latvian politicians whose names had not been associated with this secret service in the past, even though the law requires publication of such information.

Some of those politicians explain their cooperation with KGB was not voluntary, and that they have proven as much in court, which is the only institution with the authority to prove residents’ association with KGB. Appearance of other politicians among the contacts detailed in the files, however, came as a surprise.

Saeima Election Law states candidates have to submit information regarding their possible cooperation with USSR, Latvian SSR or foreign state security institutions, intelligence or counter-intelligence services as freelance agents, registered agents, residents or owners of apartments used for meetings of said agents.

Those candidates are not prohibited from taking part in elections. However, information regarding their possible cooperation has to be reported to authorities.

For example, in August, prior to 13th Saeima elections, information was published that four candidates – Romualds Maculevičs (NSL), Artūrs Malta (Alternative party), Juris Strušels (LSDSP/KDS/GKL) and Arvīds Ulme – may have been KGB agents in Latvian SSR. This information was reported to the Central Election Commission by the Centre of the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism.

Full article here

DEFENCE: If Saeima dissolves Riga City Council, Ušakovs promises to turn to Constitutional Court

If Latvia’s parliament decides to dissolve the Riga City Council, Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs will appeal this decision in the Constitutional Court, the politician told journalists.

Ušakovs criticized the legislative proposal submitted by the National Alliance’s led Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry to dissolve the capital’s city council.

Riga Mayor said the legislative draft mentions that in the event of the city council’s dissolution the temporary municipal administration would be led by EPRDM state secretary’s deputy for municipal affairs Aivars Draudiņš. The mayor stressed that Draudiņš’s name was mentioned multiple times in the past in relation to corruption scandals. «I don’t think putting someone like him in charge would be the right thing to do. I invite the minister [Gerhards] to fall back to what he said during National Alliance’s congress – that there is no legal reason for the city council’s dissolution,» said the mayor.

While Ušakovs was talking to journalists, 10-15 opposition deputies with supporters were protesting in the background. They held in their hands posters saying ‘Riga is no cow for milking!’; ‘Nil, stop lying!’; ‘Step down!’, etc.

As it is known, Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Kaspars Gerhards has submitted a legislative draft to the government to initiate the dissolution of Riga City Council.

Full article here

FIGHT: Danske money laundering scandal in Estonia continues with eight arrests

As the Estonian Office of the Prosecutor General is investigating money laundering in the billions of euros at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank between 2007 and 2015, eight people have been arrested, ERR and Postimees daily report.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Wednesday, December 19, citing the daily Postimees that the bank’s former top managers, Aivar Rehe and Tõnu Vanajuur, are not among the suspects, while a representative of the Estonian Office of the Prosecutor General refused to comment and pledged more information about the matter on Wednesday.

Between 2007 and 2015 some €201 billion worth of potentially questionable transactions linked to non-residents took place at Danske’s Estonian branch. As Postimees wrote, out of more than 15,000 accounts investigated, some 6,200 are problematic.

Full article here

AGREEMENT: UGF and Harmony once again vote to keep Truksnis the Mayor of Jurmala

With votes from the Union of Greens and Farmers and Harmony, Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis has once again managed to keep his post.

The opposition initiated a vote in the city council to decide on Truksnis’ remainder in this post.

Commenting on the vote, Truksnis categorically denied his involvement in all crimes he is accused of committing. He adds that he anxiously expects to appeal those accusations in court. «I have not committed any illegalities. I have never financed anyone, nor have I ever forged documents. All of those accusations are politically motivated,» said the mayor.

He said ‘accusations are reported as though cow bells every time materials of the case are carried from one office to another’ and the main reason is the desire to change the power in Jurmala. Truksnis stresses that society has known about these accusations since 2016. In spite of that, residents decided to entrust management over Jurmala to him and his team in 2017.

«Clearly voters trust me and my words when I say I am innocent. I have no intention of stepping down and abandoning voters, because responsibility includes continued work and fulfilment of promises,» said the mayor.

Truksnis also stressed charges have been raised against him personally, not the city council or any of its companies.

Deputy Guntis Grūba, however, said that listening to Truksnis pulls at his heart strings. Unfortunately, he said the mayor’s words do not coincide with actions. «You do not cooperate with members of the opposition, you ignore us, you organized an extraordinary meeting with an agenda that includes regular matters, you approve the budget in haste and give us no time to study all proposals. These are not good management principles,» said Grūba.

Full article here


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Heavy rain expected in Latvia at week’s beginning; air temperature to reach +29° C

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