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Monday 22.07.2019 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina

Week in Lithuania: Coalition expansion talks completed, Vilnius University up in global rankings

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

Last week, four parliamentary parties continued coalition negotiations, two men were sentenced for spying for Russia, Government vowed to reduce shadow income in construction and car sale sectors.

Coalition negotiators complete talks, fail to agree on child benefit

Representatives of four parties in Lithuania, holding negotiations on a future ruling coalition, said on Thursday, June 20, they have completed their work, acknowledging, however, their failure to agree on the child benefit. The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance had demanded raising the child benefit to 100 euros per month per child, from 50 euros now, as of next year and increasing it further to 120 euros in 2021. The other parties argued the increase would strain the budget too much.  Families are now paid 50 euros per month per child and large families and parents raising disabled children get 70 euros.

Lithuanian court finds two people guilty of spying for Russia

A Lithuanian court has found two persons guilty of spying for Russia and issued them prison sentences of four years and nine months, a court spokesman said on Friday, June 21.One of the persons used to work at the Lithuanian Air Force’s Air Base in Siauliai, northern Lithuanian, until his detention, and the second had already retired. The court concluded that the two men, born in 1966 and 1961, used to hand over information to a Russian intelligence organisation it was interested in for remuneration and also had contact with representatives of this country’s intelligence organization.

Remains of Lithuania’s last partisan discovered

The remains of Antanas Kraujelis-Siaubūnas, Lithuania’s last partisan who was killed with a gun in his arms, have been found at the Orphans’ Cemetery in Vilnius, the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania announced on Wednesday, June 19. The identity of the partisan, killed in 1965, was confirmed through genetic tests. Archaeologists had been looking for his remains for several decades. The research was organised by the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania and led by Vilnius University archaeologist Gintautas Vėlius.

President vetoes law

Outgoing Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Thursday, June 20, vetoed a law which, in her opinion, might restrict citizens’ rights to have guns during an emergency situation or wartime. Adopted by the Lithuanian Seimas, the law states that guns and ammunitions can be temporarily taken or commandeered pursuant to the procedures and conditions defined by the laws on emergency situation and martial law.

Government vows to reduce shadow in various sectors

Lithuania’s government in principle backed plans on Wednesday, June 19, to make intermediaries declare cars’ sale-purchase agreements as early as next year and to also introduce centralised systems of car owners and marketplaces. The government-approved document sets the goal to reduce shadow economy in the construction sector as well as in the areas of sale of cars and their parts and meat products. The government estimates there are some 500-700 million euros in unaccounted money circulates in the construction sector. The share stands at around 151 million euros in the meat and meat product segment and 73 million euros in the car sale market.

Government backs EU plan to ensure net-zero emissions by 2050

Lithuania’s government on Wednesday, June 19, decided to join an initiative by other European countries to set a goal to transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050, despite possible challenges for the country’s economy, Economy Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius warned, however, that such changes would hit industrial cities, like Jonava, Akmenė and Mažeikiai, the hardest.

Equal university admission criteria introduced

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, June 19, put before the country’s parliament amendments on setting equal higher school admission requirements. Currently in Lithuania, different criteria apply to school-leavers for state-funded and non-funded studies. If lawmakers approve the proposed changes, school-leavers who would wish to enrol in higher education schools would have to pass 3 national-level maturity exams, including those of the Lithuanian language, mathematics and one optional exam, and an exception would be made for those wishing to study arts as they would not be required to take the mathematics exam. If approved, the changes would come into force in 2021.

Number of road traffic victims on a steep decline

 The number of road traffic victims in Lithuania has gone down at the fastest rate in the European Union, the country’s Transport Ministry said on Thursday, June 20. Figures from the European Transport Safety Council show the number of road traffic deaths dropped 75.9 per cent in 2001-2018 in Lithuania, the most among EU member states. It went down by 73.1 per cent in Latvia, followed by Slovenia and Spain (both 67.3 per cent), compared to the average EU drop of 54.5 per cent.

Vilnius University goes up in global ranking

Vilnius University has gone up by 30 position to the 458th place in the global QS World University Rankings 2020. Vilnius University holds the highest position among Lithuanian universities in the 500-university ranking, and is the only one to have improved its ranking. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University shares 591–600 places, compared to 581–590 last year. Kaunas University of Technology shares 751–800 positions, and Vytautas Magnus University remained in the same position for a third year running, sharing 801-1000 places.

