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Saturday 25.01.2020 | Name days: Sigurds, Zigurds

Week in Lithuania: Court sanctions fugitive judge’s arrest, President meets Pope, pollution tax proposed

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Lithuania, Viačeslav Titov, Miglė Tuskienė, fugitive judge

Former Lithuanian judge Neringa Venckienė

Last week, in Lithuania, Court sanctioned the arrest of s fugitive judge, Lithuanian President met with the Pope, a pollution tax was proposed and the parliament passed «spy swap» bill.

Vice-minister to become von der Leyen’s economic advisor

Lithuanian Deputy Finance Minister Miglė Tuskienė will become economic advisor to Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s incoming president, Lithuanian media reported on Friday, November 8. Tuskienė, 48, has served as finance vice-minister since August 2017. Previously, she held the post of financial counsellor at Lithuania’s Permanent Representation to the EU.

Court grants ex-judge’s arrest

Prosecutor Darius Jakutis asked on Thursday, November 7, a court in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, to sanction the arrest of Neringa Venckienė, a former judge and lawmaker who was extradited from the United States earlier on Wednesday, for two months; the request was satisfied on Friday, November 8.

Parliament passes «spy swap» bill

The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Thursday, November 7, an amendment to the Criminal Code that details the president’s right to pardon a convict involved in a spy swap deal. President Gitanas Nausėda can make the earliest pardon decisions next week when the bill will be signed into law and following recommendations from the clemency commission.

President meets Pope, Italian leaders

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda went on Thursday, November 7, for a two-day visit to Rome and met Pope Francis and Italy’s leaders. On Thursday, the president also met with members of the local Lithuanian community and visited the Pontifical Lithuanian St. Casimir’s College in Rome. On Friday, November 8, Nausėda met with Pontiff Francis and with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti.

Culture minister in action

Images of a huge concrete slabs laid around next a unique Gothic church in Zapyškis, a small town near Kaunas, have provoked social media outrage, Lithuanian Culture Minister Mindaugas Kvietkauskas on Wednesday, November 6, described the project as an aggressive and inappropriate solution and promised to seek accountability of those behind the decision.

LFGU proposes one-off pollution tax

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union continued this week pushing through with its proposal to introduce a car pollution tax but it would apply only once a car is registered in the country the first time. The tax would not be applied to further car registrations when owners would change within the country. The tax is expected to be approved with next year’s budget and would come into force next year. The tax would range from 18 to 760 euros, depending on the CO2 emissions per kilometre. Diesel cars would be taxed from 115 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and petrol and LNG cars would start from 130 grams.

President invites Finland to join efforts on Astravyets NPP issue

President Gitanas Nausėda, currently in Helsinki, on Tuesday, November 5, invited Finland to join efforts to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus. Lithuania maintains that the Astravyets nuclear power plant Russia’s Rosatom is about to complete is unsafe and poses threat to the country’s national security, environment and people.

Lithuania affirms plans to buy LNG ship

Lithuania’s Klaipėdos Nafta provided this week some details regarding its plans to purchase the Independence floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) it currently leases from Norway’s Hoegh LNG or another vessel by late 2024. The Board of Klaipėdos Nafta decided to borrow up to 135.5 million euros from the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) for a period of 26 years. It was also decided to propose that the National Energy Regulatory Council reduce the LNG terminal charge for gas consumers by 27 million euros annually starting next year.

PM took sick leave due to fever

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who is being treated for lymphoma, took sick leave on Monday, November 4, and Tuesday, November 5, because he had a fever, but was back in office on Wednesday, November 6. According to Skvernelis, medical tests had to be conducted to make sure that the fever was not caused by an infection. The prime minister thanked those sincerely concerned about his health, but noted that some politicians had already start spreading rumours about his allegedly very poor condition.

Memoirs of 1863 uprising leader’s wife presented

The first Lithuanian-language edition of memoirs of Apolonia Sierakowska, the wife of one of its key commanders, was presented to the general public on Thursday, November 7. In the book, the wife of Zygmunt Sierakowski, known in Lithuania as Zigmantas Sierakauskas, shares her memories about her husband and family, and the uprising. Twenty-one insurgents were executed in Vilnius’ Lukiškės Square between 1863 and 1864 and were secretly buried on the capital’s Gediminas Hill, which was closed to the public at that time.

Controversial Titov loses his seat in Klaipėda council

Viačeslav Titov, a Klaipėda councillor convicted of defaming Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, one of the leaders of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisan resistance, lost his mandate after the Central Electoral Commission (VRK) on Tuesday, November 5, stripped him of the municipal councillor’ mandate.

Foreign minister meets with Ukrainian filmmaker Sentsov

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius met on Friday, November 8, with Ukrainian film director, writer and Crimea activist Oleg Sentsov in Vilnius. Sentsov was detained in Russia-annexed Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison on charges of terrorism in 2015. He was freed in September as part of a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia.

Šilenskis appointed CEO of Klaipėdos Nafta

Darius Šilenskis has been appointed CEO of Lithuania’s state-run oil and LNG terminal operator Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipėda Oil, KN), having led the company’s oil business so far. He will assume the new position on November 11.

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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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