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Saturday 29.02.2020 | Name days:

Week in Lithuania: High-ranking judges dismissed, Achema loses EU court case, Lithuania’s EC Commissioner proposed

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

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Last week in and about Lithuania, the top developments were the dismissal of two high-ranking judges, the formation of a new political group in Seimas and the Human Rights Court agreeing to Soviet repressions against Lithuanian partisans as genocide.

Strasbourg court upholds ruling on Soviet genocide in Lithuania

The European Court of Human Rights Tuesday, September 10, rejected an appeal against a landmark ruling that Soviet repressions against Lithuanian partisans can be treated as genocide. A panel of five judges concluded the ruling must come into force as there’s no basis for a referral to the Grand Chamber. Such a request had been submitted by Kęstutis Rakauskas, the defense lawyer of Stanislovas Drelingas, the former KGB officer convicted of genocide in Lithuania who took part in the detention operation of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, one of Lithuanian partisan leaders, in Kaunas in 1956. Lithuanian courts earlier found Drelingas guilty of genocide for his participation in a secret operation to detain Ramanauskas-Vanagas. A panel of seven ECHR judges ruled in March that the judgment did not violate the former KGB officer’s rights.

Seimas makes adjournment in embattled MP’s case

The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, September 12, voted to adjourn the issue of carrying out an investigation into MP Irina Rozova’s ties with Russian diplomats. Lithuania’s parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense earlier proposed carrying out an investigation into MP Irina Rozova’s ties with Russian diplomats and also into the actions of politicians who had information on that.

Seimas okays dismissal of two judges

Seimas, Lithuanian legislature, on Thursday, September 12, backed President Gitanas Nausėda’s proposal to dismiss two judges of the country’s Court of Appeal. Judge Kestutis Jucys will be dismissed in response to his own request, and Judge Konstantinas Gurinas will be sacked for the humiliation of a judge’s name. The two judges are involved in a high-profile judicial corruption case.

Lithuania’s Achema loses EU court case

 The EU General Court on Thursday, September 12, rejected an appeal by Achema, a Lithuanian fertilizer producer which is part of the Achema business group, over state aid for the Klaipeda-based LNG terminal. The court confirmed that the whole coordination with the European Commission on the state aid 6-7 years ago was lawful, including the chosen size of the LNG terminal and the project’s implementation and funding model, Lithuania’s Ministry of Energy said. Unhappy with the European Commission’s 2013 decision to support the LNG terminal in Lithuania, Achema, the largest gas consumer in Lithuania, initiated a case against the EC in July, 2016.

Lithuania’s PPO chief asks to be dismissed

 Diana Vilytė, the head of Lithuania’s Public Procurement Office, has handed in her request to be dismissed, explaining she wants to change her job. Vilytė has led the PPO since 2014. She was appointed for a second them by the ten President Dalia Grybauskaitė in December, 2018.

New political group formed in Seimas

The formation of a new political group in the Lithuanian parliament was on Wednesday, September 11, announced during a plenary sitting on Thursday. The group, named «For Lithuania’s Wellbeing», will be led by Vytautas Kamblevičius, an ex-member of the Order and Justice party and the former elder of its political group in the Lithuanian parliament. It will be the seventh political group in the Seimas.

Russian retail chain eyes Lithuanian market

The Russian retail chain Svetofor plans to enter the Lithuanian market. The Russian daily Kommersant announced it first. HR Business Alliance, a Belarusian recruitment agency, has announced the recruitment of staff for stores in various Lithuanian cities. It’s unclear yet where the stores will be located. Svetofor is an outlet chain offering 30-40 lower prices than its competitors. Warehouse-type stores operates in Russia, Belarus, Germany and Romania.

