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Saturday 04.04.2020 | Name days: Valda, Herta, Ārvalda, Ārvalds
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Week in Lithuania: First coronavirus case, funds needed for Rail Baltica, new NATO ambassador appointed

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 Lithuania  coronavirus  Rail Baltica  Gitanas Nausėda

In Lithuania, the top news stories last week were the first coronavirus case, more funds being needed for Rail Baltica in Lithuania and the President hitting back over criticism from predecessor.

Troops to be sent to airports, borders, events to be cancelled

Lithuania’s government has on Friday, February 28, decided to send troops to airports and borders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and also recommended cancelling mass events in the northern city of Siauliai and the district, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said. He told journalists after the government emergency situation commission’s meeting that troops would collect contact information from people arriving from virus-affected regions. The first coronavirus case was recorded in Siauliai early Friday morning after a woman, 39, tested positive for the virus after returning from Italy earlier this week. She is placed in isolation in the local hospital. The Lithuanian government declared on Wednesday, February 26, a nationwide emergency in an effort to minimise the threat of the novel coronavirus spreading into the country.

Macron’s envoy visits Vilnius

Pierre Vimont, French President Emmanuel Macron’s special envoy for strategic dialogue with Russia, held consultations with Lithuanian politicians and diplomats in Vilnius on Thursday, February 27. The ambassador met with the Lithuanian president’s foreign policy adviser, visited the Government Chancellery, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and National Defence, and had lunch with Lithuanian lawmakers. Lithuania disagrees with the position and calls for isolating Russia until it changes its aggressive behaviour in neighbouring countries and in the Middle East.

Matulionis appointed Lithuania’s NATO ambassador

President Gitanas Nausėda on Thursday, February 27, appointed Deputy Government Chancellor Deividas Matulionis as Lithuania’s permanent representative to NATO. Under the presidential decree, Matulionis will assume the new position on April 20. Matulionis started his diplomatic career in 1991 after joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He later served as Lithuania’s ambassador to Denmark and Germany, was government chancellor in 2009-2012, and was appointed Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ advisor on international policy in 2017. He has served as the government’s vice chancellor since February, 2018.

Lithuania asks more money for Rail Baltica project

Lithuania has submitted this week an application for additional funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the European standard-gauge railway project Rail Baltica’s section from Palemonas, Kaunas to Panevėžys. The total need for EU funding, stated in the application submitted by all countries, stands at 664.1 million euros, including 278.9 million euros for Lithuania, the country’s Transport Ministry says.

Ex-EU commissioner to become WHO’s special envoy for Europe

Lithuania’s former European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis is about to take office as the World Health Organization’s special envoy for the European region. He expects to formally take office on March 1. Andriukaitis’ office will be based in Copenhagen and will be in charge of 53 European states.

President hits back criticism over EU budget talks

President Gitanas Nausėda on Wednesday, February 26, hit back at criticism over EU budget talks, saying it reminds him of a Soviet-era joke where one man is working and another five are watching and giving him useless advice. Nausėda made the comment when asked what he thought about indirect criticism from his predecessor, Dalia Grybauskaitė, who said last week that since the talks in Brussels had failed, one could not speak about interim achievements. Grybauskaitė told reporters the next day that «you can’t speak about interim achievements until the negotiations are over».

Seimas board decides against probe

The Board of the Lithuanian Seimas on Wednesday, February 26, decided there’s no basis to launch a parliamentary investigation into alleged unlawful collection of information by one of the country’s institutions ensuring security. A request to launch such an investigation was last week lodged by Vytautas Bakas, former chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence.

Police chief in Lithuania’s Kaunas Žukauskas sacked

Darius Žukauskas, chief of Kaunas County Chief Police Commissariat, has been dismissed from the service after losing the right to work with classified information, the Police Department said on Wednesday, February 26. An internal investigation was launched into Žukauskas’ suspicious ties upon receipt of information during a pre-trial investigation involving Kaunas police officer Donatas Karalukas who is suspected to have taken more than 10,000 euros in bribe and covered an illegal business. According to the department, more information and evidence was collected during the internal investigation regarding Žukauskas, covering different periods, and the final decision was made taking everything into account.

Installation of Chinese CCTV in Kaunas raises security concern

The installation of a CCTV system produced by Chinese company Hikvision in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas’ public spaces is raising major concern over data protection, the Kauno Diena daily reported. The public broadcaster LRT’s investigation division reported earlier that the US public sector renounced cameras produced by this company due to security loopholes. The installation of 240 CCTV cameras in Kaunas started last fall.

Constitutional Court opens case on judges’ immunity limits

Lithuania’s Constitutional Court is on Wednesday, February 26, starting hearing a case on whether the law justly stipulates that judges can only be subjected to searches upon receipt of approval of the Seimas or president. The Seimas turned to the Constitutional Court over the issue in December. This way lawmakers responded to the Supreme Court’s clarification that judges can only be subjected to searches upon receipt of approval of the Seimas or president in between parliamentary sessions, since searches restrict a person’s freedom.

Prosecutors launch probe into Jewish leader’s insult

Lithuanian prosecutors on Tuesday, February 25, decided to launch a pre-trial investigation into incitement to hatred over an incident when Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was insulted at the Lithuanian parliament.


