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Friday 23.08.2019 | Name days: Valgudis, Ralfs, Vitālijs

Week in Lithuania. Georgia, Lithuania to cooperate in cyber security

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė (right) and Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili

Lithuania and Georgia plan to cooperate in the area of cyber security by sharing experience and exchanging information about threats and incidents.

A corresponding bilateral declaration of intent has been signed by Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė and visiting Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili during their visit to the National Cyber Security Centre in Vilnius on Friday, March 8.

Parliamentary committee opines on date of dual citizenship referendum

The Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs is suggesting holding dual citizenship referendum on May 12. On Wednesday, March 6, the committee decided to register such a proposal after debating the Constitutional Court’s recent ruling that a referendum must be held one day. Earlier, the Seimas wanted to hold the dual citizenship on two separate days two weeks apart, alongside the first and second rounds of voting in the upcoming presidential election, but the Constitutional Court ruled such plans unconstitutional.

On May 12, the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union is also organising a referendum on cutting the number of lawmakers from 141 to 121.

PM signs letter to Belarusian counterpart

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Thursday, March 7, signed a letter to his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Rumas, containing his proposal to convert its almost-complete Astravyets nuclear power plant into a natural gas-fuelled combined heat and power plant which could be supplied with gas via the LNG terminal in Lithuania’s western port of Klaipėda and a planned Lithuanian-Polish gas link.

Minister wants more attention to social services

Lithuanian Social Security and Labour Minister Linas Kukuraitis has slammed some local municipal authorities for using social protection funds for other purposes. According to him, while more than 200 million euros are allocated for social assistance, over 60 million euros are actually given to people, which is just too little, according to him. Kukuraitis says social services, an area of municipal competence, were given too little attention in discussions during recent municipal elections.

Hollywood star Rūta Lee visits Vilnius

Rūta Lee, a Hollywood actor of Lithuanian descent who was granted Lithuanian citizenship several weeks ago, visited Vilnius on Thursday, March 7. She met with Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius on Thursday and to took part in a women’s conference on Friday. Born to Lithuanian emigrants in Canada, the 82-year-old actor has lived in the United States since 1948. She acted in around 100 films and received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.

Vilnius elects gay councillor

Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, a homosexual activist elected as a member of the City Council of Vilnius, plans to take steps to make the Lithuanian capital friendlier to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The 30-year-old ran for councillor as a member of a public election committee led by Remigijus Šimašius, who is seeking a second term as Vilnius mayor. Raskevičius received 2,894 votes, coming in at number eleven on the committee’s list, slightly down from number nine on the pre-election list. The Šimašius-led committee won 17 seats in the council and the mayor himself advanced into a run-off election.

Lithuanians’ financial literacy is mediocre, survey finds

Lithuanians are financially literate enough to handle their everyday finances, but they are not good at understanding economic issues and have a poor knowledge of retirement planning, according to a survey commissioned by the Lithuanian Banks’ Association (LBA).The survey put the financial literacy index at 43 out of 100 points, which means that the population has only some basic knowledge of finances.

Court rejects journalists’ request

A Vilnius court rejected on Wednesday, March 6, journalists’ request to order the government to release the audio recording of a Cabinet meeting. The Lithuanian Journalists’ Union (LJU) and journalists from several media outlets turned to the court after the government refused to give them the audio recording of the Cabinet’s October 3, 2018 meeting in which the ministers discussed legislative amendments to give the media free access to registry data.

Since discussion during the Cabinet’s meetings where no formal decisions are adopted reflect only preliminary positions by politicians, the minutes of such meetings are sufficient to ensure the public’s right to know, the court ruled. Following the row with the media, the government initiated amendments to make all Cabinet meetings public. These amendments came into force in January.

Authorities need to fill shortage of judges

Lithuanian lawmakers are considering amending laws to ensure the smooth functioning of courts after a large-scale judicial corruption probe that led to the suspension of eight judges has exposed a shortage of judges. The parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (CLA) discussed the issue at a closed meeting on Wednesday, March 6. Eight judges of various instance courts have been charged of different corruption crimes, including bribery, influence peddling and abuse of power. Some of them are still behind bars.

Ministry calls tender for new military facilities

Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence on Wednesday, March 6, called a tender for the construction of three new military facilities in the city of Siauliai and also Šilalė and Vilnius Districts, with the total planned investment standing at around 126 million euros.

The projects are planned to be completed through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).Negotiations with potential investors or an investor will start in 2019-2020 and a 15-year partnership contact will be signed in late 2020.

HU-LCD chief calls for Orban-led Fidesz’s EPP removal

Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), has called for the removal of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban-led Fidesz party from the European People’s Party due to his antidemocratic behaviour.

Having received approval from the party’s presidium, he sent a letter to EPP chairman Joseph Daul several days ago, proposing «to start evaluation of the Fidesz membership in the EPP». In his words, the Hungarian government’s actions have long been raising concern over the violations of the freedom of speech, academic freedom and the rule of law.

