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Sunday 18.11.2018 | Name days: Doloresa, Aleksandrs
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Week in Lithuania. Government to send revised martial law bill to Parliament

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Lithuanian troops along with the other troops from 11 NATO nations take part in the exercise in urban warfare during exercise in the mock town near Pabrade, Lithuania

The Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday, October 31, to submit a package of legislative amendments aimed at clarifying the legal regulation of martial law to the Parliament for approval.

The Defence Ministry says the proposed amendments would help ensure a smooth transition from a peacetime legal regime to a wartime one, fast decision-making and smooth functioning of public authorities and economic entities under a state of war. The bill provides for launching armed defence immediately after the signing of the respective presidential decree or Seimas resolution, without waiting for the document to be made public and take effect, as it is now. Partisan units would automatically become part of the armed forces. It is proposed that partisan units should be assigned to the armed forces by the commander-in-chief or a person authorized by him or her, or, in the absence of such a person, by the command of the national resistance command.

Government okays evacuation plan in case of accident at Belarus’ N-plant

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, October 31, a plan for the evacuation of people in the event of an accident at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant under construction in neighbouring Belarus some 50 kilometres from Vilnius. The plan calls for evacuating 6,000 Lithuanian residents living within 30 kilometres from Astravyets in case of a major accident at the facility. The Interior Ministry says the plan has been worked out taking into consideration the most adverse circumstances of an incident at the plant, such as its magnitude and unfavourable weather conditions.

PM rejects president’s criticism

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis rejected on Wednesday, October 31, criticism from President Dalia Grybauskaite’s office over the pace of defence budget growth. The government proposes to increase defence spending to 948 million euros next year, from 873 million euros this year. Based on the latest economic projections, this would account for 2.01 percent of GDP. The president-led State Defence Council agreed last spring that defence funding should reach 2.05 percent of GDP in 2019. Skvernelis attributes the difference in relative figures to economic growth estimates being higher than earlier projected.

Lithuania climbs to highest-ever place in WB rankings

Lithuania rose two notches to its highest-ever 14th position in the World Bank’s latest ranking of 190 economies on the ease of doing business, up from number 16 last year. In the Doing Business 2019 report, Lithuania outperformed both Latvia and Estonia, in 19th and 16th places, respectively. For the third year in a row, Lithuania’s best score is for the ease of registering property, at number three in the world. Also, it is ranked seventh in terms of enforcing contracts. Lithuania has been rated on the index since 2004. Its highest rating so far was number 15 in in 2005.

Court orders MG Baltic owner to pay taxes

Darius Mockus, president and the sole shareholder of the MG Baltic business group, has been ordered this week by a Vilnius court to pay the state almost 2 million euros in taxes for the shares in Minvista, an investment company, he and his wife sold several years ago. Vilnius Regional Administrative Court on Wednesday, October 31, rejected the Mockus’ appeal in a dispute with the State Tax Inspectorate. The court believes Mockus and his wife wanted to evade taxes by abusing the rights provided for by law. The dispute is related to a transaction, carried out on the last day of 2013, when Darius Mockus and his wife Ina sold their shares in Minvista to MG Baltic. The shares were sold on the last day of the year when a personal income tax credit stating that securities bought before 1999 and sold until that day are non-taxable, was still in place. The MG Baltic is also charged in a political corruption case in Lithuania, with its former vice president Raimondas Kurlianskis being among the defendants.

Slowdown signs are visible

Lithuania’s central banker says he sees no clear signs of an upcoming new economic crisis but warns about slowing growth. Vitas Vasiliauskas, the Bank’s chief, acknowledges that the “income turning to expenses” continues, although differently from ten years ago. According to him, the Bank’s assessment is based on how the 2019 budget numbers.

Activists draw President’s attention on China

Tibet’s supporters called on President Dalia Grybauskaite ahead of her visit to China this week to pay attention to human rights violations in China. Human rights activists on Friday held a symbolic farewell ceremony for the Lithuanian president outside the Presidential Palace. The Lithuanian leader was scheduled to meet with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and attend China’s first imports exhibition.

Small Planet Airlines in trouble

Small Planet Airlines which has filed for restructuring has a month to submit its updated business plan to the country’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAA). CAA Director Joris Gintilas says the airline’s future outlook will depend, among other factors, on the next steps by its key partners in Lithuania, the tour operators Novaturas and Tez Tour. Planet Airlines announced that it had filed for restructuring in Lithuania after launching the restructuring of its Polish and German subsidiaries due to financial difficulties. It says an investor is not necessary in Lithuania, but the company is still looking for one.

Wizz Air’s Vilnius-London plane forced to land

A Wizz Air plane en route from Vilnius to London’s Luton was on Monday, October 29, forced to land in Berlin due to a technical problem which came up during the flight. The plane landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. It said the plane underwent mandatory technical inspection, and it was decided to continue the flight on Tuesday, using another plane to minimize the delay.

Vilnius’ Paneriai Memorial to build new visitor centre

The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum plans to build a new visitor centre at the Paneriai Memorial Complex on the outskirts of Vilnius within the next few years and to continue updating its exhibitions. Markas Zingeris, the museum’s director, said this week that geophysical and archaeological research of recent years has led to major discoveries, including locating an escape tunnel dug in the Paneriai forest and finding nine new mass murder pits. According to Zingeris, research has revealed that the area where mass killings took place was four times as large as Soviet-era official figures suggested. Research of recent years, based on analyses of German reports of the time and other historical sources, has revealed that the Nazis and their local collaborators shot between 50,000 and 70,000 people, mostly Jews, in Paneriai in 1941 to 1944.