Top prosecutor meets with president-elect

Lithuania’s Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis says he heard no criticism from President-elect Gitanas Nausėda during their meeting on Tuesday, June 18, but pledged to improve prosecutors’ selection procedures. The chief prosecutor said he heard the future president’s wish to depoliticise the prosecution system, and improving prosecutors’ selection procedures was one of the issues discussed during the meeting.

Farmers cannot expect drought compensation from EC

Lithuanian farmers who have incurred drought-related losses cannot expect compensation from the European Union, vice minister of Agriculture Venantas Griciūnas said on Wednesday, June 19. He did not answer the question on whether farmers could expect some sort of compensation from the national budget. The drought level was reached in three municipalities earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture will compensate farmers for losses incurred due to drought in 2018, with 8.5 million euros allocated for that purpose.

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Committee: potential NEPLP members’ reputation is their promoters’ responsibility

Responsibility for the reputation of potential members of Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council should be taken by organizations that recommend them, said head of 12th Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Inese Laizāne.

Latvia to test individual budget model to support people with mental disorders

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UK in emergency meeting over Iran-seized tanker with Latvia on board

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Latvian lawyer and ex-judge Uldis Bērziņš killed in Mārupe

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Audit uncovers a lack of transparency in use of Latvian Agriculture Ministry’s money

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Estonian President cycles 135 km in amateur Tour de France

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Latvian minister may consider raising tax on diesel fuel to finance road maintenance

In order to find money to finance road maintenance in Latvia, the option of increasing excise tax for diesel fuel is not entirely excluded, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 22 July.

Court ruling on Estonia ferry disaster seen as big disappointment

The ruling of a French court in a compensation case over the tragic sinking of Estonia ferry in 1994 has been described as a big disappointment by lawyer of the relatives of victims.

Latvian citizen among sailors of British tanker detained by Iran

Among the crew of the British tanker detained by Iran is one Latvian citizen, according to the report from Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Heavy rain expected in Latvia at week’s beginning; air temperature to reach +29° C

The beginning of the week in Latvia will be rainy, as low atmospheric pressure and rain clouds move through Latvia. Nevertheless, at the end of the week air temperature will reach +29 C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology.

In Ukrainian parliamentary election, win of Zelenskiy's party coming

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Week in Lithuania: CB denies Swedbank’s Syria links, PM Skvernelis to change some ministers

Last week, PM Saulius Skvernelis revealed that the Government mulls taxing property and polluting cars, Lithuanian Railways said it will keep contract with Latvia's Sigmen, Court disqualifies itself from Paleckis case.

BNN summary of the week: Cutting a pie. Minimal wage. Dangerous games

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Latvia among Baltic States with first quarter’s highest budget deficit

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Latvia’s industrial producer price level up 0.4% in June

Compared to May, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.4 % in June 2019. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.5 %, but prices of exported products reduced by 0.7 %.

Curious career zigzags. From shipping schemes to a warm seat in Latvian Railway

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Estonian TransferWise hires Netflix’s ex-chief financial officer

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Ukraine to reform citizenship process following Russian passport move

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, has ordered changes to the process for receving Ukrainian citizenship reacting to a Moscow decree increasing the number of Ukrainians eligible for fast-track Russian passports.

SES: barrels with chemicals found in Baldone are not harmful to people or environment

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U.S. shoots down Iranian aircraft amid rising tensions in Persian Gulf

With American-Iranian relations being tense, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that an American naval ship had downed an Iranian drone that threatened the ship in the Arabian Sea.

NATO StratCom does not consider FaceApp more dangerous than Facebook

The US Democratic Party is concerned about Russian-made FaceApp, which allows its users to imagine how they might look like when they are old and retired. NATO StratCom, however, does not consider the app to be more dangerous than other apps users entrust their personal data with.

Additional information to be asked for in Latvian prosecutor general’s evaluation

Saeima deputies who initiated the investigation if there are reasons the justify dismissal of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers have been asked to clarify their request by providing more detailed information in relation to conclusions mentioned in their request.

Latvian minister wants more responsibility for the state in children rights protection

The new children’s rights protection model will delegate more functions to the state, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Scandinavian tourist killers in Morocco convicted to capital punishment

In Morocco, for the murder of two Scandinavian tourists, three Islamic State group supporters have been sentenced to death.

European Parliament urges Russia to release illegally arrested Ukrainian citizens

On Thursday, 18 July, European Parliament’s members accepted a resolution in which they invite Russia to unconditionally release all illegally and arbitrarily arrested Ukrainian citizens in Russia and occupied territories in Ukraine.