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Ceturtdiena 21.11.2019 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania not affected by problems at Latvia's ABLV Bank

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFinancial problems faced by ABLV, one of Latvia’s biggest commercial banks, will have no impact on the Lithuanian financial system, officials from the central Bank of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Banks’ Association (LBA) said this week. According to Vytautas Valvonis, director of the central bank’s Supervision Service, the Lithuanian financial system has become very independent in recent years. LBA President Mantas Zalatorius also says that ABLV’s turning to the Latvian central bank for financial support will have no impact on the Lithuanian financial system.

Director of major hospital arrested, then released

Kęstutis Strupas, director general of Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos, one of Lithuania’s major hospitals, has been suspended from his job on suspicions of abuse amid a large-scale corruption probe by law-enforcement bodies, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, February 22. The decision to suspend Professor Strupas was made during a meeting of the Health Ministry and Vilnius University, the hospital’s shareholders, it said.

Lithuania’s ex-judge Venckienė nabbed in US

Former Lithuanian judge and former MP Neringa Venckienė has been detained in Chicago, the United States, at Lithuania’s request for refusing to obey a court order to hand over her niece to her mother. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, February 22, that the process of the suspect’s extradition to Lithuania had been initiated. Lithuanian law-enforcement want also to hold her liable for unlawful interfering with a bailiff’s operations and resisting the police.

SD Labour Party to hold assembly in late March

The Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party will hold its constituent assembly on March 24. Gediminas Kirkilas, one of the founders of the party, told journalists on Friday, February 23, the party would have around 3,000 founders. The core of the new party includes old members of the Social Democratic Party that split from the political force last year after it decided to leave the ruling coalition with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

Kaunas set to bring Samsung

Kaunas, Lithuania‘s second-largest city, intends to invest 5 million euros in the territory of a former aviation factory and build the Aleksoto Innovations Park, if approval is secured from the council of Lithuania’s second city next week, with plans to bring the tech giant Samsung there, Kauno Diena daily reported.

International Book Fair opens in Vilnius

The four-day Vilnius Book Fair opened at the exhibition and congress centre Litexpo on Thursday, Februay 22. At the opening of the fair, President Dalia Grybauskaitė noted that this year’s event was special, as it was taking place on the 100-year anniversary of the country’s restored statehood. Held for the 19th time, this year’s fair is expected bring together 53 foreign delegations from 21 countries, including coming from Canada, the United States, Iran, Oman and Israel.

Lithuanian bodies underuse anti-corruption instruments

President Dalia Grybauskaitė says that Lithuania’s failure to improve its position in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perception Index shows that the country’s bodies do not make sufficient use of the instruments they have to curb corruption. Lithuania ranked 38th out of 180 countries surveyed in the index released by Transparency International on Wednesday, February 21, unchanged from last year. This puts Lithuania ahead of Latvia, but behind Poland and Estonia.

Police reform brings positive results

Lithuania’s police reform has produced positive results, but some risks remain unmanaged, Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas said on Thursday, February 22. As the result of the reform, the number of officers on the street has increased by 1.5 times, the rate of response to incidents has increased, too, but not that significantly. With the focus on rapid response, the quality of investigations is at risk, some experts believe.

Constitutional Court to rule on wrongful dismissal

The Lithuanian Constitutional Court on Thursday, February 22, started hearing a case regarding ministers’ personal monetary liability for wrongful dismissal of employees or other wrongful decisions. The issue has been referred to the Constitutional Court by the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court, which is hearing an appeal by Raimundas Palaitis, a former interior minister, who is contesting an order for him to pay over 4,500 euros for firing Osvaldas Šarmavičius as director of the Civil Service Department. Courts have ruled that the director’s dismissal was too severe a disciplinary sanction.

Philip Morris may face fine in Lithuania

Global tobacco giant Philip Morris may face a fine in Lithuania for advertising its electronic smoking device IQOS. Lithuania’s Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department has made a preliminary conclusion that the devise should be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products, but it will adopt its final decision after hearing explanations from the producer.