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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian government approves rules for paying whistleblowers

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, November 14, rules for financially rewarding people who provide the authorities with valuable information on illegal activities.

BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia, Brexit plans, and Latvia’s 100th birthday

If someone hoped to see Latvia compile a government before the national holiday, they are going to be disappointed – three parties have decided to exit government formation talks headed by New Conservative Party. NCP’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns receive criticism for having too ambitious and expensive goals. NCP, on the other hand, says parties did not try to study the party’s offers.

PUC commences dispute between AS Gaso and natural gas consumer

On Friday, 16 November, Public Utilities Commission decided to commence a dispute procedure between a natural gas consumer and AS Gaso in regards to natural gas supplies, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvian parties continue informal talks while next prime minister is being picked

While President Raimonds Vējonis is busy picking the next prime minister candidate, politicians of different parties are performing informal consultations. No official consultations are currently planned.

UN's global migration compact stirs up Estonia's calm politics

The Estonian government has taken a long time to reach a unanimous position on the United Nation's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This has been criticised by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who has to attend a conference in favour of the document in Morocco in December.

Latvian authorities detain CityCommerce Bank co-owner accused of embezzlement

Reinis Tumovs, co-owner of Ukrainian CityCommerce Bank, has been detained in Latvia. He is suspected of embezzling nearly UAH 300 million (EUR 9.5 million), as confirmed by Ukrainian National Police Economy Protection Department on Thursday, 15 November.

Russia ordered to pay damages for Navalny's political arrests by human rights court

Russia has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to repay 64 000 euros in damages and costs for politically-motivated arrests of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Latvian president to consider Gobzems and Pabriks as perspective prime minister candidates

As parties’ efforts to form a new government continue, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis plans to consider two new prime minister candidates – KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems and Attīstībai/Par! candidate Artis Pabriks.

EC wants to reduce funding for supplies of fruits, vegetables and milk to schools

European Commission’s proposed regulation on organization of agriculture products market provides for reducing EU funding for the support programme on provision of fruits, vegetables and milk for schools by EUR 29.2 million or the same as United Kingdom’s share.

Genocide verdicts handed to Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia

In Cambodia, the two most senior living leaders of the Khmer Rouge Communist regime have been found guilty of their role in the atrocities that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.7 million in Cambodia between 1977 and 1979.

Latvian parties pick candidates to work in Saeima committees

Parties elected to the 13th Saeima have picked representatives to work in the parliament’s standing committees. Final decision will be made 20 November. Harmony may be represented by deputies Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Attīstībai/Par! has picked Artis Pabriks, and Union of Greens and Farmers has picked Uldis Augulis.

EU leaders: No appetite for renegotiating Brexit deal

EU leaders have dismissed talk of renegotiating the draft Brexit deal and warned the UK's political situation could make a «no-deal» more likely.

Some rain expected for Latvia’s centenary; cold snap expected next week

The sky will become clear every now and then. Still, some rain is expected for the country’s centenary. Wet snow is expected in the country’s eastern regions. It will be dry in the country for the most part next week, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian ministry plans to form Media Ethics Council and develop Latvian Media Ethics Code

Culture Ministry has proposed forming Media Ethics Council. The majority of institutions of the media industry have started working on a self-regulatory council and development of a Single Latvian Media Ethics Code, as reported by the ministry’s public relations office manager Lita Kokale.

Harmony picks representatives in Saeima’s committees

Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins may become Harmony’s representatives in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee, whereas Valērijs Agešins may become the party’s representative in the National Security Committee.

Lithuania’s corruption buster: firms donating to hospitals stand better chance in tenders

The majority of the winners of the tenders organised by major Lithuanian hospitals have expressed their gratitude to the health providers by making donations to them in the form of financial support.

Employment level in Latvia reached 65.3% in Q3 2018

920.1 thousand people or 65.3 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in Q3 2018. Over the year, employment rate grew by 1.7 percentage points and number of employed persons by 17.2 thousand.

Unemployment level in Latvia was 7% in Q3 2018

In Q3 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.0 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points, while over the year by 1.5 percentage points.

AS PKL Flote enforces EUR 1.35 million from Riga Freeport authority in court

The Department of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court has ruled that the verdict of Riga Regional Court – one that penalized Riga Freeport authority for breach of Competition Law against PKL Flote – was correct. Now Riga Freeport has ten days, starting with 13 November, to pay the company EUR 1.35 million to cover damages caused by this violation, BNN was told by PKL Flote board chairman Sergejs Odincovs.

British government loses two more members; EU sets date for Brexit summit

In the UK government, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and Northern Ireland's junior minister have resigned in disagreement with the country's draft withdrawal agreement with the EU, already passed by the government.

Saeima deputy: data protection regulation will not protect «KGB associates»

Documents detailing KGB workers’ names, nationality, work place, participation in the Communist party are not covered by the Personal Data Protection Regulation, stresses Saeima deputy Ritvars Jansons from the National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’.

EP: Moldova and Georgia should continue initiated reforms

Members of the European Parliament welcome the reforms Georgia has commenced. At the same time, Moldova was criticized for its worsened state of democracy and rule of law, as reported by EP press-secretary in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Germany economy shrinks for first time in three years

Germany economy has contracted by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2018, a first such result in the largest economy of the European Union in over three years.

Latvian president gives parties holiday break to continue talks

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis calls off nomination of NCP candidate Jānis Bordāns to for government. Talks regarding the next prime minister candidate will continue after the state holiday.

Ireland satisfied with Brexit draft deal in every priority

The government of Ireland has stated that draft withdrawal agreement between Irish neighbour, the UK, and the European Union, Dublin had achieved a satisfying result in all its priorities, also regarding the border on the island of Ireland.

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