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Sunday 16.06.2019 | Name days: Justīne, Juta

Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian court postpones January 13 ruling until late March

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Vilnius Regional Court on Tuesday, February 5, decided to postpone its ruling in the January 13 case until late March. The ruling had been expected on February 18 but it was postponed to March 27.In a statement, the court said it would not be able to issue the ruling in February due to one member of the judicial panel being on a long-term sick leave.

A total of 67 people have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in the January 13th case, with the majority of them standing trial in absentia. Lithuanian prosecutors have proposed sentencing former Soviet defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and several other army officers to life in prison.

CEC lifts legal immunity of two mayoral candidates

Lithuania’s election watchdog, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), on Thursday, February 7, unanimously lifted the legal immunity of two mayoral candidates suspected of influence peddling and abuse of office.

The CEC lifted the legal immunity of Rytis Mykolas Račkauskas running for mayor in the northern city of Panevėžys and also of Kęstutis Tubis running for mayor in Anykščiai, northeastern Lithuania.

Niagara Falls to light up in Lithuanian colours

The Niagara Falls in North America will light up yellow, green and red on February 16 to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Lithuanian Partisans’ Declaration. The Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s top tourist destinations, will be illuminated in the Lithuanian national colours between 10 and 10:15 p.m. local time (5 a.m. Vilnius time). The event is being organized by Lithuania’s embassy to Canada together with the Niagara Falls Illumination Board.

LFGU leader accuses President of «political show»

Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, has on Wednesday, February 6, accused President Dalia Grybauskaitė of staging a «political show» and undermining Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis after she refused to appoint the proposed candidate for environment minister. Karbauskis pointed to the fact that Irma Gudžiūnaitė was nominated for the position only upon prior consultation with the president. And more candidates were proposed to the president earlier, he said. Karbauskis believes the president’s decision might have to do with the prime minister’s decision to run for president.

PM’s confidence in president «shaken»

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Thursday, February 7, his personal confidence in Dalia Grybauskaitė was «seriously shaken» after the president rejected a candidate for environment minister she had previously endorsed. Grybauskaitė’s refusal to approve Irma Gudžiūnaitė as the country’s next environment minister went against the earlier practice where the president and the prime minister would informally agree on a candidate for a minister’s job before his or her official nomination, Skvernelis said.

President’s advisers set to be appointed ambassadors

President Dalia Grybauskaite’s advisers Nerijus Aleksiejūnas and Lina Antanavičienė are set to be appointed the country’s ambassadors to France and Israel, Lithuanian media reported on Wednesday, February 6. The presidential office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have yet to comment on the report.

Government approves bill on civil asset confiscation

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, February 6, a draft law on civil asset confiscation and a package of related legislative amendments to put in place the necessary regulation. Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas said the measure would help combat corruption and organized crime. This also applies to assets transferred to another natural or legal person who knew or ought to have known that the value of the assets is disproportionate to the legal income.

Vilnius adopts 2019 budget

The City Council of Vilnius adopted on Wednesday, February 6, the Lithuanian capital’s budget for 2019, with expenditure exceeding revenue by 5 million euros. The city’s revenue is expected to grow by 3.5 percent this year compared with 2018 to 611.717 million euros. Total revenue, including EU support and funds carried over from last year, is projected at 679.4 million euros, a rise of 9 percent year-on-year.

Flu epidemic declared in half of municipalities

An influenza epidemic has already been declared in 30 out of Lithuania’s 60 municipalities, the National Public Health Centre said on Wednesday, February 6. The disease has claimed 12 lives in the country since the start of this year.

Court rejects request to replace prosecutor in MG Baltic case

Vilnius Regional Court, hearing the high-profile political corruption case, on Wednesday, February 6, rejected the request to replace prosecutor Justas Laucius.

It had been requested by Simonas Slapšinskas defending Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former MG Baltic vice president. The defence lawyer said the prosecutor manipulated his powers to illegally public private information when he told the court in detail how Kurlianskis transferred 10,000 euros to another defendant in the case, ex-Liberal Movement leader Eligijus Masiulis.

Supermetrics to set up office in Vilnius

Finland’s marketing technology company Supermetrics is setting up an office in Vilnius, with plans to hire between 50 and 100 people in the Lithuanian capital within the next three years. The Finnish company is set to open its first office outside Finland in Vilnius this month, Invest Lithuania said in a press release on Tuesday, February 5.

President says INF arms treaty was outdated

The suspended Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and Russia is outdated as it does not include other nuclear powers, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Monday, February 4. Grybauskaitė called on the world’s major powers to seek new arms control agreements in order to avoid a future arms race. When asked if nuclear-capable medium-range missiles should be deployed in Lithuania to boost security, Grybauskaite said that would not be necessary.

Lithuania resumes pig exports to Poland

Lithuania has resumed its exports of pigs to Poland after a break of two months. The country’s State Food and Veterinary Service said on Monday, February 4, 180 pigs were taken to a slaughterhouse in Poland from a farm in the northern District of Panevėžys on February 3. In December, Poland introduced the ban to import Lithuanian pigs and pork bred in Zone II of the ASF where fallen boars have been founds. The Lithuanian government then called the move unfounded.

Police launch probe into ex-basketballer’s unfair play

Lithuania’s police have launched an investigation into alleged result manipulation by Vaidas Kariniauskas, a former player of the Panevėžys BC Lietkabelis.

The probe comes in response to information submitted by the Lithuanian gambling watchdog, the Gaming Control Authority. Top Sport gambling company informed the gambling watchdog about “suspicious bets” of high value that Kariniauskas would score not more than eight points during the game with JDA Dijon Basket. Until then, Kariniauskas would score 10.4 points per game on average but then he managed to miss five shots out of six and score only two points.

