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Sunday 26.05.2019 | Name days: Varis, Eduards, Edvards
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Railways joins European train system Interrail

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

Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has joined Interrail, a European train system that allows passengers to buy cheaper tickets for train travel across Europe.

Linas Baužys, director of the Passenger Transportation Directorate at Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, says that the state railway company aims to improve rail connections with Western Europe. According to him, joining the Interrail system marks a new stage in Lietuvos Geležinkeliai’s operations and, specifically, its efforts to improve rail connections with Western countries, to offer new holiday destinations and to expand the geography of train travel. Lithuania was the first Baltic country to join Interrail.

Over thousand people took part in deportee name readings

Over a thousand people in Lithuania took part in the readings in ten cities of the names of more than 100,000 people who were deported by the Soviets or imprisoned for political reasons as Lithuania marked the Day of Mourning and Hope on Thursday, June 14.

The readings were organised by project Mission Siberia and took place in ten Lithuanian cities and took almost 24 hours – from Thursday’s midday until Friday morning – in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda. The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania on June 15, 1940. Soviet repressive structures at 3 a.m. on June 14, 1941 started mass deportations of the Lithuanian population to remote northern areas of the Soviet Union.

Lithuania abstains in UN Israel vote

Lithuania abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly on a resolution condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza. The resolution was passed with 120 votes in favour, 8 votes against and 45 abstentions. Twelve 12 EU countries backed the resolution, but 16 abstained. Latvia abstained too, Estonia meanwhile voted to condemn Israel for the fatalities.

Seimas committee disapproves of social security tax ceiling

The Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), the lead committee in discussions on the government’s proposed tax system changes, on Wednesday, June 13, did not support plans to introduce next year a ceiling on employees’ contributions to the state social insurance fund Sodra. The final decision will be up to the full Seimas.

The government proposes to introduce a ceiling of 120 average salaries per year on contributions to Sodra in 2019, the first year of the reform. That celling would be lowered to 84 average salaries in 2020 and to 60 salaries in 2021. Income above the ceiling would be subject to a 25 percent personal income tax rate.

PM says EU commission’s Ignalina funding proposal insufficient

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that the European Commission’s proposal to provide 552 million euros for the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) decommissioning in 2021-2027 is insufficient and Lithuania will continue to negotiate for more funding.

The amount proposed for the Ignalina decommissioning in the new financial framework period is 230 million euros lower than that sought by Lithuania. The Energy Ministry has said that Lithuania will need around 780 million euros in EU funding for the Ignalina closure in the new budget. The EU has already allocated around 1.3 billion euros for the project since 2007.

Avia Solutions Group buys Ukrainian company

Avia Solutions Group, a Lithuanian capital group indirectly owned by businessman Gediminas Žiemelis, has acquired a Ukraine transport lease company. BAA Simulators, part of the group, purchased 100 percent of Dniprotranslogistyka shares, the company announced via Warsaw stock exchange. The closing price will be determined within a week, however it is anticipated it will not exceed 4 million U.S. dollars. The Ukrainian company’s business will be further developed by Baltic Ground Services, a direct subsidiary of Avia Solutions Group, the statement said.

BOD Group, Finns to invest into solar module production

Soli Tek, a solar elements and modules producer, part of the BOD Group, has agreed on a deal with Finnish energy solution company Valoe to invest 15 million euros into the production of new generation double-sided solar modules. Under the plan, solar elements and modules of up to 180MW in power will be produced in Vilnius over a year. The production should start early next year. Soli Tek’s existing annual element and module production capacity stands at up to 80MW.

Judges decide against recusing in high-profile MG Baltic case

Vilnius Regional Court judges has decided not to recuse from hearing the MG Baltic political corruption case. A call for prosecutor Justas Laucius to recuse has also been rejected. Following this decision, the hearing continues.

The lawyers for the defendants in the political corruption case say President Dalia Grybauskaitė might affect the position of the judges with her various public statements. Formal charges in the case were brought against three legal entities – the Liberal Movement, the Labour Party and MG Baltic – and a number of natural persons, including Kurlianskis, three former members of the Liberal Movement: Eligijus Masiulis, MP Gintaras Steponavičius and Šarūnas Gustainis, also against and Vytautas Gapšys, a former Labour Party lawmaker.

Dutch king honours memory of fellow compatriot

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė met on Friday, June 15, in Kaunas, Lithuanian second-largest city, to unveil a symbolic light monument to Dutch diplomat Jan Zwartendijk who saved Jews during WWII. Zwartendijk was a Dutch honorary consul and representative of Philips in Kaunas in 1940. He issued 2,400 Curacao visas to Lithuanian and Polish Jews, thus saving their lives. Zwartendijk was put on the list of Righteous Among the Nations and received a Lithuanian Life Saving Cross posthumously.

