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Ceturtdiena 12.12.2019 | Name days: Otīlija, Iveta

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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Ministry: to prevent damaging Latvian sports sector’s reputation, Lembergs should leave LOK

To avoid letting US sanctions negatively affect Latvian Olympic Committee and spread to the reputation of the country’s sports sector, the ministry can only ask Aivars Lembergs step down as member of LOK Executive Committee, BNN was told by Education and Science Ministry.

Budget Committee declines residents’ request to postpone increasing funding for parties

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has rejected a public initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents. This initiative requested postponing the planned increase of funding for political parties.

Lower election threshold in Lithuania – more democracy or chaos?

The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has lowered this week the parliamentary election threshold to 3 per cent for political parties and 5 per cent for coalitions.

Russia expels German diplomats, retaliating to German step over Berlin murder

Russia has asked two diplomats of the German Embassy to leave the country. This is a tit-for-tat measure after Germany declared two Russian diplomats personae non grata as Berlin investigates an international murder in the German capital, TASS reported.

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone to leave LTAB

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone will leave Latvian Transit Business Association managed by Aivars Lembergs, as both are subjected to US sanctions.

Lembergs’ influence over Ventspils Freeport needs to end, bank supervisors say

The goal of the US sanctions is reducing Aivars Lembergs’ economic and political influence over Ventspils Freeport and other companies under his control. Sanctions are not meant to paralyse companies, rather seeing how they are used to process deals influenced by the person under sanctions – Aivars Lembergs, said Finance and Capital Market Commission head Santa Purgaile during a press-conference on Thursday, 12 December.

USD 25 million offered in Weinstein sage to 30 alleged sexual abuse victims

In the U.S. movie industry scandal surrounding sexual abuse claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein his lawyers have offered a USD 25-million settlement to more than 30 women, The Guardian reports.

Legal Affairs Committee supports lifting judge immunity for administrative violation cases

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported prior to the second reading legislative drafts to the Law on Judicial Power and Law on Judges Disciplinary Liability intended to lift the immunity of judges in administrative violation cases, as confirmed by Justice Ministry.

Estonian-Finnish gas interconnection unveiled

Estonia and Finland have held ceremonies to unveil the gas pipeline Balticconnector, built to connect the gas transmission networks of both countries separated by the Baltic Sea.

Mārtiņš Kazāks officially becomes governor of the Bank of Latvia

On Thursday, 12 December, Latvia’s Saeima officially approved Mārtiņš Kazāks as the new governor of the Bank of Latvia, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

What is Ventspils Development Agency and what will its members do now?

Among the organizations against which US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control has adopted sanctions is also Ventspils Development Agency. In accordance with OFAC issued Global Magnitsky General Licence Nr.1, global partners have 30 days to cease all cooperation with this organization.

Israel on way to third parliamentary election in year

Israeli legislators have been unable to overcome a prolonged political crisis. The Knesset has given its initial approval to the third parliamentary election in the Middle Eastern country in a year’s time after legislators proved unable to form a majority coalition.

Social Integration Fund torn over NGO support priorities

Although sides of the Social Integration Fund have argued over priorities of the Non-Government Organizations Fund, the contest to start using funding allocated to NGOs may yet be announced this year, allows Social Integration Fund council member and Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s representative Imants Parādnieks.

EC signs von der Leyen’s European Green Deal toward 2050 climate neutrality

The European Commission has signed off new leader’s plan to make Europe the world's first climate neutral continent. The European Green Deal envisages net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Committee supports amendments that allow electing city council for longer

Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee has decided to support law amendments to allow electing Riga City Council for a term longer than five years.

Finland ends EU presidency with call to take free AI course

Finland is opening up a wildly popular Elements of Artificial Intelligence online course to all EU citizens. The announcement was made in Brussels on Tuesday to mark the approaching end of Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU.

Latvian ministers agree on general sea port management reform

On Wednesday, 11 December, during an extraordinary meeting of the government dedicated to allowing the state to take over management of Riga and Ventspils freeport, ministers agreed on the necessity to implement a general reformation of management at Latvia’s various ports.

FKTK proposes isolating Lembergs and companies under US sanctions

Finance and Capital Market Commission invites financial market participants to refrain from providing financial services to suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, as well as companies and institutions applied with US sanctions, FKTK reports.

To take over Riga and Ventspils port government to form a separate company

On Wednesday, 11 December, the Cabinet of Ministers decided at an extraordinary meeting to invite the Saeima to add amendments to the Law on Ports to accommodate the plan for the government to take control over Riga and Ventspils freeports.

Estonia health body calls for measles vaccination of Ukrainian guest workers

Estonia’s health authority has issued a recommendation to employers working with Ukrainian guest workers to ensure the vaccination of their personnel against measles, pointing to critical situation in Ukraine.

In UN Court: Myanmar leader calls Rohingya genocide claims incorrect

In the International Court of Justice, Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been rejecting claims that her country’s military has been involved in allegations of genocide.

Family doctor visits may become more expensive for some residents in Latvia next year

Patient fees might increase or reduce next year. The latter may include more expensive family doctors visits: some residents may have to pay EUR 2 instead of EUR 1.42. The patient fee for specialist consultations will reduce.

20% of Riga Central Station design work for Rail Baltica is complete

Nearly 20% of Rail Baltica project’s design work on Riga Central Station has been completed. Construction company Bererix has closed off territory, railway, underground areas and other infrastructure for topographical and measuring work, as reported by Rail Baltica project’s representative Linda Vītola.

Fire in Tartu turns tragic to family

After a fire in Tartu, a family of five has been found dead, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Forecast: UK snap election to be won by Johnson’s Conservatives

In the United Kingdom’s snap elections, called to resolve the Brexit crisis, the victory of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is forecast by British sociology centre YouGov.

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