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Saturday 22.02.2020 | Name days: Rigonda, Adrians, Ārija

Week in Lithuania: Grybauskaitė invited to think tank, push for 2nd vote on Speaker

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Lithuanian Seaimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis

Last week in Lithuania ex-President invited to join think tank, LFGU sought 2nd vote on Speaker’s removal, court reduced pro-Russian Councillor’s fine,  and Order and Justice leader was urged to step down.

Army helicopter saves injured Russian citizen from tanker

A Lithuanian army helicopter saved an injured Russian citizen from a tanker, Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defense said on Friday, October 18. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Center received a call at around 2 a.m. that a crew member of the Moskovsky Prospect tanker needed medical assistance. A rescue operation was launched and a Dauphin helicopter of Lithuania’s Air Force was dispatched. The injured Russian citizen, 32, was taken to a hospital in Lithuania’s port of Klaipeda.

President Nausėda disappointed at EU decision

President Gitanas Nausėda has expressed his disappointment after EU leaders failed this week to invite North Macedonia and Albania to start membership negotiations. His comments came early Friday morning in response to the end of Brussels talks on possible expansion to Western Balkans without any agreement. Diplomats say France was against the invitation of both countries, and Denmark and The Netherlands would have agreed only to the invitation of North Macedonia, but not Albania.

Ex-Lithuanian President invited to join Friends of Europe

Former President Dalia Grybauskaitė agreed on Thursday, October 17, to join the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Europe think tank. Its Board of Trustees involves incumbent and former heads of state and government, EC leaders and European commissioners, former EC Vice President Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, ex-Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bild, ex-Estonia President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, ex-NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer etc.

Court cuts Titov’s fine in partisan leader’s defamation case

The Regional Court of Lithuania’s western city of Klaipeda on Thursday, October 17, reduced the 12,000 euro fine issued to Viačeslav Titov, a local councilor, by a court of lower instance for the defamation of the memory of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, one of the leaders of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisan resistance. The fine was reduced to 10,000 euros. In May, the Klaipėda District Court found Titov guilty of the defamation of the memory of a deceased person, incitement to hatred, and public approval or denial of Soviet crimes.

Conservatives’ leader: defense spending deal breached

An agreement that Lithuania’s parliamentary parties signed a year ago to set out the country’s defense policy for the next decade is not being implemented, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, said on Thursday, October 17. All parliamentary parties, except for the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), agreed a year ago to increase defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030 at the latest.

Ruling LFGU to seek second vote on Speaker’s removal

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union will seek to hold a second vote in the parliament on Tuesday, October 22, to repeat the removal procedure for Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis. In total, 60 members of the Seimas voted in favor of expressing no-confidence in the vote calculation group on Thursday, eight were against and two abstained.

Seimas starts debating spy swap amendment

 Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has started debating a draft amendment to the Criminal Code that would give country’s President right to pardon persons convicted of espionage. The amendment passed the first reading in the Seimas with 100 votes in favor and five abstentions on Thursday, October 17, and is to return to the parliament for a plenary debate on October 22. It needs to be voted on three times to be adopted.

LFGU leader urges Order and Justice leader to step down

Ramunas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), says Remigijus Žemaitaitis, the Order and Justice Party’s leader, betrayed the ruling bloc when he backed on Tuesday, October 15, an initiative to call an emergency plenary sitting to vote on Viktoras Pranckietis’ removal as the speaker of the Seimas. Therefore, the coalition is urging Žemaitaitis to step down as vice-speaker of the Seimas immediately, or will remove him by secret ballot, Karbauskis said on Wednesday, October 16.

Cabinet approves new car pollution tax

The Lithuanian Cabinet approved on Wednesday, October 16, a new tax aimed at encouraging people to buy less polluting cars and facilitating the renewal of the country’s ageing vehicle fleet, Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika said. The absence of such a tax on cars is a key reason why that fleet is old and polluting now, according to the minister. If endorsed by the parliament, the new tax will be introduced next year. A levy ranging from several tens of euros to 1,400 euros per car will be charged every time a car is registered or reregistered.

Cabinet approves excise tax hikes

The Lithuanian Cabinet decided on Wednesday, October 16, to raise the excise duties on strong alcohol, diesel fuel and heated tobacco in March 2020. Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka says the excise duty hikes aim to expand the base of taxes less detrimental to economic growth, and to promote a healthy lifestyle. The excise tax rates are set to increase by 68 per cent for heated tobacco (from the current 58.6 euros to 113.2 euros per kilogram), by 10.5 per cent for ethyl alcohol, by 7.3 per cent for gasoline, by 7.2 per cent for diesel fuel, and by 44.6 per cent for diesel fuel used for agricultural purposes.

New measures to block Astravyets electricity proposed

President Gitanas Nausėda on Wednesday, October 16, proposed new measures to block imports of electricity produced at the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus. The proposed amendments would allow canceling electricity import permits immediately and not issuing new ones for power imports from third countries with nuclear power plants deemed unsafe from the very beginning of their operation, the statement reads.

 LFGU decide to delegate its leader to Seimas leadership

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) has decided to delegate Ramunas Karbauskis, its chairman, to the Seimas leadership, but is not clear yet if he will seek the speaker’s chair or that of vice-speaker, Rima Baškienė and Arvydas Nekrošius, LFGU MPs, said on Tuesday, October 15.

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Financial Action Task Force decides to not add Latvia to its «grey list»

The world’s central anti-money laundering organization Financial Action Task Force has decided to not exercise increased monitoring of Latvia. This means the country will not be added to the organization’s «grey list», as LETA was informed by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s office.

