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Wednesday 19.06.2019 | Name days: Nils, Viktors

Week in Lithuania: International gang busted, Olympic champion retires, customs block rocket entry

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

Lithuania’s Olympic champion, swimmer Rūta Meilutytė

Last week, an armed gang of 22 persons, involved in arms and drugs smuggling and possible murder, was handcuffed in Lithuania; Lithuania changed anti-money laundering tactics to better prevent money laundering; the ruling LFGU offered to drop all ongoing parliamentary investigations of economic crisis.

JUSTICE: Estonians associated with armed gang busted in Lithuania

As a result of the joint activity of the police of Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Spain and UK, an armed gang of 22 persons who were involved in arms and drugs smuggling was handcuffed in Lithuania. The gang is also suspected of having organized the murder of Kaunas resident Deimantas Bugavičius in 2015. There are Lithuanian citizens among the detainees, including the gang’s suspected leader who was detained in Spain. Altogether 40 house searches took place, resulting in the seizure of 8 million euros in cash, diamonds, gold bars, jewellery and luxury vehicles, as well as the discovery of hidden compartments used to smuggle drugs and psychotropic substances.

Strasbourg court’s landmark ruling appealed

A former KGB officer has appealed the European Court of Human Rights’ landmark ruling that Soviet repressions against Lithuanian partisans can be treated as genocide. Kęstutis Rakauskas, the defence lawyer of Stanislovas Drelingas, the former KGB officer convicted of genocide in Lithuania, has asked this week for the case to be reconsidered by the Strasbourg-based court’s Grand Chamber. His request should be examined by a panel of five ECHR judges, who will decide in the coming months if to refer the case to the 17-member Grand Chamber.

Data watchdog launches probe into journalist’s actions

Lithuania’s State Data Protection Inspectorate said on Wednesday, May 22, it had launched an investigation into allegedly unlawful actions of journalist Sarunas Černiauskas. He was sacked by his employer after it turned out that he produced analyses on public figures and businesses to a PR company for remuneration without informing the employer.

Prosecutors halt separate probe into 1991 Soviet crackdown

Prosecutors have confirmed this week that they, having explored all possibilities, suspended, three weeks ago, a separate pre-trial investigation into the 1991 Soviet crackdown on Lithuania’s independence movement. In 2014, the investigation into crimes against humanity and war crimes in 1991 was separated from the main case, which was closed and sent to a first-instance court that delivered its judgment earlier this year. In March, the Vilnius Regional Court found Dmitry Yazov, a former Soviet defence minister, and more than 60 other former Soviet officials and military officers guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their involvement in the Soviet aggression in Vilnius on January 13, 1991.

POLITICS: Seimas probes’ fate depends on new president

The Seimas will drop all ongoing parliamentary investigations and will hand them over to the prosecutor’s office if Lithuania’s new president overhauls the prosecution system to ensure its independence, the ruling LFGU party’s leader Ramūnas Karbauskis said on Thursday, May 23. According to Karbauskis, the parliament is forced to investigate the causes of the 2009-2010 economic crisis because lawmakers do not trust the prosecutor’s office. The daily Lietuvos Rytas has in recent weeks published articles and interviews with several prosecutors about allegedly dubitable criminal cases, political influence and Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis’ activities.

BUSINESS: Investments into Vilnius Airport

Around 130 million euros will be invested into the expansion and reconstruction of Lithuania’s largest Vilnius Airport over the next four years, until 2022, and annual revenue of Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports, LOU), the sate-run operator of three airports in Lithuania, is set to grow by around 43 per cent to 63 million euros, Lietuvos Oro Uostai said on Thursday, May 23.

TSO signs key power grid synchronisation agreement

Lithuania’s power transmission system operator (TSO) Litgrid signed on Tuesday, May 21, an agreement on the Baltic power grids’ connection to the continental European network for synchronous operation.

ROW: Bar Association, SIS clash over surveillance info

The Lithuanian Bar Association on Thursday, May 23, expressed its indignation over the Special Investigation Service’s refusal to provide information on alleged surveillance and tapping of lawyers. The SIS says it is strictly following the operation secrecy laws and says the requests are unfounded and purely based on curiosity. This is not the first time when lawyers and the SIS exchange accusations.

NEIGHBOURS: Customs officers block rocket launch system from Belarus

Lithuanian customs officers refused to allow a rocket launch system (RLS) from Belarus to enter the country earlier this week. Components for the M20 Missile Weapon System Model system were being transported to Lithuania with the destination in China by two trucks, the Customs Criminal Service said on Thursday, May 23.

TRANSPARENCY: Lithuania changes anti-money laundering tactics

In a change of anti-money laundering tactics, Lithuania’s authorities open pre-trial investigations even if there are only suspicions about the origin of money, Mindaugas Petrauskas, deputy director of the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNNT), said on Wednesday, May 22.  According to him, the state received 4 million euros in extra revenue last year, even though the investigations were discontinued. According to Petrauskas, Lithuania’s authorities learned their lessons from the bankruptcies of two local banks, Snoras and Ūkio Bankas.

