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Friday 06.12.2019 | Name days: Niklāvs, Niks, Nikolajs

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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Baltic States and Poland agree to push Rail Baltica as the main transport policy priority

On Friday, 6 December, Baltic and Polish transport ministers agreed during a meeting to continue pushing Rail Baltica as the main transport policy priority in the region, as confirmed by Latvia’s Transport Ministry.

Bank: Latvian residents have become more active with making savings

Following increased economic growth, there has been an improvement with Latvian residents’ financial reserves, according to data compiled by Swedbank. Nearly 17% of them have managed to save up money worth three or more wage amounts (2% more than last year), according to data from Swedbank.

Brexit – one of most spectacular mistakes in EU history, Tusk says

Donald Tusk, the former President of the European Council, has stated that the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has been a spectacular mistake after a campaign of misinformation.

Environment Protection Minister to request Riga City Council’s dismissal

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has decided to request dismissal of Riga City Council because according to the ministry the municipal administration has failed to perform one of its autonomous functions – provide carrying of household waste.

Estonia’s prime minister: Rail Baltica project unlikely to be finished on time

It is unlikely European standard railway width project Rail Baltica will be finished on time – by 2026, admits Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

Estonia points to human rights violations in occupied parts of Georgia, Ukraine

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu has noted in a meeting of the OSCE that violations of international rights and fundamental rights along with the continued crises in Georgia and Ukraine endanger security in the wider region of OSCE countries.

For the first time since 2003, woman possibly infected with rabies dies in Latvia

A woman that was possibly infected with rabies has died in Daugavpils, as reported by Disease Prevention and Control. This may be the first death caused by rabies in Latvia since 2003.

French pension strike engages 800 000 people

In France, the first day of mass demonstrations and public sector strike has involved over 800 000 in marches in many cities of the country, as protesters seek to force President Emmanuel Macron not to push forward with pension reform.

Interior Affairs Minister wants to use modern technologies to combat contraband

To ensure a more effective way to combat against contraband, Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens wants to use modern technologies that would work in parallel to customs officers. He said as much in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 6 December.

Ušakovs says he wants to run in Riga City Council snap elections

Member of the European Parliament and ex-Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs says he is prepared to start in snap elections in Riga if they are organized, as confirmed by Harmony chairman Jānis Urbanovičs.

Germany’s Merkel to visit Auschwitz Holocaust camp for first time

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has headed the German government since 2005, will on Friday, December 6, visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

VID officials will need to have spotless reputation, Saeima decides

From now on, officials of the State Revenue Service will need to have a spotless reputation. This is decided by Saeima’s amendments to the Law on State Revenue Service approved in the final reading on 5 December, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Brazil at risk of losing vote in UN General Assembly because of high debts

There are risks that because of failure to pay its debts to the United Nations Organization, Brazil could lose its voting rights in the UN General Assembly, Reuters reports.

Strained Lithuanian budget is desperate for additional sources of revenues

With the adoption of the new year’s budget skidding, two major professional groups – teachers and doctors – have had this week their demand for higher salaries satisfied, thus deepening the holes in the shallowing budget. Where to scoop up money to patch all the gaps and satisfy all the demands? This week, Seimas, Lithuanian legislature, was in a frantic search for additional sources of revenues.

Estonian Police and Border Guard Board official detained on suspicion of embezzlement

Estonian Internal Security Service has detained a senior officer of Police and Border Guard Board at the South Prefecture on suspicion of document forgery and embezzlement of more than EUR 250 000, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Saeima supports government’s decision to extend state of emergency in Riga

On Thursday, 5 December, Saeima agreed with the government’s decision to extend the state of emergency with waste management in Riga’s administrative territory until 12 March 2020, as reported by the Saeima’s press-service.

Flu infection rates remain low in Latvia, but infection spread continues nonetheless

A total of 30 clinically confirmed flu infection cases were registered in Latvia’s healthcare institutions. Nevertheless, virus activity remains low in the country, according to the latest monitoring report on influenza and acute upper respiratory tract infections compiled by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

France braces for intense protests over Macron’s intended pension reform

France shaken by this decade’s biggest protests in which trade unions urge other residents to oppose French President Emmanuel Macron’s intended pension reform, Reuters reports.

Marguerite Fund to sell Conexus shares to Japanese Marubeni fund

Shareholder in Latvian natural gas transmission and storage system operator Conexus Baltic Grid, Marguerite Fund plans to sell its owned 29.06% of Conexus shares to Japanese company Marubeni fund.

Saeima’s majority may move towards Riga City Council’s dismissal

The majority of Latvia’s Saeima may vote towards dismissing Riga City Council, according to unofficial information from LETA. There is also a more reserved position on this, but generally it is admitted that Riga City Council’s dismissal process will be initiated.

National Economy Committee invites reviewing Rail Baltica project’s management structure

«Considering the unstable situation and lasting stagnation with the project’s management, the National Economy Committee invites Transport Ministry to review the structure of RB Rail,» says Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee chairman Jānis Vitenbergs.

«Riga’s residents overpay.» Kleins proposes terminating contract with Rīgas karte

Riga City Council vice-chairman and shareholder in municipal company LLC Rīgas satiksme Druvis Kleins, has ordered the company’s lawyers to assess the option of quickly terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as confirmed by Kleins, who represents For Riga! bloc in the city council.

Newspaper: Russia plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad next year

Russia has plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad Oblast, which shares borders with Poland and Lithuania, as reported by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Ex-president says conflicts with territorial reform surface where the rich refuse to share

The objective of the territorial reform remains unchanged – forming economically more efficient administrative territories. This means creating counties able to sustain themselves and develop economically. Conflicts with the reform usually surface in areas, where the rich refuse to share. There are also situations when the poor want to receive and do nothing on their own, BNN was told by ex-President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers.

October’s industrial production output in Latvia increases 3%

Compared to October 2018, industrial production output increased by 3 % in October 2019, according to calendar adjusted data at constant prices.

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