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Ceturtdiena 17.10.2019 | Name days: Karīna, Gaits

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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Latvia decides: Non-citizen children to receive citizenship from 2020

The Latvian parliament passed in the final reading on Thursday, October 17, the draft law that sets forth granting citizenship to new-born children of the non-citizens of Latvia.

Drugstores should focus on health care over money-making, Estonian Minister says

As Estonia is working on a pharmacy regulation reform aimed at reducing the influence of drug wholesalers on pharmacies, Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik has said pharmacy services ought to be focused on healthcare instead of business.

Confiscated EUR 29 mln: Latvia waiting for evidence from Ukraine

As Ukraine seeks to recover from Latvia 29 million euros that have been confiscated by a Latvian court, Ukraine has to provide evidence as it has promised to do, according to Latvian President Egils Levits.

E-commerce for prison inmates considered in Estonia

Estonian prisoners could be allowed to buy products using rather than using current prison shops, such is the option considered at the country’s Centre of Registers and Information Systems.

Riga to keep cooperating with ticket servicing firm, allocating EUR 20.6 mln

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will not terminate cooperation with SIA Rīgas karte, meaning that the population would pay 20.6 million euros for it.

Video: Evacuation in Lithuania amid fire at tyre recycling plant

Alytus in southern Lithuania was hit by a cloud of black smoke from a fire at a large tyre recycling plant. A hospital nearby has been evacuated.

Von der Leyen’s commission postponed after three commissioner candidates rejected

The next European Commission is to begin its term in office later than expected as the November 1 coronation has been postponed so that three member states could offer new candidates to replace a trio rejected by the European Parliament.

Probing infections in Latvia, salmonella found in meat from Poland

As infection outbreaks in Latvia are under investigation, laboratory tests showed salmonella bacteria in Polish-origin poultry samples taken from SIA Gaļsaimnieks.

Germany to allow Huawei equipment on 5G networks

The Chinese tech giant Huawei will not be banned from the 5G mobile networks in Germany as Berlin stated it wants to create «a level playing field» for vendors.

OECD: Bribery prevention results in Latvia disproportionate to cross-border risks

Latvia’s results in fighting bribery are still disproportionate with the risks of cross-border bribery and money laundering the country is subjected to, says the Working Group on Bribery of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In pictures: Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in Latvia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian first lady made an official visit to Latvia on Wednesday, October 16.

airBaltic not planning to cancel flights with Airbus A220

airBaltic does not plan to reduce its flights with the Airbus A220-300 plane, after Swiss International Air Lines decided to do this being concerned over the aircraft’s engine problems, according to a statement of the Latvian airline on social media.

PM Kariņš recommends spending confiscated EUR 29 mln as single investment

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has recommended the 29 million euros confiscated by the Riga Regional Court for being criminally-acquired to be spent on a one-off investment, according to an interview to LNT programme 900 sekundes.

Latvian security service develops terrorism financing prevention strategy

The Latvian State Security Service (VDD) has prepared its Strategy for the Prevention of Terrorism Financing 2019-2021 with its goal being improvements of the system of preventing such financing, developing Latvia’s abilities to fight such illegal attempts and to improve the country’s reputation in foreign financial markets.

Estonian President sends invitation to Russian President

Estonian head of state Kersti Kaljulaid has invited her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit the Baltic country during a gathering of Finno-Ugric peoples in 2020.

Riga transport company needs additional 2.9 million euros

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will request from the municipal budget an additional allocation of 2.9 million euros, said Rīgas satiksme’s council chairman in an interview with Latvijas radio.

Government decides: Latvia will have 39 municipalities

The Latvian government has backed the draft Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Places that sets forth cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 39.

Rail Baltica: In rebuilding of Riga Central Station deadlines and quality are key

In Rail Baltica, the new railway project, the rebuilding of the Riga Central Station is planned, where meeting deadlines and quality are key, said the head of Eiropas dzelzceļa līnijas, the company responsible for the project in Latvia, commenting on how the project could be affected by involved builders ReRe grupa being under the scrutiny of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and the Competition Council.

Deal or extension? Last day of Brexit talks on before decisive EU summit

The Brexit delegations from London and Brussels are on Wednesday, October 16, spending their last day of talks before a key European Union summit intended either to discuss a potential deal or to decide on an extension of the Brexit process.

Exclusive | Latvian MP: Top justice figures, Bičkovičs and Kalnmeiers, working like this in private sector, would be sacked long ago

The Moneyval report has told us not only that Latvia is unable to deal with financial crimes, but also that long court cases are under scrutiny. It is about the scale of money laundering – branding us a major power of money laundering. The expert committee also has questions: where are the guilty ones and where are the sentencing rulings? «The same Lembergs’ case; believe me, Moneyval is observing carefully, how it’s going forward,» MP Gatis Eglītis (NCP), the head of the Financial Sector Supervision Committee of Saeima Budget and Finance (Taxation), said in an interview with the BNN.

Latvian medical workers to hold unprecedented protests against funding cuts

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has decided to hold protests it calls unprecedented against state budget plans that would result in reduced funding for health care, according to the LVSADA Council.

History repeating: Lemberg’s-linked medium recalls false news about Meroni

Once again, a medium linked to the criminally-accused Latvian politician Aivars Lembergs has been forced to admit its lies and to recall its unfounded claims directed at lawyer Rudolf Meroni. This time the recall has been published by Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze daily.

Unity: Riga City Council tries to retain structure of despite liquidation

In the Riga City Council, opposition Unity faction fears a near-million increase of the municipality’s Public Relations Division could be coming in city budget effectively to transfer the structure of, the foundation up for liquidation.

Latvian minister: System wants its people as Prosecutor General, top court chairman

«There is information that the system prepares its heirs and wishes to appoint people close to it,» discussing reforms in the Latvian justice system, including the changing of the chairman of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General, has said the Latvian Justice Minister speaking to Latvijas Televīzija programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian coalition reaches deal to support changed administrative reform

Latvian government parties have agreed to support the country’s major administrative and territorial reform expanding the initial plan of cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 36.