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Ceturtdiena 20.02.2020 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

Week in Lithuania: Emergency in Vilnius Airport, Fox News damages Lithuania’s image, Tax chief sacked lawfully

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Lithuania, Vilnius, virus, Gitanas Nauseda, Saulius Skvernelis

Vilnius Airport

In Lithuania, the top news stories of the past week were a virus-related emergency situation at the Vilnius Airport, the dismissal of the Lithuanian tax chief and a call from President Gitanas Nausėda for parties to work constructively in the election year.

Extraordinary passenger in Vilnius airport

A passenger who flew to Vilnius from the United States via Warsaw was on Thursday, February 6, taken to the Centre of Infectious Diseases of the Santara Clinics with a suspected infectious disease. Rolanda Lingienė, director of the National Public Health Center’s Vilnius Department, said that judging from where the man came from and his initial symptoms, this case was not linked to the new coronavirus spreading in China and outside it.

Fox News makes damages to Lithuania’s reputation

It is safe to live in and visit Lithuania, Edvardas Šileris, deputy chief police commissioner, said on Thursday, February 6, after an article published by the US TV channel Fox News’s website stated that Lithuania’s three major cities are leading in Europe in terms of murder rates. He also said there’s a downward murder tendency in the country as 97 murders were recorded in the whole of Lithuania last year.  Last year, 18 murders were recorded in Vilnius, 13 in Kaunas and six in Klaipeda, including two unresolved cases.

SD accuses government of ignorance

Lithuania’s social democrats says the government has taken a step back in the area of human rights after it rejected their proposal to follow in the steps of Sweden and cancel fines for prostitutes but introduce tougher punishments for their clients. Those engaged in prostitution now face administrative liability in the form of fines ranging from 90 to 140 euros, or from 140 to 300 euros for repeated cases.

Wind power output hits all-time record in 2019

Lithuania’s wind power generation hit an all-time record last year thanks to windy weather and improving technologies, the Lithuanian Wind Power Association (LVEA) said on Thursday, February 6. LVEA Director Aistis Radavičius expects wind generation to continue growing in the years to come, with the period between 2021 and 2023 likely to see a new boom in the construction of new turbines. Lithuanian wind power plants generated a total of 1.453 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2019, a rise of almost 28 percent from 1.139 TWh in 2018, according to the association.

Intelligence agency vows to strengthen internal control

The Lithuanian State Security Department (SSD) plans to strengthen its internal control to bring it in more into line with the Seimas ombudsman’s recommendations.  Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas made the recommendations after examining a complaint by Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice-president at MG Baltic, one of the country’s biggest business groups.  While the SSD did not violate the law in collecting and using information on Kurlianskis, the probe revealed certain regulatory gaps, according to the report.

President’s aide downplays PM wife’s hiring by Orlen

President Gitanas Nausėda’s advisor says Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis should answer questions about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s employment with a company that is part of Poland’s oil group Orlen, but adds that the situation should not be given special emphasis. He admitted, however, that the spouses of many high-ranking officials have problems in pursuing their careers because the positions they hold are often looked through the prism of various conspiracy theories.

 EU commissioner has plan for Baltic Sea pollution reduction

Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries, said on Wednesday, February 5, that he will initiate a plan for reducing pollution in the Baltic Sea. The European Commission can propose various measures and sources of funding, but member states must get rid of activities that pollute inland waters, according to the Lithuanian commissioner.

Court: Lithuania’s tax chief sacked lawfully

Dainoras Bradauskas was lawfully fired as the head of the Lithuanian State Tax Inspectorate in 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court (LVAT) ruled on Wednesday, February 5. In its judgment that is final and not subject to appeal, LVAT upheld a first-instance court’s decision that Bradauskas was dismissed lawfully. Bradauskas challenged in courts Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka’s decision to sack him for abuse of office.

PM calls foreign minister’s visit to Minsk ‘timely step’

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius’ recent visit to Minsk was a timely step, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, February 5. The prime minister said Linkevičius and he had discussed the topics of talks with Belarus’ officials ahead of the visit. Also, the minister forwarded Skvernelis’ invitation for Belarusian Prime Minister Siarhiej Rumas to come to an economic forum in Lithuania in May.

 PM says tests show complete remission of cancer

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, February 5, that his blood cancer is in complete remission.

Rakauskas appointed head of All Media Latvia

Mindaugas Rakauskas has been appointed the head of All Media Latvia, a company of TV3 Group Baltics. Rakauskas will take up his new position on March 2 and will be in charge of TV channel, radio and digital media portfolio, while Christian Anting will be the head of TV3 Group in the Baltics. Rakauskas so far was the commercial director of All Media Lietuva.

President calls on parties to focus on constructive work before election

President Gitanas Nausėda has called on party leaders to avoid populism ahead of the upcoming general election in the fall and hopes for constructiveness, his advisor Povilas Mačiulis says. On Tuesday, February 4, the head of state started a series of meetings with leaders of parliamentary parties, with Mačiulis saying that meetings will focus on party agendas, other key priorities as well as the president’s initiatives.

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Kristīnes Misāne’s representatives say her extradition is temporarily halted

The extradition of Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne, who is accused of kidnapping her own child, to the South African Republic has been temporarily halted, as Delfi TV ar Jānis Domburs was told by the woman’s sister Mārīte Batraka.

