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Monday 19.08.2019 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta

Week in Lithuania: PM clears no-confidence vote, top Court slaps LFGU, councillor fined for slander

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

Last week, Lithuania suffered upset in 2019 Eurovision Song Contest; PM Saulius Skvernelis survived a vote of no-confidence by the ruling LFGU; the Constitutional Court ruled that the Seimas breached law in dealing with public broadcaster LRT.

POLITICS: PM survives party’s confidence vote

PM Saulius Skvernelis survived on Tuesday, May 14, a vote of no-confidence by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s (LFGU) political group in the Seimas, and the LFGU group has also changed its position and wants to stay in the ruling majority. During a secret ballot on Tuesday night, all 46 group members who attended the meeting voted in favour to express confidence in the prime minister. The prime minister himself had asked for such a vote and he did not take part in it.

Ruling party mulls changing general election date

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) is to propose to change the date of parliamentary elections for earlier after the country elects its new president, the ruling party’s leader said on Thursday, May 16. Karbauskis did not rule out the possibility of holding an early parliamentary election next spring.

Seimas speaker does not abandon dual citizenship bid

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, called on Wednesday, May 15, for continued efforts to amend the Constitution to allow dual citizenship to more Lithuanians. Pranckietis described Sunday’s referendum as a successful initiative, even though it did not cross the required threshold of «yes» votes to pass the amendment. The referendum met the required turnout threshold, but fell around 300,000 «yes» votes short of adopting the amendment.

INVESTIGATION: Seimas LRT probe panel breached Constitution

The ruling LFGU-orchestrated Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania breached the country’s Constitution when it established a special commission to investigate activity of the public broadcaster LRT, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday, May 16. The Court said such a commission’s establishment violated the Constitution’s article on the freedom of speech and the LRT’s independence from politicians.

FINANCE: Central bank chief survives no-confidence vote

The Lithuanian parliament did not pass a resolution expressing no-confidence in the central bank governor, Vitas Vasiliauskas, on Tuesday, May 14. Forty-seven MPs supported the no-confidence motion, 51 voted against and one abstained.

JUSTICE: Councillor fined for defamation of partisan leader

A Klaipeda court imposed on Tuesday, May 14, a fine of 12,000 euros on Viačeslav Titov, a local politician, for the defamation of the memory of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, one of the leaders of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisan resistance. The Klaipeda District Court found Titov guilty of incitement to hatred, denial of Soviet crimes and the defamation of the memory of a deceased person, Olga Sadovskaja.

Prosecutors dismiss allegations about pressure on CIA prison probe

Public allegations that prosecutors or politicians exerted influence or pressure on an investigation into secret CIA prisons are unfounded, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Wednesday, May 15. The office said it had refused to open a probe into the statements after checking information and questioning a person indicated by Julius Rėksnys, a prosecutor who aired these allegations in the media.

MEDIA: Lietuvos Rytas daily to be issued 3 times per week

Lithuanian company Lietuvos Rytas, operating one of the largest media groups in the country, plans to issue its daily newspaper with the same name three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, as of next year, the news website reported. Several independent sources told the website the decision had been made already and would be announced with the launch of the 2020 subscription. Now the daily comes out five times per week.

President removes journalist from state awardee list

President Dalia Grybauskaite has removed Šarūnas Černiauskas, an investigative journalist who was sacked from the online news site last week, from the state awardee list, her press service said on Thursday, May 16. Černiauskas, who received the Medal of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas in February 2018, was removed from the list for discrediting the name of an awardee, it said. 15min said on Wednesday it had sent information on Černiauskas’ private information collection activity to law-enforcement officials.

BUSINESS: Lithuania’s PIS scheme was flawed

Lithuania’s public interest services (PIS) scheme that was in force in 2014 contained elements of state aid and distorted or threatened to distort competition, the EU Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday, May 15. The judgement is important for the fertilizer manufacturers Achema and Lifosa and the Orlen Lietuva crude refinery. The companies turned to courts over the PIS financing mechanism to challenge the requirement that businesses generating electricity for their needs should pay for public interest services.

Lithuania posts EU’s largest increase in new car sales

New car sales in Lithuania grew at the fastest rate in the European Union in the first four months of 2019, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). New passenger car registrations in Lithuania soared to 14,700 in January through April, up 53 percent from 9,610 a year-ago.

Refinery returns two shipments of tainted Russian crude

Polish-owned Lithuanian crude refiner Orlen Lietuva has returned two shipments of Russian oil contaminated with chlorine compounds, the business daily Verslo Žinios reported on Thursday, May 16. Orlen Lietuva says the tainted oil was not unloaded from the tankers at its Būtingė terminal and did not reach the Mažeikiai crude refinery in northwestern Lithuania.

ENTERTAINMENT: Lithuania fails to make it to Eurovision final

Lithuania’s Eurovision entry, Jurijus Veklenko, has failed to make it to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.  The 28-year-old with his song «Run with the Lions» did not get through Thursday’s second semi-final in Tel Aviv. Last year, Lithuania’s Ieva Zasimauskaitė qualified for the final and finished in 12th place. The country’s best-ever Eurovision finish came in 2006 when LT United with their song «We are the Winners» placed sixth in Athens.