More safeguards at Belarusian power plant under consideration

 As Latvia takes steps to open the way for cheaper electricity imports from Russia or Belarus when Lithuania blocks electricity imports from the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus closer to the Lithuanian border, an idea is pushing its way through the Lithuanian Seimas to look into whether the law blocking such imports really guarantees that Belarusian electricity will not end up in Lithuania. Virgilijus Poderys, chair of the Lithuanian parliamentary Commission for Energy and Sustainable Development, proposed to the parliament and the Energy Ministry this week to carry out a legal analysis of the existing law

 MT Group fails again to halt GIPL tender

Lithuania’s gas pipeline builder MT Group has failed in its second bid to temporarily halt the tender, worth almost 100 million euros, for the construction of the gas interconnection between Poland and Lithuania (GIPL), won by a consortium of Alvora and Šiaulių Dujotiekio Statyba. Earlier the week, however, Lithuania’s Public Procurement Office has ordered Lithuania’s gas transmission company Amber Grid to temporarily halt the tender, meaning that Amber Grid will not be able to sign the contractor contract with Alvora.

Appeal court opens case of two former troops

 The Court of Appeal of Lithuania on Wednesday, September 11, started hearing the case of two former troops found guilty of spying for Russia. The appeal was lodged by one of the convicts, asking the court for a softer punishment. Starting in the fall of 2014, the espionage activities at the Aviation Base involved photographing official documents, the layouts of premises and the airport, plans and facilities, and orders and decisions by the command, and other non-public but not classified data for a foreign intelligence agency.

Sinkevičius proposed for EC environment commissioner

President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, September 10, proposed Lithuania’s Economy Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius for European commissioner in charge of environment. Sinkevičius still needs the European Parliament’s approval, and the new EC is scheduled to start working on November 1.

PM, opposition discuss initiative to sign party agreement on education

Representatives of the opposition and Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Monday, September 9, discussed an initiative for parliamentary parties to sign an agreement on the country’s education policy.

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Gints Miķelsons put in charge of Latvian Construction Contractors Partnership

From 1 March 2020 onward Gints Miķelsons, who has been the head of Latvian Sustainable Construction Council will be in charge of the Latvian Construction Contractors Partnership, as confirmed by construction contractors.

While Latvia’s GDP grows 2.2%, other Baltic States experience more rapid growth

In 2019, Latvia experienced the slowest GDP growth among Baltic States, according to data from Latvia’s Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Latvia’s GDP growth reportedly 2.2% in 2019

Compared to 2018, the economic growth continued and Gross Domestic Product increased by 2.2 %. In 2019, GDP at current prices amounted to EUR 30.5 billion. Compared to Q3, in Q4 2019 GDP at constant prices grew by 0.1 %, according to seasonally and calendar adjusted data.

Retail trade turnover in Latvia up 2.6% in January

Compared to January 2019, total retail trade turnover rose by 2.6 % in January 2020. Turnover of retail trade in food products grew by 4.4 %.

Vilnis Ķirsis to remain in charge of Unity’s faction in Riga

On Thursday, 27 February, Vilnis Ķirsis was once again picked as the head of Unity party’s faction in Riga, as confirmed by the party.

Latvia and USA sign joint declaration to enhance 5G network security

On Thursday, 27 February, Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sign a joint US-Latvian declaration on 5G network security, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Estonian Tallink Grupp sees profit growth of EUR 9.7 million on year

Estonian provider of ferry transport and related services Tallink Grupp has worked in 2019 with a net profit of 49.7 million euros, according to its unaudited financial results of the year, as reported by Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

Jakrins reportedly a beneficiary in a company that organizes Brasas and Deglava bridge repairs

Long-standing Riga City Council official Emīls Jakrins, who was in charge of the Transport Department not long ago, is beneficiary and factual owner of LLC TecPro Construction, which is a contractor to Lithuanian company Kauno tiltai, which has been hired by the city council to repair Brasas and Deglavas bridges, as reported by Diena newspaper, referencing unofficial information.

