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Week in Lithuania: Coronavirus menace keeps growing, storm ravages country, cooperation with CIA

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 Lithuania coronavirus CIA schools recommended

In Lithuania, the top stories of the past week were coronavirus testing and new measures to prevent it, as well as discussion of measures to reduce transport pollution discussed and Lithuania agreeing to cooperate in CIA probe.

45 samples tested for coronavirus in Lithuania, no new cases

The total of 45 blood samples were tested for possible coronavirus in Lithuania on Thursday, March 12, but they all came back negative, the country’s Health Ministry said. Its figures show that, all in all, 366 COVID-19 tests have been done in the country. Only three coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Lithuania so far. They include a woman in Siauliai and a couple in Kaunas. They all had visited northern Italy and now being treated in hospital. A state of emergency in declared in Lithuania over the coronavirus threat.

School closures for two weeks ordered

The Lithuanian government on Thursday, March 12, backed the State Emergency Situation Commission’s proposal to suspend activity of all educational, cultural, sports and leisure establishments in the country due to the coronavirus threat, and also ban traveling to certain countries until March 27. People will also be banned from leaving the country and travel to risk countries, including Italy, France, Germany Spain, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. People arriving from risk countries will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

General, 2 other officers quarantined in Vilnius

Lithuanian Land Force Commander Brigadier General Raimundas Vaikšnoras was taken from Vilnius Airport straight to a hospital to be tested for coronavirus after he returned from a trip to Germany on Tuesday, March 10. The measures were taken following international media reports that two military officers tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a military conference that took place in Wiesbaden, Germany, on March 5-6.

Storm in Lithuania kills woman, damages 13 cars

Lithuania’s Fire and Rescue Department has received 471 calls by 6 a.m. on Friday, March 13, over the consequences of the overnight storm that killed one woman and damaged 13 cars. Most of them (93) were received in Klaipeda County, and also 66 in Vilnius County, over 40 in Panevėžys, Kaunas, Siauliai and Utena Counties, and over 20 in Marijampole County. It was reported on Thursday that a ripped part of a roof killed a woman in Ukmergė, and the same piece also damaged a bus.

Wife of Vytautas Landsbergis dies at 90

Gražina Ručytė-Landsbergienė, the wife of Lithuania’s first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis, died at the age of 90 on Tuesday, March 11. Ručytė-Landsbergienė was born in the eastern Lithuanian town of Anykščiai in 1930, and studied at the Kaunas Conservatoire. Her studies were interrupted by her deportation to Siberia in 1949. Back in Lithuania, Ručytė-Landsbergienė taught at the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute and the Lithuanian Music Academy. She became the head of the Landsbergis Foundation in 1991 and the Lithuanian representative of the US Lithuanian Orphan Care Committee in 1993.

Government discusses measures to reduce transport pollution

As Lithuania plans to reduce transport pollution and this sector’s environmental impact over the upcoming decade, the country’s government on Tuesday, March 10, discussed measures, estimated to need around 1.5 billion euros in funding, to reach that goal. Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas introduced the Cabinet to draft amendments to the Law on Energy from Renewable Sources as they will create conditions to ensure that the share of energy from renewable sources in the country’s transport sector stands at 15 per cent by 2030.

Government decides to grant aid to Greece

The Lithuanian government has on Tuesday, March 10, decided to grant aid to Greece. In a statement, the government said the aid was granted in response to Greece’s request for humanitarian assistance and to contribute to the regulation of consequences of the refugee crisis in Europe. Lithuania plans to send tents, beds, sleeping bags, pillows, footwear for a total of 79,600 euros. The Lithuanian government also allocated 50,000 euros from the state reserve for the purpose.

President stands against NATO-duplicating European defence system

Talks of a separate EU defence system are raising special concern and would lead to confusion as it would duplicate NATO, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Tuesday, March 10 while addressing participants of the Bucharest Nine meeting of foreign ministers in Vilnius. In the middle of 2018, nine EU member states, including the United Kingdom which left the EU in January, backed France’s proposed initiative to establish a European defence group.

