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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

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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Court of first instance rejects Ušakovs’ appeal on dismissal as mayor of Riga

On Wednesday, 8 April, the Administrative District Court rejected Harmony politician Nils Ušakovs’ applications in which he appealed the order issued by Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce on his dismissal from the post of mayor of Riga, as reported by the court.

Latest on COVID-19 in Baltics. 577 in Latvia, 912 in Lithuania, 1 185 in Estonia

The number of COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 577, increasing by 29 cases in the past day. Lithuanian media, meanwhile, report 912 confirmed infection cases. Public data in Estonia reports 1 185 infection cases in this Baltic State.

Inflation in Republic of Latvia reportedly at 1.4% in March

Compared to March 2019, the average level of consumer prices rose by 1.4 % in March 2020. Prices of goods have increased by 0.9 % and prices of services by 2.7 %.

Lithuania’s BC chief: «Latvia’s COVID-19 support for business has been swifter»

It is official: Lithuania is extending lockdown until April 27 to combat the coronavirus pandemic which death toll in the country stood at 15 as of Wednesday noon. As many as 912 persons were diagnosed with COVID-19 by then.

Lithuania on path to allow price regulation in government

In Lithuania, the majority of legislators in the Seimas, have backed draft amendments that set forth allowing the government to regulate the prices of essential goods during this time of quarantine, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports.

BNN EXPLAINS | Envelope wages – one of the main reasons why idleness benefits may be denied

People need certainty – if they honestly pay taxes, they should be able to receive support from the state in the event of a crisis, since they have taken care of the state all this time by paying taxes, BNN was told in a phone conversation by chairman of LBAS Egils Baldzēns.

Criminal process launched against Aivars Lembergs for defamation

On 7 April 2020 State Police Kurzeme RP Saldus Department’s Criminal Police Office commenced a criminal process against Aivars Lembergs for untrue statements and claims he has used on multiple occasions during meetings of Ventspils City Council and Finance Committee against city council deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, as BNN was told by Kristovskis.

Latvia’s Prime Minister: we are financially well-situated in this crisis

We are financially well-situated in this crisis, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama.

Latvian government supports dismissal of State Land Service’s director general

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has supported Justice Ministry’s prepared decision project that details the dismissal of the State Land Service director general Solvitai Zvidriņa from her post, as confirmed by Justice Ministry.

China lifts lockdown in Wuhan

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global pandemic of COVID-19 began, a lockdown has been lifted for the first time since January, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Support in Latvia for COVID-19 crisis prevention reaches four billion euros

The volume of support available in Latvia to finance preventive measures to overcome COVID-19 crisis has reached four billion euros, as reported by Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs on Tuesday, 7 April.

Another month stuck home. Latvian government extends state of emergency

The state of emergency declared in Latvia because of COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until 12 May, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on social media on 7 April.

75 reports on competition distortions reported to Competition Council in 2019

Last year, the Competition Council received a total of 75 reports related to competition distortions caused by public persons, according to information listed in the latest public account for the institution’s more significant accomplishments in 2019 and developments in competition rights enforcement in Latvia.

Australia quashes child abuse convictions against cardinal Pell

A court in Australia has overturned child sex abuse convictions against cardinal George Pell after he was found guilty and received a prison term, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Education and Science Ministry considers not cancelling centralized exams

Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry considers the option to not cancel centralized exams, especially for 12th graders, as reported on Tuesday, 7 April, by Education Minister Ilga Šuplinska during a meeting with Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee.

Estonian government in two minds on cutting public spending to help economy

Should public spending be cut to help restore the economy? Two of the three parties in the Estonian government have opposing views on this as economic recovery is increasingly discussed, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Riga International Airport plans to lay off 500 employees

Because of consequences caused by COVID-19, Riga International Airport plans to lay off 500 employees, as BNN was informed by the company.

Poland planning to hold presidential election as postal ballot

The Polish presidential election in May should be held as a postal ballot, the country’s legislators have decided. Opponents of the idea argue that this means putting public health at risk, British-Canadian news agency Reuters reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 548 infected in Latvia, 880 in Lithuania, 1 149 in Estonia

The total number of confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 548, increasing by six in the past day.

Latvian president urges not to sort idleness benefit recipients based on tax debts

When assessing whether or not a company meets requirements for idleness benefit eligibility, Latvia’s President Egils Levits urges the government to not sort them based on tax debts.

British PM Johnson treated from COVID-19 in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in London with his COVID-19 symptoms worsening as the outbreak is claiming more lives in the United Kingdom, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Riga City Council snap elections pushed back to 5 September

The ruling coalition in Latvia has agreed to push back Riga City Council snap elections to 5 September, as journalists were told by politicians after a meeting of ruling parties on Monday, 6 April.

US death toll of COVID-19 nears 11 000

The US, which is the country with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections, has on Tuesday, April 7, reached a total number of COVID-19-related deaths of 10 986, according to the US John Hopkins University and German public broadcaster DW.

Prime Minister says Latvia will neither enhance nor relieve restrictions

We do not plan to enhance restrictive measures, but neither do we plan to relieve restrictions – the storm is not over. Nevertheless, we are on the correct path, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Spanish coronavirus death toll drops for fourth day in a row

In Spain, for the fourth day a row, the number of COVID-19 related deaths per day has decreased as the country has the most confirmed cases in infection in Europa, BBC reports.

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