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Friday 06.12.2019 | Name days: Niklāvs, Niks, Nikolajs
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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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Estonia points to human rights violations in occupied parts of Georgia, Ukraine

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu has noted in a meeting of the OSCE that violations of international rights and fundamental rights along with the continued crises in Georgia and Ukraine endanger security in the wider region of OSCE countries.

For the first time since 2003, woman possibly infected with rabies dies in Latvia

A woman that was possibly infected with rabies has died in Daugavpils, as reported by Disease Prevention and Control. This may be the first death caused by rabies in Latvia since 2003.

French pension strike engages 800 000 people

In France, the first day of mass demonstrations and public sector strike has involved over 800 000 in marches in many cities of the country, as protesters seek to force President Emmanuel Macron not to push forward with pension reform.

Interior Affairs Minister wants to use modern technologies to combat contraband

To ensure a more effective way to combat against contraband, Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens wants to use modern technologies that would work in parallel to customs officers. He said as much in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 6 December.

Ušakovs says he wants to run in Riga City Council snap elections

Member of the European Parliament and ex-Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs says he is prepared to start in snap elections in Riga if they are organized, as confirmed by Harmony chairman Jānis Urbanovičs.

Germany’s Merkel to visit Auschwitz Holocaust camp for first time

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has headed the German government since 2005, will on Friday, December 6, visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

VID officials will need to have spotless reputation, Saeima decides

From now on, officials of the State Revenue Service 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.

Nemiro: Latvia has not yet decided if it wants to acquire Gazprom’s shares in Conexus>

Latvia will consider every offer from transmission and storage system operator Conexus Baltic Grid shareholder to purchase company shares, says Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro.

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.


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