SPORTS: Meilutytė retires from professional swimming

Lithuania’s Olympic champion Rūta Meilutytė announced her decision on Wednesday, May 22, to end her professional swimmer’s career, citing personal reasons and the wish to focus on education. At the age of 15, Meilutytė won a gold medal at the London Olympics. She has won 18 medals, 12 golden and six silver, at world and European championships.

Lithuania to bid to host 2023 World Rowing Championships

Lithuania will bid to host the 2023 World Rowing Championships. The Cabinet gave on Wednesday, May 22, the go-ahead for the Lithuanian Rowing Federation to submit the country’s bid to the International Rowing Federation. The government plans to allocate 2 million euros for the tournament events. Lithuania would play host to the World Rowing Championships for the first time.

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Plaster to education: Latvian teachers’ pay increased for 2019 alone

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Pay cut to major Latvian port board members approved by government

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Nordea bank searched in Denmark over money laundering allegations

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Fire Service: Violations in new Ventspils music school prevented

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UN: 2.2 billion people globally still lack safe drinking water

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Key owner of pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm changes board member over distrust

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Lithuanian experts: No way of stopping coming nuclear power plant of Belarus

Options that could stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Belarus have been exhausted, experts in neighbouring Lithuania have said to its public media.

Latvia pushing for joint stance of Baltic-Nordic MPs on security policy

Ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, it is key for the legislators of the eight Baltic-Nordic states to have a common position on security policy, said MP Inese Ikstena, head of the Latvian delegation.

Latvian coalition undertakes to rise teacher salaries over reform

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Latvian Enterprise Register: Companies not revealing true beneficiaries to be wound up

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Latvian PM: If Estonia breaks deal on alcohol excise, we’re forced to respond

If Estonia has broken a deal with Latvia on alcohol excise tax, then Latvia is left to no choice, but to respond with a corresponding cut in excise, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

Never too late to marry – elderly marriages jump in Latvia

Over the year 2018 in Latvia, the total number of marriages fell by 0.7 %, the number of marriages concluded by elderly population grew 1.7 times, data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia showed.

Eesti Energia suggests introducing customs tax to cheap Russian power

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Social care centre in Latvia blamed for severe human rights violations

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Unmarried couples’ law to be proposed in Latvia

In the Latvian Saeima, this week, a draft Law on Unmarried couples would be proposed by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par!.

Glass fibre maker Valmieras stikla šķiedra files for legal protection

Latvia-based glass fibre maker AS Valmieras stikla šķiedra has on Monday, June 17, announced filing for the start of legal protection proceedings aimed at ensuring sustainable continuation of group level operations.

Summer solstice week to be warm-to-hot in Latvia

As Latvia readies for the traditional summer solstice and Līgo festivities in the weekend, meteorologists expect the beginning of the week to be warm and sunny, whereas in the second half of the week, temperatures could rise and rain could set in.

Trees worth two hundred thousand euros disappear in Latvian border works

Developing the Latvia-Russia border, in eastern Latvia, a protected natural territory has been destroyed and timber worth over two hundred thousand euros has disappeared, reported Nekā Personīga programme of TV3 channel.

Latvian MPs request Supreme Court to evaluate Prosecutor General Kalnmeiers

Latvian legislators have asked the Latvian Supreme Court to evaluate consistency of the work of Prosecutor Ēriks Kalnmeiers with his post over inactivity in money laundering prevention and other shortcomings.

Gynaecologists in Germany fined advertising abortions

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Week in Lithuania: MP Gražulis in hot water, heat-related water supply disruptions in Kaunas

Last week, Lithuania marked the Day of Mourning and Hope, outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite delivered her last annual address, president-elect Gitanas Nausėda spoke out against taxing owners of old polluting car, but MP Petras Gražulis suspected of bribery.

BNN summary of the week: Waiting for new Culture Minister; Misleading by Supreme Court chair; bank watchdog overhaul

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IN PICTURES: Victims of Communist genocide remembered in Latvia

At the Freedom Monument in Latvia on Friday, June 14, there was held a ceremony to honour the victims of the Communist genocide against the people of Latvia. The mass arrests of innocent people were committed on the night from June 13 to 14.

Moscow sees U.S. decision of another thousand troops to Poland as sensitive

The Russian government stated the Russian army was closely tracking U.S. plans to send an additional thousand of its troops Poland as a deputy minister criticised the move as probably «aggressive».

Europol: Risks of Russian money laundering still exist in Baltics

In the Baltic states, there still exist risks for the laundering of money from Russia, said official from European police agency Europol, Pedro Felicio, who works on anti-money laundering measures in the body. He added that the problem is amplified by «zero cooperation from the side of Russia».