President chastises West for passiveness on Russia

Russia remains the key long-term threat to NATO, and the West’s passiveness on Russia’s military actions only encourages this country’s aggression, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Tuesday, March 10, while addressing participants of the Bucharest Nine meeting of foreign ministers in Vilnius. The Lithuanian president paid attention to the fact that NATO’s presence in the Eastern flank is very modest compared to Russia’s aggressive military posture, especially taking into account the Kaliningrad region.

Lithuania ready to cooperate as part of CIA prison probe

Lithuania is ready to cooperate as part of the International Criminal Court investigation into possible human rights violations at secret CIA prisons, Lithuania’s Justice Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office said on Tuesday, March 10. In May, 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a secret CIA prison operated in Lithuania in 2005-2006 for suspected terrorist and ordered Lithuania to pay 130,000 euros in compensation to Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia. The Strasbourg court is now hearing a second case against Lithuania, initiated by Saudi Arabia citizen Mustafa al Hawsawi over his unlawful detention at a secret American prison in Lithuania.

Lithuanian traveller dies of malaria in Nigeria

A Lithuanian businessman who was an avid traveller has died of malaria this week in Africa. Another Lithuanian traveller is also affected by malaria and is a poor state. The Lithuanian team left for Africa several months ago. The trip was meant to commemorate Lithuania’s Independence Day celebrated on March 11.

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airBaltic to cancel up to 50% of planned flights until November 2020

As the crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic continues in Latvia, the country’s national airline airBaltic has decided to cancel nearly 50% of planned flights until November 2020, as reported by the airline’s representative Alise Briede.

Latvian government increases penalty for breach of COVID-19 restrictions

On Thursday, 3 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments to the Latvian Code of Administrative Violations in the final reading. The new changes increase the fine for violation of epidemiological security requirements, as well as restrictions imposed for the duration of the state of emergency in the country.

Estonian government to help local governments with supplementary budget

The Estonian government has submitted to legislators a supplementary budget aimed at allocating to local governments 30 million euros and another 100 million to help continue economic activity in the country, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Home. Soap. Two metres – SPKC reminds residents of the main safety measures

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads through direct contact with an infected person through droplets when a person sneezes of coughs, or by touching surfaces the infected person had previously sneezed or coughed on.

Belarus rejects Lithuania’s worries about alleged hiding of COVID-19 data

Minsk has rejected the concern voiced by Lithuania that alleged inadequate reaction to the spread of COVID-19 in Belarus could turn the country into a hotspot, which endangers Lithuania, LRT reports.

COVID-19 pandemic and corruption risks. How can government and society defend against them?

During a state of emergency, it is important for the Saeima, Cabinet of Ministers, Crisis Management Council and other officials to make decisions quickly and ensure completion. However, in such a situation there is a risk of dishonest officials abusing their powers for personal gain, risking the quality of democracy.

First death from COVID-19 confirmed in Latvia

The first death from COVID-19 coronavirus has been found in Latvia, as reported by public media

UN General Assembly calls for closer cooperation to contain pandemic

World’s nations in the UN General Assembly have unanimously passed a resolution confirming the unprecedented effects of COVID-19 and calling countries for increased cooperation, Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 493 infection cases in Latvia, 696 in Lithuania, 961 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Latvia has reached 493, increasing by 35 in the past day. Lithuania, meanwhile, reports 696 confirmed cases. According to the latest information from Estonia, the number of confirmed infection cases there has reached 858.

Budget revenue in Latvia approximately 7% behind plan in March

With the spread of COVID-19 crisis in March Latvia’s state budget revenue has dropped 7.2% behind the plan, according to unofficial information from LETA.

Global number of COVID-19 cases exceeds one million

Globally, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has exceeded one million and the death toll related to the infectious disease is 52 500, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Latvia prohibits exports of medicines needed during state of emergency

Exports of medicines vital for the domestic market during state of emergency will be prohibited in Latvia, according to the order published in the Latvian Herald by Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele.

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.

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