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Ceturtdiena 05.12.2019 | Name days: Sabīne, Sarma, Klaudijs
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Week in Lithuania: PM clears no-confidence vote, top Court slaps LFGU, councillor fined for slander

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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 vz.lt 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 15min.lt 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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VID officials will need to have spotless reputation, Saeima decides

From now on, officials of the State Revenue Service (VID) will need to have a spotless reputation. This is decided by Saeima’s amendments to the Law on State Revenue Service approved in the final reading on 5 December, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Brazil at risk of losing vote in UN General Assembly because of high debts

There are risks that because of failure to pay its debts to the United Nations Organization, Brazil could lose its voting rights in the UN General Assembly, Reuters reports.

Strained Lithuanian budget is desperate for additional sources of revenues

With the adoption of the new year’s budget skidding, two major professional groups – teachers and doctors – have had this week their demand for higher salaries satisfied, thus deepening the holes in the shallowing budget. Where to scoop up money to patch all the gaps and satisfy all the demands? This week, Seimas, Lithuanian legislature, was in a frantic search for additional sources of revenues.

Estonian Police and Border Guard Board official detained on suspicion of embezzlement

Estonian Internal Security Service has detained a senior officer of Police and Border Guard Board at the South Prefecture on suspicion of document forgery and embezzlement of more than EUR 250 000, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Saeima supports government’s decision to extend state of emergency in Riga

On Thursday, 5 December, Saeima agreed with the government’s decision to extend the state of emergency with waste management in Riga’s administrative territory until 12 March 2020, as reported by the Saeima’s press-service.

Flu infection rates remain low in Latvia, but infection spread continues nonetheless

A total of 30 clinically confirmed flu infection cases were registered in Latvia’s healthcare institutions. Nevertheless, virus activity remains low in the country, according to the latest monitoring report on influenza and acute upper respiratory tract infections compiled by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

France braces for intense protests over Macron’s intended pension reform

France shaken by this decade’s biggest protests in which trade unions urge other residents to oppose French President Emmanuel Macron’s intended pension reform, Reuters reports.

Marguerite Fund to sell Conexus shares to Japanese Marubeni fund

Shareholder in Latvian natural gas transmission and storage system operator Conexus Baltic Grid, Marguerite Fund plans to sell its owned 29.06% of Conexus shares to Japanese company Marubeni fund.

Saeima’s majority may move towards Riga City Council’s dismissal

The majority of Latvia’s Saeima may vote towards dismissing Riga City Council, according to unofficial information from LETA. There is also a more reserved position on this, but generally it is admitted that Riga City Council’s dismissal process will be initiated.

National Economy Committee invites reviewing Rail Baltica project’s management structure

«Considering the unstable situation and lasting stagnation with the project’s management, the National Economy Committee invites Transport Ministry to review the structure of RB Rail,» says Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee chairman Jānis Vitenbergs.

«Riga’s residents overpay.» Kleins proposes terminating contract with Rīgas karte

Riga City Council vice-chairman and shareholder in municipal company LLC Rīgas satiksme Druvis Kleins, has ordered the company’s lawyers to assess the option of quickly terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as confirmed by Kleins, who represents For Riga! bloc in the city council.

Newspaper: Russia plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad next year

Russia has plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad Oblast, which shares borders with Poland and Lithuania, as reported by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Ex-president says conflicts with territorial reform surface where the rich refuse to share

The objective of the territorial reform remains unchanged – forming economically more efficient administrative territories. This means creating counties able to sustain themselves and develop economically. Conflicts with the reform usually surface in areas, where the rich refuse to share. There are also situations when the poor want to receive and do nothing on their own, BNN was told by ex-President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers.

October’s industrial production output in Latvia increases 3%

Compared to October 2018, industrial production output increased by 3 % in October 2019, according to calendar adjusted data at constant prices.

Iceland’s prime minister urges making welfare a budget priority

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir urges the government to focus on priorities that serve the interest of families and nature, not focus exclusively on economic growth, BBC reports.

NATO leaders meet in spite of tension to discuss security challenges

In spite of ongoing rows, leaders of NATO member states met near London on Wednesday, 4 December, to discuss important topics like cyber security and strategic challenges created by China, BBC reports.

Latvian government extends state of emergency with waste management in Riga

Although Riga City Council has stated multiple times that it is not necessary to extend the state of emergency with waste management, Latvia’s government has nevertheless decided to extend it until March 2020.

SEB Bank clients now able to use mobile devices to pay for goods and services

SEB Bank clients who have a mobile phone with Android OS are now able to pay for goods and services using their phones. It is possible to use mobile phones to for transactions up to EUR 150 in Latvia and abroad using contact-free terminals, the bank reports.

Kleins: we may have to review who receives public transport discounts in Riga

Considering the complicated financial situation at Rīgas satiksme public transport company, it may be necessary to review which groups of people receive discounts and benefits, said Riga City Council’s vice-chairman Druvis Kleins in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Wednesday, 4 December.

Latvian pupils’ mathematics score above average among OECD member states

Latvian pupils’ mathematics skills are reportedly higher than average among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to results of OECD PISA 2018.

Environment Ministry to decide on Riga City Council’s dismissal this week

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s lawyers will prepare a report this week on whether or not it is necessary to initiate dismissal of Riga City Council, as journalists were told by Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce on Tuesday, 3 December.

Turkey upholds veto against NATO Baltic defence plans; Lithuania hopes for compromise

Ankara has reiterated its stance of blocking the adoption of updated Baltic defence plans in NATO as a bargaining chip in its attempts to label Kurdish groups in Syria as terrorists, according to the Turkish policy.

In spite of suspicions of fraud in VID, government promotes Kaspars Podiņš to general

Although multiple objections have been voiced in regards to Kaspars Podiņš’s work as chief of State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Office, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has nevertheless decided to promote him to general.

Estonian pupils – best among European nations in PISA education test

Estonian pupils’ skills have topped the list of European nations in the latest ranking of average education results of the survey of Programme for International Student Assessment carried out by the OECD in 79 countries and economies.

Latvia’s ruling coalition officially agrees on Kazāks as chosen Bank of Latvia governor

Parties of the ruling coalition in Latvia have agreed to pick the central bank’s council member Mārtiņš Kazāks as their chosen candidate for the posting of governor of the Bank of Latvia, politicians told journalists on Tuesday, 3 December after a meeting of ruling parties.


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