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Friday 03.04.2020 | Name days: Daira, Dairis

Week in Lithuania: Astravyets NPP emergency drill completed, protests against China held in Vilnius

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Last week in Lithuanian affairs, former President Dalia Grybauskaitė received award in Warsaw, PM defended dialogue with Minsk.

Lithuanian Air Force experts start testing NASAMS in Norway

Experts from the Lithuanian Air Force have started this week testing the NASAMS medium-range air-defence system manufactured for Lithuania at the Kongsberg factory in Norway, the Defence Ministry said. The NASAMS system is expected to be delivered to Lithuania by the end of next year. Lithuania is purchasing the mid-range air defence system under a 110-million-euro contract that the Defence Ministry signed with Norway’s Kongsberg on October 26, 2017.

Seimas speaker paid visit to Armenia

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, who paid visit to Yerevan this week, says Lithuania is rediscovering Armenia and is ready to share its reform experience with the South Caucasus country. Pranckietis discussed possible new bilateral relations initiatives with Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, Ararat Mirzoyan, the president of the National Assembly, and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the Lithuanian parliament’s public relations office said in a press release on Friday, October 4.

Lithuania holds Astravyets emergency drill

Lithuania was holding this week a four-day nuclear emergency exercise in southeastern municipalities to test services’ preparedness to respond to an incident at Belarus’ Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant. The authorities said the exercise involved a total of 24 public institutions and six municipalities, including around 300 officers, soldiers and public servants. Vilnius’ municipal officials did not take part after the city and the central government failed to agree on the scenario.

Lithuanian, Latvian presidents admit differences on Belarusian NPP, agree on faster border talks

 The Lithuanian and Latvian presidents, who met on Thursday, October 3, say they agree on the need to demand that the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant should comply with international safety standards, but admit that the two countries remain divided on the issue of blocking electricity from the Belarusian facility. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda warned that these differences in positions might hinder the Baltic power grids’ desynchronisation from the post-Soviet system and synchronization with the Western European system. The presidents also agreed to expedite talks on a maritime border treaty so that it could be approved within the next four years.  The two neighbouring countries signed a maritime boundary and economic zone treaty back in 1999, but it has only been ratified by the Lithuanian parliament. The Latvian parliament has not endorsed it yet.

Some names may be removed from wall of former KGB Vilnius building

Some of the names engraved on the facade of the former KGB building in Vilnius may be removed after new data have emerged, the daily Lietuvos Rytas reported on Thursday, October 3. The Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Centre has launched a new program to re-verify all the documents based on which the inscriptions on the wall of the former KGB building were made, according to Teresė Burauskaitė, the centre’s director.

Ex-president Grybauskaitė presented with Knight of Freedom

Lithuania’s former President Dalia Grybauskaite received the Knight of Freedom Award at the annual Warsaw Security Forum on Wednesday, October 2. The award is presented by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, an independent Polish think-tank specializing in foreign policy and international security.  According to Grybauskaite’s office, she was given the award for her merits in enhancing the security of the Baltic countries and Poland, and for her strong stance on Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Previous recipients of the award include Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus.

Government appoints new chief archivist, fire and rescue chief

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, October 2, appointed Saulius Greičius as director of the Fire and Rescue Department (PAGD), and Kristina Ramonienė as the country’s chief archivist.

Speaker urges ruling bloc to table no-confidence motion next week

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, urged Wednesday, October 2, the ruling bloc to table a no-confidence motion against him next week, saying the current situation has been dragging on for too long.  In response, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, said that a no-confidence motion will not be put to a vote next week, because a significant number of ruling coalition MPs will be away on foreign trips. The ruling bloc collected the necessary votes to initiate a no-confidence vote against the speaker several months ago, but have not yet table the motion because of the risk that they will fail to muster the minimum 71 votes needed to pass it.

PM defends dialogue with Belarus

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, October 2, Lithuania has to maintain dialog with Belarus to protect its interests, attributing the conservatives’ criticism to next year’s parliamentary election. Skvernelis said the government was not revising its position on the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant, but dialog with Minsk was necessary. According to Skvernelis, agreements signed with Belarus by the former government of conservative Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius contributed to the emergence of the Astravyets plant and the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ current rhetoric is aimed at mobilizing voters ahead of the 2020 election.

Ministry proposes to tie car tax to CO2 emissions

The Lithuanian Environment Ministry proposed this week to introduce a one-time car pollution tax and tie it directly to carbon dioxide emissions. Under the draft proposal the levy could range between several tens of euros to 1,400 euros. The tax on diesel cars would be several times higher than that on gasoline-driven vehicles. The ministry proposed that the levy should be paid every time a car is registered or reregistered. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis told reporters on Wednesday, October 2, that the Cabinet would discuss the proposed tax next week.

KN extends oil product handling contract with Belarus’ BNK

Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipėda Oil) has extended its oil product handling contract with BNK (UK) Limited, a subsidiary of Belorusskaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya (Belarusian Oil Company, or BNK), Belarus’ biggest oil product exporter until late 2021. BNK undertakes to ship Belarusian refineries’ light and dark oil products via the Klaipeda oil terminal for another two years, the Lithuanian company said on Tuesday, October 1.

Protest in Vilnius against China held

With China marking 70 years of Communist rule on Tuesday, October 1, around 20 protestors, including public figures and politicians, held protest banners and flags of Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong as they gathered at the capital’s White Bridge, the place where the Chinese embassy was to hold a fireworks display but was refused a permit by the city’s administration.

Keywords: Lithuania nuclear oil

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COVID-19 prompts Latvian government to involve army in border patrol with Belarus

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks has issued an order for Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) to provide support to the State Border Guard by sending national guardsmen to organize additional patrolling of the Latvian-Belarusian border, as confirmed by the minister.

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

The idleness regulations in Latvia will apply to companies with tax debts, as provided by amendments to Latvian government rules approved on Thursday, 2 April, to rules on companies affected by COVID-19 and who qualify for idleness support and other benefits.

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

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.

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