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Ceturtdiena 02.04.2020 | Name days: Imgarde, Irmgarde
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BNN summary of the week: zoo without Līdaka. Misāne back in Latvia. Grey list avoided

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Latvia, SAR, Denmark, Kristīne Misāne, birthrates, CSP, Maxima tragedy, Ivars Sergets, Oļegs Burovs, Ints Ķuzis, New Unity, zoo, tax, alcohol, recommended The week continued with uncertainty over the situation with Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne in Denmark. While the people were mobilizing and gathering signatures at change.org website, Latvia’s Office of the Prosecutor General issued a European arrest order to have Misāne extradited to Latvia.

This week also came with a ruling in Maxima tragedy case. Zolitūde 21.11 association’s head Regīna Ločmele-Luņova said in advance the people ‘would not like it’. The politician was correct. Only construction engineer Ivars Sergets was found guilty. The other eight suspects were acquitted.

Political parties have also started preparing for snap elections in Riga, which are currently planned for 25 April. While Mārtiņš Staķis and Oļegs Burovs smile at Riga’s residents from promotional posters, New Unity decided to save the now ex-chief of Latvian State Police Ints Ķuzis from unemployment. This in spite of Ķuzis dancing with ex-KGB officer Juris Savickis. New Unity has even offered him a place in their list of candidates in Riga City Council elections.

The BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Fight; Dancing; Ruling; Announcement; Plan; Birthrates; Changes and No pressure.

FIGHT

Denmark cancels Misāne’s extradition to SAR in favour of extradition to Latvia

Kristīne Misāne, South African Republic, extradition, Denmark, LatviaOn Thursday, 20 February, the Danish court approved the decision of the Danish office of the prosecutor to cancel Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne’s extradition to the South African Republic (SAR). On top of that, the Danish office of the prosecutor has also decided to extradite the woman to Latvia instead, as reported by Ritzau.

The decision to cancel Misāne’s extradition to SAR was made by prosecutor general Jan Reckendorf because Latvia’s Office of the Prosecutor General has issued a European arrest order for Misāne and had it sent to the Danish office of the prosecutor along with a request for the woman’s extradition to Latvia.

It is expected Misāne will be extradited to Latvia, where she will be made a suspect in the case of avoidance of a court’s or orphan court’s ruling, theft of another’s financial instruments and document forging.

Read more here

DANCING

Ķuzis’ friendship with KGB official is no problem to run with New Unity in elections

Unity, Ints Ķuzis, Dinamo Riga, State Police, Juris Savicskis

Ints Ķuzis

Ex-chief of Latvian State Police (SP) Ints Ķuzis has joined New Unity and intends to run in the upcoming snap elections in Riga, as BNN was informed by the party.

If elected, Ķuzis is prepared to work on corruption prevention and security matters. It should be mentioned that prior to him stepping down Ķuzis was seen dancing with ice hockey club Dinamo and Russian gas company Itera Latvija chief Juris Savicskis at festivities organize to celebrate the 101st anniversary of State Police.

There is a video available on the internet that shows Ķuzis dancing with Savickis with a comment detailing Savickis’ past as a high-ranking Soviet KGB officer. This video was published by New Conservative Party politician and Riga City Council deputy Valters Bergs.

In the commentary added to the video, Bergs congratulates all police officers with the celebration, adding «every year at police celebration I ask the question what Juris Savickis does there, spending the evening with the management of State Police».

According to Bergs, Juris Savickis is a politicized gas millionaire, chief of Itera Latvija and chairman of Dinamo Riga ice hockey club chairman.

Read more here

RULING

Construction engineer Sergets sentenced to six years in prison in Maxima tragedy case

Maxima tragedy, Maxima Latvija, court, ruling, Re&Re, CM Consulting, Kubs, Ivars SergetsOn Tuesday, 18 February, Riga City Pārdaugava Court commenced reading the ruling in the so-called Maxima tragedy criminal case, sentencing construction engineer Ivars Sergets to six years in prison, as well as five year prohibition to work in his profession.

The court also maintained security measures applied to him in force.

The office of the prosecutor wanted seven years and six months in prison for Sergets.

Construction examination expert Andris Gulbis, architect Andris Kalinka, construction supervisor Mārtiņš Draudiņš, as well as construction company Re&Re construction process foreman Staņislavs Kumpiņš, on the other hand, have been acquitted.

Riga City Council Construction Office’s Legal Department’s Construction Supervisory Office expert Marika Treija, as well as Construction Office’s Inspectorate deputy chief Aija Meļņikova and construction office employee Jānis Balodis have also been found not guilty.