Estonian wind farm land sold for EUR 51.4 million

In Estonia, the auction of a 160-hectare plot of land intended for the erection of wind turbines, has been won by Estonian energy giant Eesti Energia, which offered the price of 51.5 million euros, ERR reports.

Citskovskis: around 3 000 people have left state administration in Latvia in three years

Over the course of three years the number of people employed in Latvia’s state administration has reduced by 3 000 people, as reported by State Chancellery director Jānis Citskovskis at a meeting of Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, 19 February.

European Central Bank annuls PNB Bank’s license

The European Central Bank has made a decision to liquidate PNB Bank’s license, as confirmed by Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Number of births in Latvia has increased in January since last year

Over the past four years, birth number is declining, however during the year there are months when greater birth number is registered. Provisional data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia show that 1.6 thousand newborns were registered in January 2020, which is 5 % more than in the corresponding month a year ago.

133 jobs in welfare liquidated in Latvia last year

A total of 133 jobs were liquidated in Latvia’s welfare sector last year. This was done to reduce and optimize institutions and administration in this sector, as confirmed by Welfare Minister’s advisor Liesma Kalve.

Latvia needs almost 300 million euros to afford Rail Baltica

The funding Latvia needs to implement Rail Baltica project is EUR 297 620 500. This includes EUR 242 385 425 from the Connecting Europe Facility and EUR 55 235 075 from the state co-financing, as reported by Transport Ministry’s communication office.

Spanish government approves digital tax, but waits for OECD deal

As European Union member states seek to tax the profitable business of tech giants, Spanish government has passed a digital services tax, which could affect such US companies as Facebook and Google, according to The Guardian.

Estonian police finds potentially fatal substances added to illegal drugs

In Estonia, the police have informed the society about finding rat poison and washing powder in illegal drugs, ERR reports.

Kariņš: it is blatant we’ve had to wait for so long for a ruling in Maxima tragedy case

It is blatant that we have had to wait for more than six years between the Maxima tragedy and a ruling in the criminal case, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 19 February.

Latvian government takes over National Opera building

The government has decided to take over the Latvian National Opera and Ballet building and hand it over to Culture Ministry for management, as reported by the ministry’s representative Lita Kokale.

Ukraine warfare escalates; OSCE calls for restraint

In Eastern Ukraine, this week has been marked with a deadly battle between Ukrainian government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called on sides to adhere to agreed ceasefire, US news portal Radio Free Europe reports.

Rīgas satiksme new management’s stance on contract with Rīgas karte remains unclear

Municipal public transport company LLC Rīgas satiksme’s new board offers no clarity in relation to potentially terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as Saeima’s Public Expenditures and Audit Committee was told by RS board chairperson Džineta Innusa.

UK would not give visas to unskilled EU labour after Brexit

The British government has announced its immigration plan for the period after Brexit. It sets forth not issuing visas to unskilled labour from European countries, the BBC reports.

Attīstībai/Par! and Progressive party to run in Riga elections together

Party union Attīstībai/Par! and the Progressive party have decided to put together a shared list of candidates in the upcoming snap elections in Riga. Mārtiņš Staķis will be their mayoral candidate, as confirmed by Attīstībai/Par! representative Aleksis Zoldners.

Einars Repše becomes Baltic International Bank’s council head’s advisor

Latvia’s ex-prime minister and once the governor of the Bank of Latvia Einars Repše has become the advisor to Baltic International Bank’s council chairman Valērijs Belokoņs, as confirmed by the bank.

Prosecutor General’s Office requests Denmark to extradite Misāne to Latvia

The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia has sent a request to Danish authorities regarding the extradition of Kristīne Misāne to the country, as confirmed by the office’s press-secretary Laura Majevska.

In pictures: UK hit by heaviest winter floods of past years

The storm Dennis has heavy flooding to the United Kingdom as widespread rainfall came a week after the powerful storm Ciara, according to The Guardian.

FDP: economic growth may be slowed by multiple global and domestic risks

Latvia’s Fiscal Discipline Council agree on Finance Ministry’s analysis, expecting the strong effect from slowed economic growth to remain in 2020, the council says.

Estonia dismisses Beijing’s call to amend intelligence report unfavourable to China

Estonian diplomats have rejected a call by the Chinese Embassy in Tallinn to amend an annual security report by the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service pointing to growing influence of China in Estonia, ERR reports.

Latvian ex-state secretary has no plans to take disciplinary case to court

Economy Ministry’s state secretary Ēriks Eglītis, who was suspended from his post, has no plans at the moment to take the disciplinary case to court, as the man confirmed in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 18 February.

Multi-billionaire Bezos promises USD 10 billion to help tackle climate change

In the US, the founder of the e-commerce giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has pledged to allocate a funding of USD 10 billion for fighting climate change, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Latvia will continue fighting for fair financing in EU’s next multi-year budget

It is in Latvia’s interests to reach a timely agreement on the next European Union (EU) multi-year budget to help contribute to projects and secure uninterrupted investments in Latvia, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Land acquisition for Rail Baltica going slow in Estonia

As Estonia seeks a stretch of land across the country for the construction of the pan-Baltic railway Rail Baltica, only 32 plots of land have been acquired out of some 650 needed, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Construction engineer Sergets sentenced to six years in prison in Maxima tragedy case

On Tuesday, 18 February, Riga City Pārdaugava Court commenced reading the ruling in the so-called Maxima tragedy criminal case, sentencing construction engineer Ivars Sergets to six years in prison, as well as five year prohibition to work in his profession.

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