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EU: Rīgas satiksme cuts Latvian budget fiscal room in 2020 by 72 mln EUR

The Riga city company Rīgas satiksme should, according to European Union criteria, be in included in the general government sector, thus it would cut the fiscal space of the 2020 Latvian state budget by 72 million euros, Finance Ministry stated.

Latvijas Krājbanka’s administrator recovered 542 thousand euros in July

The administrator of the insolvent Latvian bank Latvijas Krājbanka recovered 524 444 euros in July, which is by 75% more than a month earlier, according to the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis.

Latvian post-reform administrative centres to have 2 000 - 630 000 populations

After the planned administrative reform of Latvia, the population size of the administrative centres of the new municipalities is expected to vary from 2 000 to 632 000 people, according to a conceptual report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

A week of warm, but changing weather forecast for Latvia

Weather in Latvia this week is expected to be summer-like and warm, with rain expected on Thursday and Friday, according to the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Kabul wedding terror attack committed by Islamic State, the group says

Responsibility for the terror attack in Afghanistan, where explosives killed 63 people. has been claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group.

British Gibraltar releases seized Iran oil tanker

An Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar, part of the United Kingdom, has sailed away from port after being allowed to do so despite Washington’s call to detain it again.

BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s biggest budget; PNB Bank halts operations; Latvia sad with Latvia

Some positive news surfaced in Latvia this week – Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš announced that the country’s next budget will be the largest one yet and will exceed EUR 10 billion. In spite of this, however, financial difficulties have been observed – PNB Bank has ended up in a tight spot. The bank’s shortage of funds has forced Finance and Capital Market Commission to halt all of the bank’s financial operations.

Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

Last week, President Gitanas Nausėda rejected the government’s candidate for EU judge, hints of big changes at Šiaulių Bankas ahead

Independent Deputies Faction joins forces with Honour to Serve Riga

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction has signed a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga political party, pledging support for the party’s mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs, as LETA was told by the faction’s leader Valērijs Petrovs on Monday, 18 August.

Saeima’s MPC investigation committee requests information on every issued license

The parliamentary committee formed to investigate the mandatory procurement component has requested access to information regarding every issued MPC license and decision made by officials in regards to this field, says the committee’s representative Ilze Vanaga.

Latvian athlete receives two-year disqualification

Former Latvian long jumper Ineta Radeviča has received a two-year disqualification, as confirmed by International Association of Athletics Federation’s Athletics Integrity Unit.

Minister: state budget funds will not be used to compensate PNB Bank’s clients

The Deposit Guarantee Fund is sufficient to pay compensations to affected PNB Bank clients. This means not a cent from Latvia’s state budget will be used, said Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs in a telephone conversation with public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 16 August.

Estonia to invest 22 million in construction of a new TV house

Estonian government has set aside EUR 22 million for the construction of a new public television building, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Another one falls – Latvian FCMC halts PNB Bank’s operations

Operations of PNB Bank [formerly Norvik Banka] have been halted in Latvia, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Unemployment index in Latvia drops – rate down to 6.4% in Q2

In Q2 2019 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 6.4 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, and compared to the rate recorded a year ago, it dropped by 1.3 percentage points.

64.7% of Latvia’s population reportedly employed in Q2 2019

905.6 thousand people or 64.7 % of Latvia’s population aged 15–74 were employed in Q2 2019.

Lithuanian Conservatives’ tensions: can the party split?

The Conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) have risen to unseen heights lately – although in the opposition now, in 2016 parliamentary election the party racked up a record support in its 30 years’ history.

Minister: Latvia’s social budget surplus has reached one billion

The surplus of the state social budget has come close of the pre-crisis level – EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 15 August.

Riga City Council permitted to elect mayor after two-month deadline

In spite of the fact that 21 August will mark two months of Riga City Council working without a mayor, a condition that permits Latvia’s Saeima to dismiss the entire city council, deputies of the municipality will nonetheless have the right to elect a mayor after the deadline, says Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce’s advisor for legal affairs Valdis Verners.

Lithuanian president unhappy with Latvia’s decision to purchase energy from Belarus

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has voiced sadness over Latvia’s decision to purchase electrical energy produced at Astravets nuclear power plant in Belarus not far from the Lithuanian border. He admits, however, that this decision was not unexpected for him.

State Real Estate claims ReRe Būve 1 may be trying to circumvent the law

Construction company Rere Būve 1 publicly voices desire to continue implementing the construction contract. However, the construction company’s submitted work schedule for reconstruction of New Riga Theatre has everything changed – volume of work, terms and budget, Latvian State Real Estate reports.

Lithuanian mountaineer dies climbing French Alps

Lithuanian 38-year-old mountaineer Vytautas Mažeika died in a 50 m fall in the French Alps, Lithuanian public media LRT reports with reference to

Estonia decides to reform pension system; increase not promised

Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Estonian coalition party Isamaa, has confirmed that the government has agreed on his proposed pension reform, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Ruling party in Lithuania promises national agreement for education affairs

While more and more small town schools close down in Lithuania, the leader of the ruling party promises a «national agreement» for education affairs, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Viesturs Zeps’ has yet to convince NCP and Unity to support him as mayoral candidate

Mayoral candidate in Riga Viesturs Zeps still has not convinced New Conservative Party and Unity to support him, according to what he said in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 15 August.