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

In the past week in Latvia, changes were announced in the Financial and Capital Market Commission, which will have new a management and duties. A substitute has been proposed for Dace Melbārde as the Latvian Culture Minister after her election to the European Parliament. The conservatives have picked Nauris Puntulis, an opera singer and current Riga City councillor, for the post. The candidate gave an interview to BNN on his priorities in the post.

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».

Data: 47.3% Latvian restaurants had tax debt over last six months

47.3% of Latvian restaurants and cafes had a tax debt exceeding 150 euros in the past six months, yet the total taxes paid by the sector have surged by 19.87% on year, data by business database Lursoft showed.

Latvian parliament in no rush to discuss Jewish restitution payment of EUR 40 mln

The Latvian Saeima has postponed the discussion of a draft law to compensate the Latvian Jewish community in the amount of 40 million euros for property confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.

Latvian Supreme Court chairman blamed for misleading PM over new court

Latvian Supreme Court chairman Ivars Bičkovičs has misrepresented to the Prime Minister the opinion of the Justice Council on the plan of a new economic cases’ court, says Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns. Two members of the council voted in favour of the establishment of the new court, while nine members were against it.

Latvian Health Ministry pushing for fairer competition in medicines’ market

Seeking lower prices of medicines for patients on the Latvian market, the country’s Health Ministry, is working on measures to improve access to medicines.

Approved: Latvian financial watchdog to have new management, more duties

The Latvian parliament has passed amendments to the Law of the Financial and Capital Market Commission aimed at strengthening the prevention of money laundering and terrorism funding in the financial and capital market.

Latvia cancels healthcare funding system of «two baskets»

People in Latvia will maintain access to healthcare services in the framework of mandatory health insurance by 2021 just as now, regardless of insurance payments made.

Estonia confirms alcohol U-turn to recover booze tourists from Latvia

As Estonia tries to recover its alcohol customers lost to neighbouring Latvia due to high excise duty, the parliament in Tallinn has passed a 25% cut in excise duty rate.

All Souls’ Day two? Lithuania eyes new national holiday

Members of the Lithuanian Seimas propose making the All Souls’ Day a national holiday in the majority Catholic Baltic country adding one holiday to the calendar in early November.

Lithuania's next President set to take bull by horns in tackling poverty

Lithuania’s president-elect Gitanas Nausėda has touched one issue – social exclusion and high level of income inequality in Lithuanian society – a lot more than all the others.

Latvian aviation can reach level of Sweden in ten years, says Transport Minister

The aviation sector of Latvia could by 2030 reach with increased efforts the level of Sweden in terms of passenger numbers, flights and cargo handling per capita, stated Latvian Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits.

New Riga concert hall, pay rise to cultural workers – priorities of nominee for Latvian Culture Minister

Candidate for the Latvian Minister of Culture, Nauris Puntulis, listed to the construction of a new national concert hall in Riga and a pay rise to public cultural workers as his top priorities in an interview with BNN news portal.

Latvian ex-children’s home closed after violations, alleged crimes by ex-director

The operations of Latvian Family support centre Saulstari have been stopped by the Latvian Welfare Ministry over violations of law, while a criminal case against the former head of the children’s home continues.

Poll: Latvian government work receives historically highest rating: -25

The evaluation of the work of the Latvian government, despite still being negative, has this May reached its historically highest level, according to the results of the Latvian Barometer study prepared by SKDS pollster.

Damage recovery rights planned for Latvian State Audit

A Latvian Saeima committee approved on Wednesday, June 12, amendments to the State Audit Law to grant the institutional watchdog rights to recover damages from responsible persons over violations of law found during inspections.

For Latvia Jewish property restitution, 40-million- euro compensation proposed

To compensate to the Latvian Jewish community for the property that was illegally confiscated during the Holocaust and the Communist totalitarian regime, a 40-million- euro compensation has been proposed by the Development/For! party alliance.

Air quality in port city of Ventspils meets all requirements, municipality confirms

In the Latvian port city of Ventspils, the data of air quality monitoring meet all requirements, BNN learnt from the City Council’s chief expert of Environmental Monitoring, Tatjana Valdmane.

KNAB reprimands Lembergs’ deputy over accepting donation from mobile operator

Latvian Corruption Combatting and Prevention Bureau has reprimanded Guntis Blumbergs, the deputy of Ventspils City Council Chairman Aivars Lembergs, over accepting a donation from mobile operator LMT, according to information on KNAB’s website.

Amid fears of Latvian real estate tax hike, Kariņš pledges no dramatic increase

As the Latvian Justice Ministry has drafted new rules of the cadastre evaluation of real estate, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš promised in an interview with the LNT channel not to permit a dramatic hike in real estate tax.

Russia frees, drops charges against journalist Golunov in «triumph of law»

Russian authorities have freed journalist Ivan Golunov from Latvian-based news outlet Meduza. The authorities also dropped all charges against the man, which, Golunov’s lawyer says, amounts to the triumph of law.

Turnover of Latvia’s State Forests up 20,1%, profits – up 22,8% in Q1

Latvian state forest management company Latvia’s State Forests has in the first quarter of 2019 reached a turnover of 89,751 million euros, which is an increase of 20.1% as compared to the respective period in 2018, data published by the company showed.

New defence lessons in Latvian schools could cost 8 million euros in 2026

As Latvia considers introducing a mandatory national defence lessons in school curriculum, the costs of this novelty could reach 8.16 million euros by 2026, estimates by the Latvian Defence Ministry showed.

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