Tomkus sells 80 pc stake in ELTA

Vitas Tomkus, the owner of the media group Respublikos Leidiniai, has sold 80 per cent of shares in the Lithuanian news agency ELTA. GM Media Invest, a company owned by ELTA CEO Gitana Markovičienė on Wednesday, Wednesday 21, purchased the stake from Tomkus and plans to buy the remaining 20 per cent of shares in the near future, the agency said. GM Media Invest last December purchased the Moteris, Mano Namai, Tavo Vaikas, Cosmopolitan and Panelė magazine publishing business and the websites of these brands from Delfi.

Telia Lithuania says Huawei equipment is safe

After US intelligence agencies have warned that American citizens should not use products made by Huawei, Lithuania’s telecoms company Telia Lietuva says that the Chinese manufacturer’s equipment that it uses is safe. According to the spokesman, Telia Lietuva uses equipment by various manufacturers and has used Huawei products for 10 years now.

Government to allow downing drones over military areas

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, February 21, legal amendments to allow shooting down non-crewed aircraft flying without permission over military areas. The amendments, which will now go to the parliament for approval, would also ban unauthorized drones from flying over military areas and filming or photographing these areas. The proposed legislation would also give authorities the right to persecute or detain persons illegally visualising military areas.

Vilnius seeks over 350 mn euro from France’s Veolia

The city of Vilnius on Monday, February 19, filed a counterclaim against France’s Veolia, which withdrew from the Lithuanian capital’s heat supply sector last spring, and its local subsidiary Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy) with the Stockholm arbitration court, seeking over 350 million euros in damages from the companies. With Vilniaus Energija’s 15-year lease on the Lithuanian capital’s heating system nearing expiration, Veolia and Vilniaus Energija in late 2016 asked the Stockholm arbitration court to appoint an independent valuer of the Vilnius district heat supply system. The dispute was later expanded to include investments and damages incurred by both sides in the city as they failed to agree on the value of the assets.

Court sentences for stealing money from Norwegian companies

A Lithuanian court on Monday, February 19, found three people guilty of stealing 246,000 euros from Norwegian companies by infecting their computers with malware. The Panevėžys regional court sentenced the organizer of the crime, identified by his initials D. S., to six years in prison. Combined with an earlier prison term, the man will spend seven years and a month behind bars.


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Terrorist attack victim numbers decline, but many countries remain at risk of terrorism

The number of people who died in terrorist attacks around the world had dropped 15.2% in 2018. Nevertheless, the number of countries that are under risk of terrorist attacks has only increased since then, as reported by the Institute for Economics and Peace on Tuesday, 20 November.

Swedish TV: U.S. investigates Swedbank over violations of Russia sanctions

With U.S. and European Union’s sanctions banned from cooperating with Russian weapon maker Kalashnikov, Swedbank has been involved in sending large sums between the shareholders of the Russian firm and the owner of Kalashnikov USA, Swedish television SVT reports.

Saeima’s committee views residents’ request on postponing increase of party funding

On Wednesday, 20 November, Saeima’s Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee conceptually supported the legislative draft on the initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents in regards to the significant increase of funding for political parties and its submission to the parliament’s Budget Committee for review.

Estonia sees no alternative to NATO and says it’s strong

Estonia’s top diplomate Urmas Reinsalu has announced prior to a meeting with counterparts from other NATO nations that he considers the alliance strong and sees no alternatives to it.

Supplying all Latvian residents with food would cost nearly EUR 12 million per day

In the event of a threat to the state, supplying Latvian residents with food would cost the state budget approximately EUR 12 million per day, according to estimates from Agriculture Ministry, which were performed in line with adoption of a comprehensive state security system.

State Revenue Service employees’ «glances» at sensitive files and symbolic penalties

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Malta arrests businessman in journalist murder case

Maltese authorities have arrested in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Wednesday a well-known entrepreneur Yorgen Fenech. Police and Fenech himself have not yet commented publicly on the operation

Latvia’s finance minister bets on tax reform to find money for healthcare

To find necessary funding for healthcare, Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs proposes creating «a fair system» in the context of the expected tax reform in which all employed taxpayers will be able to participate.