Read more here

ANNOUNCEMENT

Riga Zoological Garden board members Līdaka and Morozovs laid off

Ingmārs Līdaka, Riga Zoological Garden, Andris Morozovs, dismissal, recommended

Ingmārs Līdaka

Both Riga National Zoological Garden’s chairman of the board Ingmārs Līdaka and board member Andris Morozovs have been fired from their respective posts, as confirmed by Līdaka.

Līdaka says he is unable to comment the reasons for his dismissal because he has yet to study relevant documents and the motivation behind this decision.

Morozov’s press-statement details an assumption that the lay-off is related to the piece of land in Mežaparks provided to Riga Zoological Garden in 2011. «By dismissing the board the soil has been prepared for alienation of property owned by Riga,» claims Morozovs.

According to information from Morozovs, in August 2011 Riga city municipal administration provided Riga National Zoological Garden a piece of land free of charge in Riga, Ezermala and Cimze street with a total area of 22 873 m2. The contract was signed for a ten-year term.

«Before waiting for the end of the term, the municipality’s executive director found reasons to terminate it. As the reason he mentioned the violation of the rules for the use of the piece of land by Riga Zoological Garden, which has also become the reason for the board’s dismissal. The aforementioned piece of land was being used by Riga National Zoological Garden until autumn 2019, when all of a sudden criticisms were voiced about possible illegal construction and storage of construction materials. The current board and specialists of the zoological garden deny allegations,» stresses Morozovs.

Read more here

PLAN

Latvian Saeima decides to reduce planned excise tax rise for alcohol

alcohol, tax, changes, Latvia, SaeimaThe increase of excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages planned for 1 March will be more moderate. This much is provided by amendments to the Law on Excise Duties approved in the final reading by the Saeima on Thursday, 20 February, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Excise tax rate as of 1 March will be increased by an average of 5%. Similar growth rate is planned for 2021. Saeima’s Budget and Finance (Taxes) Committee chairman’s associated Iveta Benhena-Bēkena had previously said about amendments that the previously planned excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages would have reduced the industry’s competitiveness among other Baltic States.

«Decisions should be pragmatic, justified and proportional. These amendments are important because data for the last quarter shows a clear reduction for domestic market sales. This means it is necessary to react to Estonia’s excise tax policy,» says Benhena-Bēkena, adding that the supported proposal provides for a more moderate rise of the rate.

Read more here

BIRTHRATES

Number of births in Latvia has increased in January since last year

CSB, births, deaths, statistics, Latvia, marriagesOver the past four years, birth number is declining, however during the year there are months when greater birth number is registered. Provisional data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSB) show that 1.6 thousand newborns were registered in January 2020, which is 5 % more than in the corresponding month a year ago.

In January, 2.7 thousand deaths were registered, which is 13 % less than in January a year ago.

Natural increase in Latvia has been negative since 1991. In January 2020, number of registered deaths exceeded number of registered births by 1.1 thousand, according to data from CSB.

During the first month of this year, 484 marriages were registered in Latvia, which is 16 marriages fewer than in the corresponding month a year ago.

Natural increase in Latvia has been negative since 1991. In January 2020, number of registered deaths exceeded number of registered births by 1.1 thousand.

Read more here

CHANGES

Latvian Healthcare Ministry puts third stage of e-health project on hold

Ilze Viņķele, e-health, Healthcare Ministry, development, services

Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele

Healthcare Ministry plans to focus on existing e-health services and will not develop their next stage, said minister llze Viņķele at a press-briefing on Friday, 21 February.

The existing e-health system was created more than ten years ago and since then requirements and understanding of necessary products and digital solutions have changed significantly. Introduction of new services is difficult without impacting the accessibility of existing services actively used by doctors, pharmacists and patients, says Healthcare Ministry.

The ministry explains that in the current e-health system there is a limited number of concurrent users, adding that this is not something that can be increased. On top of that, not a single IT company has applied for participation in the recent tender, which makes work for the National Health Service (NVD) more difficult, making necessary reforms in the industry more difficult to implement.

Read more here

NO PRESSURE

Financial Action Task Force decides to not add Latvia to its «grey list»

Moneyval, FATF, grey list, LatviaThe world’s central anti-money laundering organization Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to not exercise increased monitoring of Latvia. This means the country will not be added to the organization’s «grey list», as LETA was informed by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s office.

FATF plenary meeting took place in Paris this week. During this meeting Latvia’s potential addition to the list of countries reported to have strategic problems in anti-money laundering and terrorism.

FATF concluded in the end that Latvia has created a strong and sustainable crime prevention system, which is why there is no longer any reason to add the country to the «grey list».

More here


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Lithuania puts COVID-19-related prosecution above human rights

What should come first in a time of emergency like the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Obviously, order, but what about human rights?