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airBaltic to cancel up to 50% of planned flights until November 2020

As the crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic continues in Latvia, the country’s national airline airBaltic has decided to cancel nearly 50% of planned flights until November 2020, as reported by the airline’s representative Alise Briede.

Latvian government increases penalty for breach of COVID-19 restrictions

On Thursday, 3 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments to the Latvian Code of Administrative Violations in the final reading. The new changes increase the fine for violation of epidemiological security requirements, as well as restrictions imposed for the duration of the state of emergency in the country.

Estonian government to help local governments with supplementary budget

The Estonian government has submitted to legislators a supplementary budget aimed at allocating to local governments 30 million euros and another 100 million to help continue economic activity in the country, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Home. Soap. Two metres – SPKC reminds residents of the main safety measures

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads through direct contact with an infected person through droplets when a person sneezes of coughs, or by touching surfaces the infected person had previously sneezed or coughed on.

Belarus rejects Lithuania’s worries about alleged hiding of COVID-19 data

Minsk has rejected the concern voiced by Lithuania that alleged inadequate reaction to the spread of COVID-19 in Belarus could turn the country into a hotspot, which endangers Lithuania, LRT reports.

COVID-19 pandemic and corruption risks. How can government and society defend against them?

During a state of emergency, it is important for the Saeima, Cabinet of Ministers, Crisis Management Council and other officials to make decisions quickly and ensure completion. However, in such a situation there is a risk of dishonest officials abusing their powers for personal gain, risking the quality of democracy.

First death from COVID-19 confirmed in Latvia

The first death from COVID-19 coronavirus has been found in Latvia, as reported by public media lsm.lv.

UN General Assembly calls for closer cooperation to contain pandemic

World’s nations in the UN General Assembly have unanimously passed a resolution confirming the unprecedented effects of COVID-19 and calling countries for increased cooperation, Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 493 infection cases in Latvia, 696 in Lithuania, 961 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Latvia has reached 493, increasing by 35 in the past day. Lithuania, meanwhile, reports 696 confirmed cases. According to the latest information from Estonia, the number of confirmed infection cases there has reached 858.

Budget revenue in Latvia approximately 7% behind plan in March

With the spread of COVID-19 crisis in March Latvia’s state budget revenue has dropped 7.2% behind the plan, according to unofficial information from LETA.

Global number of COVID-19 cases exceeds one million

Globally, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has exceeded one million and the death toll related to the infectious disease is 52 500, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Latvia prohibits exports of medicines needed during state of emergency

Exports of medicines vital for the domestic market during state of emergency will be prohibited in Latvia, according to the order published in the Latvian Herald by Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele.

COVID-19 prompts Latvian government to involve army in border patrol with Belarus

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks has issued an order for Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) to provide support to the State Border Guard by sending national guardsmen to organize additional patrolling of the Latvian-Belarusian border, as confirmed by the minister.

Lithuania puts COVID-19-related prosecution above human rights

What should come first in a time of emergency like the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Obviously, order, but what about human rights?

Idleness rules will apply to companies with tax debts in Latvia

The idleness regulations in Latvia will apply to companies with tax debts, as provided by amendments to Latvian government rules approved on Thursday, 2 April, to rules on companies affected by COVID-19 and who qualify for idleness support and other benefits.

Court to enforce nearly 12 000 euros from Gobzems for defaming Bunkus family

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has partially satisfied the plea from the surviving members of the family of the murdered lawyer Mārtiņš Bunkus against Saeima deputy Aldis Gobzems over defamation. The court has decided to enforce EUR 11 833 from him, as confirmed from the deputy.

Spain registers unprecedented job loss as lethal cases of COVID-19 exceed 10 000

In Spain, nearly 900,000 jobs have been lost since mid-March during strict measures to fight the coronavirus. 10,000 Spaniards have died from the virus disease, BBC reports.

Emīls Jakrins becomes board chairman of restaurant business company Vincents

Ex-Riga City Council’s Transport Department’s head Emīls Jakrins has become board chairman of architecture, design and restaurant business company LLC Vincents, according to information from Firmas.lv.

Jānis Vitenbergs approved in Latvia’s Economy Minister's post

On Thursday, 2 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved parliamentarian Jānis Vitenbergs as the country’s economy minister.

Large mine closes in Estonia after one of 800 miners tested positive for COVID-19

In Estonia, it has been decided to close one of two large oil shale mines after one miner tested positive for COVID-19, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 458 cases in Latvia, 649 in Lithuania, 858 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 458, growing by 12 cases in the past day. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 649 confirmed coronavirus infection cases.

Germany to keep gathering restrictions past Easter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany is far from being over as the government extended its strict rules for gathering in public places until April 19, DW reports.

Shuttle buses and express buses on hold in Riga

LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has decided to shut down shuttle bus services on all routes in Riga until the state of emergency in Latvia is over, as confirmed by RMS.

Latvian government to finance COVID-19 crisis prevention efforts from state budget

Efforts to overcome the direct negative effects from COVID-10 crisis will be financed from the state budget. After the crisis, however, the economy will be stimulated using EU funds, as decided by Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ led work group for support of entrepreneurship and the employed on Wednesday, 1 April.

EU planning lending programme to support temporary work schemes

EU member states would guarantee the creation of a fund up to 100 billion euros aimed at providing loans to governments to support workers in countries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission plans, according to EurActiv.


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