Levits: Principle of irresponsibility is entrenched in Latvia

Latvian President Egils Levits, discussing the issue of doctor wages in the country, has said: «We have developed for a long time a mechanism of irresponsibility». The head of state gave an interview to Latvijas Televīzija’s programme Rīta Panorāma on Wednesday, November 20.

Riga Mayor ready to resign, if no new majority in City Council

Riga Mayor Oļegs Burovs is looking for a new majority after cooperation with his party has been stopped by Harmony party. If no new majority is established, Burovs would resign, he said in an interview with Latvijas Radio.

Lithuanian firefighters protest over low pay and outdated equipment

Lithuanian firefighters have reminded of government commitments in the field in a protest in Vilnius over the average wage of 430 euros and outdated equipment.

Sweden discontinues investigation into Wikileaks Assange over rape

Swedish investigators have decided to end investigation into Julian Assange, the whistle-blower organisation Wikileaks, over alleged rape that has been upheld since 2010.

Saeima committee: reorganization of small state institutions does not yield results

«Evaluation and reorganization of small and very small state institutions so far has not given us desired results. This is because there has not been a reduction of the number of state institution employees or funding,» said chairman of Saeima’s Public Expenditures and Audit Committee Kaspars Ģirģens.

Minister: pressure is needed, but the message of LVSADA’s protest is unclear

Pressure from doctors will be needed in the future, but the message of the protest organized by Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers is unclear, Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele told journalists on Tuesday, 19 November.

While Kļaviņš penalized for fraud with compensations, Lembergs uses expensive cars for state funds

Two very similar cases in which state and municipal resources are used for private needs. However, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has two diametrically opposing judgements. While last year’s reported violation committed by Askolds Kļaviņš by misappropriating nearly EUR 10 000 of state budget funds was declared a crime, Aivars Lembergs’ use of expensive cars is not considered a crime in KNAB’s eyes.

EU bodies agree on bloc’s budget for 2020

The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have reached an agreement on the bloc’s budget for 2020, which has a planned increase in spending and the United Kingdom as a fully contributing member state.

Latvian government decides to divert hospitals’ profits for infrastructure development

The government has decided to allow capital associations in which Healthcare Ministry is a shareholder to divert clean profits and dividends for 2018 towards improvement of infrastructure, as confirmed by Healthcare Ministry.

57 children receive intestinal infections at Smiltene’s secondary school

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Anti-money laundering: SEB says most suspicious clients from Estonia operations

Swedish investigative journalists, who are looking into suspicions of money laundering, have submitted to the pan-Baltic banking group SEB a list with 194 people, the company has announced.

Demanding Saeima’s and Viņķele’s dismissal, doctors announce another strike

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has plans to organize a new protest act outside the Saeima on 28 November. The protest will demand the parliament’s dismissal, as well as voice distrust towards Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele.

«Was never fit for vice-mayor’s post.» Baraņņiks loses post in Riga City Council

With votes from opposition deputies, Riga City Council’s Vice-Chairman Vadims Baraņņiks was removed from his post on Tuesday, 19 November. He was also removed from his post in Riga Freeport board.

Kundziņsala overpass construction splits Riga Freeport authority over cartel case

Last week, Riga Freeport authority decided to sign a contract worth nearly EUR 40 million on the construction of Kundziņsala transport overpass with companies that have ties with people involved in the so-called construction cartel case, as reported by LTV programme De Facto.

Tusk kept reminding EU of Russia being «strategic problem», not partner

European Council’s outgoing chairman Donald Tusk has in a speech devoted to his five years in office revealed that he had to remind member states that Russia was Europe’s «strategic problem», instead of being its strategic partner.

In Hong Kong protests, 400 people arrested

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests a standoff between activists and riot police continues at a university, where around 600 protesters have surrendered and 400 have been arrested, local authorities say.

Riga City Council opposition will likely refrain from Baraņņiks’ dismissal vote

On Tuesday, 19 November, the opposition of Riga City Council will likely abstain or not participate at all in the vote regarding the dismissal of the city council’s vice-chairman Vadims Baraņņiks, as told by For Latvia’s Development faction chairman Viesturs Zeps.

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