Idleness rules will apply to companies with tax debts in Latvia

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Court to enforce nearly 12 000 euros from Gobzems for defaming Bunkus family

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has partially satisfied the plea from the surviving members of the family of the murdered lawyer Mārtiņš Bunkus against Saeima deputy Aldis Gobzems over defamation. The court has decided to enforce EUR 11 833 from him, as confirmed from the deputy.

Spain registers unprecedented job loss as lethal cases of COVID-19 exceed 10 000

In Spain, nearly 900,000 jobs have been lost since mid-March during strict measures to fight the coronavirus. 10,000 Spaniards have died from the virus disease, BBC reports.

Emīls Jakrins becomes board chairman of restaurant business company Vincents

Ex-Riga City Council’s Transport Department’s head Emīls Jakrins has become board chairman of architecture, design and restaurant business company LLC Vincents, according to information from Firmas.lv.

Jānis Vitenbergs approved in Latvia’s Economy Minister's post

On Thursday, 2 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved parliamentarian Jānis Vitenbergs as the country’s economy minister.

Large mine closes in Estonia after one of 800 miners tested positive for COVID-19

In Estonia, it has been decided to close one of two large oil shale mines after one miner tested positive for COVID-19, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 458 cases in Latvia, 649 in Lithuania, 858 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 458, growing by 12 cases in the past day. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 649 confirmed coronavirus infection cases.

Germany to keep gathering restrictions past Easter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany is far from being over as the government extended its strict rules for gathering in public places until April 19, DW reports.

Shuttle buses and express buses on hold in Riga

LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has decided to shut down shuttle bus services on all routes in Riga until the state of emergency in Latvia is over, as confirmed by RMS.

Latvian government to finance COVID-19 crisis prevention efforts from state budget

Efforts to overcome the direct negative effects from COVID-10 crisis will be financed from the state budget. After the crisis, however, the economy will be stimulated using EU funds, as decided by Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ led work group for support of entrepreneurship and the employed on Wednesday, 1 April.

EU planning lending programme to support temporary work schemes

EU member states would guarantee the creation of a fund up to 100 billion euros aimed at providing loans to governments to support workers in countries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission plans, according to EurActiv.

Minister: repatriation efforts may be restarted mid-April

Repatriation efforts may be restarted in the middle of April, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits on 1 April at a conference of Latvian municipalities on public transport and traffic during a state of emergency.

Saeima committee supports writing off debts left from 2008 crisis

On Wednesday, 1 April, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported during a remote meeting the proposal to allow credit institutions to one-sidedly write off debts for mortgage loans taken prior to the 2008 economic crisis, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Belarus introduces ban on buckwheat exports

Belarusian government has prohibited temporarily the export of buckwheat and other staple foods, state news agency BelTA reported.

Moscow tests app for tracking infected people required to self-isolate

In Moscow, where a lockdown has been in place since the beginning of the week, a new smartphone app is being developed and tested aimed at ensuring that patients with mild symptoms adhere to their contract of self-isolation, Russian state news agency TASS reports.

Multiple of Nature Protection Office’s duties delegated to the State Environment Service

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry issued an order on 30 March to delegate multiple duties of the Nature Protection Office to the State Environment Service, according to information from LETA.

Latvian State Employment Agency received notifications for numerous planned lay-offs

Latvia’s State Employment Agency has received notification about planned lay-offs of 3 258 employees of 19 companies.

1 April onward entry to Jurmala by car will not be allowed without paying 2 euro fee

Wednesday, 1 April, marks the beginning of the the season when entry to Jurmala by car will require a 2 euro fee, as reported by Jurmala City Council.

Estonia looking at mass tests’ option to determine latency of COVID-19

The Estonian government has set itself the goal of mass tests of COVID-19 in the society, its Foreign Minister has revealed as the worst-hit Baltic country is looking at ways to overcome the outbreak, Estonian public broadcaster reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltic. 446 in Latvia, 581 in Lithuania, 779 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 446. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 581 cases.

Countries rush to support production of lung ventilators, essential amid pandemic

Governments and medical institutions in the world seek to acquire many lung ventilators that can save lives in severe cases of the COVID-19 disease. France and Israel have made recent announcements in this respect, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Public catering companies to adopt new hygiene requirements as of 1 April

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has expanded requirements for public catering and retail trade companies, BNN was told by the ministry.

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia confirmed infected with COVID-19

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia have been infected with COVID-19, according to information reported by the Disease Prevention and Monitoring Centre expert Jurijs Perevoščikovs.

UN Secretary General calls for solidarity seeing pandemic as a global test

UN Secretary General António Guterres has evaluated that the social and economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest test to mankind since World War Two, British public broadcaster BBC reports.


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