Latvian minister outlines Germany as an important strategic partner

Germany is a strategically important economic partner for Latvia, said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs during his meeting with Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier on Friday, 21 February.

Access to illegal TV content denied to 11 000 Latvian households last year

In 2019 access to illegal TV content in Latvia was denied to 11 000 households. A dozen criminal processes have been commenced over illegal supply of audiovisual content, as reported by State Police.

Producer price level in Latvia’s industry down 1.3%

Compared to December 2019, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry didn't change in January 2020. Prices of products sold on the domestic market reduced by 0.7 %, but prices of exported products – increased by 0.7 %.

In China, coronavirus hits prisons as 500 prisoners and guards infected

In China, the outbreak of the dangerous coronavirus continues, over 500 cases of infections have been registered in prisons. Meanwhile, death toll from health problems related to the virus has reached 2 236, according to The Guardian.

Saudi Arabia provides Latvian companies stable tax regime

Latvia and Saudi Arabia have plans to provide businesses with stable tax regimes for companies working in each respective country without coverage from the other country’s regulations, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Estonia accuses Russia over large cyberattack against Georgia

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu has stated that Estonia, just as Georgia and a number of Western countries, sees a Russian intelligence service as having perpetrated a large cyberattack on Georgia in autumn 2019, according to a statement on the web site of the Estonian Foreign Ministry.

Latvian Healthcare Ministry puts third stage of e-health project on hold

Healthcare Ministry plans to focus on existing e-health services and will not develop their next stage, said minister llze Viņķele at a press-briefing on Friday, 21 February.

Latvian Saeima decides to reduce planned excise tax rise for alcohol

The increase of excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages planned for 1 March will be more moderate. This much is provided by amendments to the Law on Excise Duties approved in the final reading by the Saeima on Thursday, 20 February, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Irish PM Varadkar loses confidence of parliament

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has stepped down from office after he failed to win the confidence of the majority of the new composition of the Irish legislature, British news portal The Guardian reports.

National Electronic Mass Media Council agrees on members’ duties

Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council, following the election of two new council members, has agreed on duties of members, as confirmed by newly-elected NEPLP members in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Shareholder Juris Radzevičs dismisses Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks board member

Juris Radzevičs, who is a shareholder in LLC Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks has dismissed RNP board member Ardis Pāvilsons, as LETA was told by the official.

Germany remembers victims of Hanau shooting; attacks investigated as terrorism

In Germany, the death toll of the Hanau shooting attacks has risen to nine people. Police has pointed to a possibly racist mindset of the suspected attacker and is investigating the crimes as terrorism, BBC and DW report.

Experts predict number of electric vehicles in Latvia exceeding 36 000 by 2030

There will be more than 36 000 electric vehicles in Latvia by 2030. This prediction was voiced by AS Latvenergo board member Kaspars Cikmačs during Clear Energy for Transports conference on Thursday, 20 February.

Highest volume of harvested grains recorded in Latvia’s history in 2019

In 2019 the highest harvested production of grain was recorded – 3.2 million tonnes, which is 1.1 million tonnes or 1.5 times more than a year ago.

Denmark cancels Misāne’s extradition to SAR in favour of extradition to Latvia

On Thursday, 20 February, the Danish court approved the decision of the Danish office of the prosecutor to cancel Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne’s extradition to the South African Republic. On top of that, the Danish office of the prosecutor has also decided to extradite the woman to Latvia instead, as reported by Ritzau.

Warmest winter anyone can remember is wreaking havoc on Lithuania’s nature and store shelves

This winter, so abnormally warm in Lithuania, is bewildering everyone and is wreaking havoc both in the nature and on the store shelves.

Finnish court acquits Baltic online alcohol seller over tax evasion

A court in Finland has delivered a not guilty ruling in a case, where a man had been charged with tax evasion over the online sale of alcohol to Finns in Latvia and Estonia, using online platforms, Finnish broadcaster YLE reports.

Latvian Saeima committee to consider initiative to establish a park at former Marss cycling track

On Thursday, 20 February, the Saeima decided to submit the collective initiative on establishing a part on the territory of the former cycling track Marss to the parliament’s National Security Committee for review, BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Ruling in Maxima tragedy criminal case to be appealed

Riga City Pārdaugava Court’s ruling in the Maxima tragedy criminal case will definitely be appealed, said senior prosecutor Aivars Ostapko in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Thursday, 20 February.

Proposal voiced to deny Aivars Lembergs the option to enter the Saeima

A proposal has been voiced to deny suspended Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes and is added to the list of sanctions of USA, the right to participate in Saeima’s activities, according to information from LTV.

Latvian police liquidates fake news site Employee detained

Latvian State Police has detained a 2001-born young man for reporting fake news, BNN was informed by police.

Cyber security drill held by Estonia in NATO Parliamentary Assembly

In Brussels, during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Estonian experts have held a strategic cyber drill, where member state legislators have been asked to look for solutions in a simulated cyber incident, ERR reports.

Turkey warns of military operation in Syria to stop government-Russian forces

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that Turkey’s offensive in north-eastern Syria could start at any moment with the aim of stopping an offensive of the Syrian government and Russian forces on opposition-controlled territory, BBC reports.

Riga Zoological Garden board members Līdaka and Morozovs laid off

Both Riga National Zoological Garden’s chairman of the board Ingmārs Līdaka and board member Andris Morozovs have been fired from their respective posts, as confirmed by Līdaka.

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