UK ready to switch to WTO trade rules if no EU by end of year

The British government has declared that unless concessions are made by Brussels in EU-UK talks on their future cooperation, the former EU member would trade with the bloc on WTO rules from 2021, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Residents able to submit compulsory income declarations by 1 June; VID urges using EDS

March 2020 will mark the beginning of the three-month period within which all residents for whom it is compulsory will be able to submit their income declaration for 2019. This period will last three years for residents for whom this process is voluntary, as reminded by the State Revenue Service.

Lithuanian border guards start informing travellers about the situation with Covid-19

As the new coronavirus Covid-19 continues spreading in Europe, Lithuanian border guards have begun informing travellers from Latvia and Poland about necessary protective measures.

Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, in regime airstrike, Ankara says

In the current epicentre of the Syrian civil war, 33 soldiers of the NATO member state Turkey have been killed as Syrian government military aviation carried out attacks on Turkish military posts set up in its neighbouring country, German broadcaster DW reports citing Ankara.

Weather in Latvia to be winter-like at week’s end

Weather in Latvia is expected to be winter-like at the end of the week – air temperature is expected to drop below 0° C at night in most of the country. In some areas cold snap may be felt during the day, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

First coronavirus infection case found in Lithuania

The first coronavirus infection case is confirmed in Lithuania, as mentioned in Lithuanian government’s statement released on Friday, 28 February, as reported by

SPKC urges passengers of 26 February Istanbul-Riga flight to respond

Latvia’s Disease Control and Prevention Centre is looking for passengers who flew together with confirmed coronavirus patient from Istanbul to Riga on Wednesday, 26 February.

Regional hospitals in Latvia report high demand for protective clothing

Because of the outbreak of the new coronavirus Covid-19, demand has considerably increased for individual protective clothing, which forces prices to go up, as reported by heads of hospitals.

Rail Baltica not just marvelled, but cussed too in Lithuania

If implemented, the ambitious 5.8-billion euro Rail Baltica project aiming to build a nearly 1000-kilometer rail link from Helsinki to Poland through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will be a major infrastructural achievement of the Baltics, but the possibility of dashing at the now surreal speed of 250 kilometres per hour as soon as in 2026, when the project is slated for completion, comes at expense of many land owners in Lithuania’s six municipalities, which will be crossed by the European-gauge tracks.

Construction costs in Latvia up 2.8% in January

Compared to December 2019, the level of construction costs in Latvia fell by 0.2 % in January 2020. Labour remuneration of workers reduced by 0.9 %, prices of building materials – by 0.1 %, but maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment – rose by 0.2 %.

In Greece, violent protests against new migrant camps continue for 3rd day

In Greece, continued protests and clashes have resulted in over 60 people suffering injuries as people on the islands of Lesbos and Chios protest against the construction of new migrant centres, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Minister says Latvia’s initiated territorial reform will create more sustainable municipalities

The report from the European Commission mentions that Latvian government’s initiated administrative territorial reform will create more sustainable municipalities with greater capacity and ability to provide services of comparable quality, as reported by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

Latvian Saeima changes the prosecutor general’s selection order

On Thursday, 27 February, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments to the order under which the country’s prosecutor general is selected.

Textile producer in Lithuania complies with Greenpeace standards in industrial textile making

Lithuanian textiles producer Utenos Trikotažas has been deemed by environmental protection organisation Greenpeace as complying with the standards of the later as to not using hazardous chemicals and being fair and transparent in its business, LRT reports.

From March onward prices of alcoholic beverages to increase in Latvia

Through a measured and gradual increase of excise tax rate policy, starting with 1 March 2020 the excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages in Latvia will increase, as confirmed by the State Revenue Service.

435 whistle-blower reports received in eight months in Latvia

In the first year of the Whistleblowing Law, Latvian central state institutions have received 435 reports from whistle-blowers, as reported by the State Chancellery.

Estonia finds first positive coronavirus case

In Estonia, the first case of a person being infected with the novel coronavirus has been found, stated Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik on Thursday, February 27, as cited by Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

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