President warns of tensions in the Parliament

President Dalia Grybauskaitė warned on Tuesday, March 5, that the upcoming presidential and European Parliament elections will create tensions in the Seimas during its spring session that is starting in less than a week’s time, and chided the government for stalling reforms.

The Seimas’ spring session will open on March 10 and close on June 30. The presidential and European Parliament elections will be held in May.

Police say municipal elections were calm

Lithuanian police launched much fewer pre-trial investigations during last Sunday’s municipal elections than they did four years ago, Deputy Police Commissioner General Edvardas Šileris said on Monday, March 4. According to him, police started 11 pre-trial investigations, three times as few as in 2015.

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Turn in high-profile court saga: Ventspils mayor receives state lawyer

The mayor of the Latvian port city Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs, who is charged with serious crimes and has been suspended from office, has been appointed a state lawyer in the long court process that has had many delays.

No obstacles to Riga signing waste contract on 20 years, says ministry, despite probe

Latvian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development has stated that the plan by the Riga City Council to award a waste management contract on 20 years is not against the law, despite competition regulator investigating alleged violations.

Riga pledges to increase use of Latvian in its kindergartens

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France supports new, short Brexit talks for UK to leave with deal

Emmanuel Macron of France supported new, month-long Brexit negotiations to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but was against the removal of the Irish backstop from the deal – a key demand by his guest British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Lithuania backs Sinkevičius as European Commission nominee

The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, August 22, voted to support Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Lithuanian Minister of the Economy and Innovation, as the country’s pick for the next European Commission.

New member of Riga Freeport board rushes to meet controversial Šlesers, TV3 Ziņas says

Riga councilman Sandris Bergmanis has a day after being elected to the board of the Freeport of Riga Authority met with businessman and former Latvian minister Ainārs Šlesers, according to the news programme TV3 Ziņas.

Latvian power production drops to lowest level in year

Energy companies in Latvia produced 357 655 megawatt hours of power in July, which is the lowest level of national power output since July 2018. This allowed to cover 64% of the Latvian electricity consumption, according to AS Augstsprieguma tīkls.

Compensation payments of defunct Latvian PNB Banka begin

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Riga planning to introduce tourist fee – one euro per day

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Expert: With Belarus electricity freezing Baltics’ solidarity, Moscow is over the moon

In a blow to Lithuania’s far-reaching plans, Latvia has announced it looks forward to buying electricity from a nuclear power plant in Belarus’ Astravyets under construction 50 kilometres away from Vilnius.

WHO: Little risk from microplastics in drinking water

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Subsidies to controversial Riga transport company could increase by EUR 20 mln

Amid the criticism of the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme for its losses and their effect on the Latvian state budget, a plan has been voiced to increase its subsidies, now 120 million euros, by another 20 million euros, Latvian Radio reports.

Latvian Minister keeping adviser detained by corruption watchdog for now

Latvian Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards will clarify the reason, why his advisor and the mayor of the city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, has been detained by corruption investigators, to decide on keeping him in office.

Trump, Macron willing to readmit Russia to G7, despite Crimea annexation

The leaders of France and the United States have expressed their backing to readmitting Russia to the G7 conference of world powers in 2020, despite Ukraine’s Crimea still being held by Moscow, CNN reports.

Latvian excise tax income up by 8% in first half of 2018

The Latvian excise tax income in the first half of 2019 has been 521 million euros, –an increase by 39 million euros, or 8.1% – compared to the respective period last year, showed data by the Latvian State Revenue Service.

Latvian PM: Most of freely available 2020 budget funds already earmarked

Discussing the 2020 Latvian national budget, Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš pointed out that its fiscal space is limited by previous decisions and that the expected losses of the Riga transport company will not permit raising wages and pensions nationally.

Corruption watchdog detains Ogre city mayor Helmanis

The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has on Wednesday detained the mayor of central Latvian city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, according to LETA news agency.

New members to Freeport of Riga Authority elected, despite criticism

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Italy loses government, coalition of right-wing, anti-establishment parties collapses

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Kaljulaid opposed to Estonian minister after police chief scandal

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Planned Latvian economic cases’ court conceptually backed by government

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Riga deputy mayor posts go to Harmony and independent politician

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Latvia charges energy company executives for attempted fraud

Two board members of Latvian power company SIA Rīgas enerģija have been charged in a criminal case for an attempt to acquire with deceit the rights to supply electricity as part of the mandatory procurement component programme.

Consumer protection: 34% of Latvians admit post-vacation financial difficulties

During vacation, 77% of Latvians spend more money than planned, but 34% admit having trouble making ends meet after vacation, according to a poll by the Latvian Consumer Protection Centre.

Firms like Riga transport company to be banned from working with losses, minister says

As the European Union’s statisticians have classified the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme in the debt of the national budget, it is planned in Latvia to prohibit such companies from working with losses, Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs has told LNT 900 sekundes programme.

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