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Sunday 26.01.2020 | Name days: Agneta, Agnis, Ansis

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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Development of areas along Rail Baltica line will require investments worth EUR 300 million

In order to implement infrastructure development projects along Rail Baltica line in Riga, it will be necessary to secure investments up to EUR 350 million in the next ten-year period, as reported by Riga City Council chairman Oļegs Burovs.

Olainfarm shareholders fail to convene due to lack of quorum

Because of the lack of quorum, the extraordinary meeting of Olainfarm shareholders originally scheduled for Friday, 24 January, did not take place. It was planned to discuss changes to the company council during this meeting, as reported by the company’s representative Ieva Lapiņa-Ennīte.

EY: investors more optimistic about Latvia’s economic competitiveness

Last year, investors’ opinion of the competitiveness of Latvia’s economy improved for nearly all indexes, as reported by EY Latvija representatives.

Bulgaria accuses three Russian citizens for poisoning of arms producer

Three Russian citizens have been charged by Bulgaria over the attempted murder of an arms producer and another two Bulgarians using a poison. One survivor believes there is a link with the poisoning of the Skripals in the United Kingdom.

Ignoring sanctions, Ventspils City Council approves budget created under Lembergs’ watchful eye

In spite of sanctions imposed by USA, Ventspils City Council approved the city’s budget for 2020, which came to be under absolute influence from Aivars Lembergs, on Thursday, 23 January, BNN was told by opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis.

Estonia eyes one-year prison sentence for first-time drunk drivers

Estonian government ministers have proposed harsher sanctions for drunk driving. Their initiative comes after three people got killed in a crash, where a heavily intoxicated driver was involved.

Latvian residents trust National Armed Forces the most and the Saeima the least

Latvia’s residents trust the country’s National Armed Forces and the president the most and the Saeima the least, according to the survey performed by Latvian National Security Academy’s Security and Strategic Research Centre.

In China, coronavirus claims more lives as transport limitations put in place

The Chinese outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus has reached the death toll of 26 people, meanwhile, authorities are trying to keep it from spreading introducing transport movement limitations in at least 10 cities.

Information about VDD new office building’s construction costs is a state secret

Although some media have mentioned different amounts of money the construction of a new office for the State Security Service at the location of former Marss cycling track may cost, the service reports that this information is considered a state secret.

Kariņš: Latvia is no longer the younger brother – our country’s voice is heard

Latvia is no longer the younger brother on the international arena – our country is heard and its opinion is taken seriously, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš at annual foreign policy debates on Thursday, 23 January.

Poland passes law on limiting public actions, statements of judges

The Polish Sejm has passed a draft law that sets forth limiting the say of judges over justice appointments, court reform and politics. The limitations have been widely criticised abroad.

Linkaits: banks once again service Ventspils Freeport terminals

The situation with Ventspils Freeport is gradually becoming more relaxed. On top of that, banks once again service port terminals there, as Latvian Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits affirmed in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 23 January.

Aivars Lembergs picks ex-prime minister’s freelance advisor Grudulis as his lawyer for debates

The suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is also accused of committing serious crimes and is under US sanctions, has picked once the prime minister of Latvia Māris Kučinskis’ freelance advisor Māris Grudulis as his lawyer for debates in court, as was announced in court on Thursday, 23 January.

What is Lithuanian President’s main reason to skip Jerusalem Holocaust forum?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has unexpectedly flip-flopped on where and how to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. First, he said he will attend the commemoration in Jerusalem, but then changed his mind to pay homage to the Jewish victims in Auschwitz, in Poland. The reason? Well, there is no clear official reason for that – President’s Office did not provide one.

Audit: Rail Baltica slowed by poor risk management and slow progress with municipalities

Delays and cost increase of Rail Baltica project is heavily affected by no risk management and no strategy, as well as slow progress in cooperation with municipalities and passive alienation of properties, Latvian State Audit concluded in its latest report.

China stops public transport in two cities over coronavirus

In China, a new strain of coronavirus has claimed the lives of 17 people. To keep it form spreading, local authorities have stopped the public transport to and from the cities of Wuhan and Huanggang.

BNN investigation | Rebenoks and Krieķis may have plans to return to Olainfarm board despite ties to serious crimes

Ex-Olainfarm officials Mārtiņš Krieķis and Pāvels Rebenoks, the latter also serving as Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s advisor, may return to the company’s board to, possibly, continue walking «well-travelled path» paved with non-transparent deals, according to information available to BNN.

In Estonia, forgetting to register child’s name can lead to municipality choosing it

Estonian law obliges parents to register the name of their child in a month’s time after giving birth. In the unlikely case of them being late, the law opens right to a local municipality to choose it.

Change of concept? Viesturs Kairišs becomes Dailes Theatre’s artistic director

Dailes Theatre’s board member Juris Žagars has picked Viesturs Kairišs as the theatre’s new artistic director, as journalists were told by Žagars on Thursday, 23 January.

Lukashenko: Belarus needs to diversify its oil imports, introducing Baltic supplies

As Minsk and Moscow are in talks to solve a dispute over the continuation of oil imports from Russia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that Russian supplies could be cut to 30-40% of Belarus’ total imports.

Minister does not exclude possibility of number of municipalities in Latvia increasing

The Administrative Territorial Reform offers reducing the number of municipalities to 39 in Latvia. Still, it is possible there may be one or two more, said Latvian Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Thursday, 23 January.

Thirteen people die from influenza in Latvia

Three people died from influenza in Latvia last week, increasing the number of victims to 13 for this year’s flu season, according to monitoring data of acute upper respiratory tract infections published by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Lithuania tries to halt haulage firm exodus to Poland with new tax

Lithuania is introducing a new «exit tax» to keep road haulage firms from relocating to other European Union member states. The firms say that other ways of moving business abroad will be used.

Corruption fighters: corruption perception indexes decline in Latvia in 2019

Latvia’s positions had worsened slightly in 2019 in global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International composed Corruption Perception Index.

UK parliament passes draft Brexit law

In London, the draft law on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union has been finally passed by the Houses of Parliament after years of inability of British legislators to decide on their preferred way out of the bloc.

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