Dispute over KGB collaborators

A dispute erupted on Thursday, June 14, in the Lithuanian parliament over a proposal to publish information on people who admitted to have collaborated with the KGB, with the parliamentary opposition warning of the Kremlin’s interest. Zbignev Jedinskij, representing the opposition Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, and other members of his political group in the Seimas drafted a bill and collected the necessary 50 signatures for it to be included into the parliamentary agenda.

Jedinskij and others propose declassifying information about people who voluntarily admitted to have collaborated with the Soviet KGB as of Jan. 1, 2019. Currently this information is classified for 75 years. The opposition Conservatives are against the proposal.

Seimas lowers age limit for local election candidates

The Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania has lowered the age limit for running for councillor or mayor to 18 years. The lawmakers adopted amendments to the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils with 58 votes in favour, four against and 48 abstentions. They now need to be signed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė to come into force. Currently, candidates to the positions of councillors or mayors must be at least 20 years-old.

PM: There was no need to meet with Dalai Lama

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that there was no need to meet with the Dalai Lama who was visiting Lithuania this week. Skvernelis said that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s representatives had not expressed such a wish either. The Dalai Lama met on Thursday, June 14, with Tibetan supporters in Lithuania, including some politicians, business people and public figures. The country’s top officials were not present in the meeting.


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BNN summary of the week: bumps of EP elections; LDz mystical expenses; OECD’s outlook for Baltics

The past week’s main topic was European Parliament elections. Unfortunately, Latvia’s readiness for digitization of the election process to allow residents to vote from any election site turned out lacking.

«Extremely cumbersome» election process reason for low Latvian turnout abroad, expert says

The low voter turnout of Latvian voters abroad could be due to «an extremely cumbersome» election process outside Latvia – to vote a person had to register about a month earlier, said European Movement – Latvia’s head Andris Gobiņš.

Valmiera reached highest turnout among Latvian cities in EP election by afternoon

As voters in Latvian cities took part in the European Parliament’s elections, the highest turnout by afternoon has been in Valmiera, but the lowest – in the second city Daugavpils, according to the data compiled by the Central Election Commission.

«Latvia could improve turnout of previous elections». EP elections in pictures

The turnout of the 2019 European Parliament’s elections in Latvia has the potential to exceed the turnout of the previous polls five years ago, according to political expert, co-owner of Mediju tilts public relations agency, Filips Rajevskis.

Voter activity in Latvia reaches 27.38% in European Parliament elections

By 16:00 Saturday, 25 May, a total of 386 552 citizens or 27.38% of the population with voting rights in Latvia took part in European Parliament elections, according to data compiled by Central Election Commission.

Latvian State Police commence two administrative cases on political promotion

On Saturday, 25 May, Latvia’s State Police commenced two administrative cases on breach of regulations – publication of political promotional materials during elections. Police found promotional booklets of a political party put on wind shields of parked cars in Ķengarags, Riga.

Residents in Latvia complain to Central Election Commission about election aspects

Although generally speaking European Parliament elections in Latvia have so far been calm and without many incidents, some residents complain about possible political promotion and inability to find their election sites, says Central Election Commission’s head Kristīne Bērziņa.

20.24% of Latvian citizens have voted in EP elections so far

A total of 285 800 Latvian citizens or 20.24% of the total number of voters in the country have participated in European Parliament elections so far.

Riga Tourism Development Bureau gets «new» management

Guntars Grīnvalds, who until now worked as board member, has been approved as the new chairman of Riga Tourism Development Bureau. Ieva Lasmane has been picked as a new board member. Resignations from Maksims Tolstojs and the detailed Vita Jermoloviča have also been accepted.

Statistics: the older a person, the lonelier that person is

17 % of the population aged 75 and over mentioned that during the last month have felt lonely all or most of the time, while such an assessment among younger people aged 25–34 was given ten times less frequently.

Opinion: oligarchs’ wallet won’t work in Latvia’s first open presidential election

The President of the Republic of Latvia may be an opportunity for Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes, to receive a pardon in case the court finds him guilty in the criminal process that has been continuing for years.

Video: British Prime Minister announces stepping down on June 7

The head of the British government, Theresa May, listened to pressure from her own Conservative Party and announced plant to resign on June 7 without reaching the Brexit compromise she was aiming for.

Justice Minister says Latvia’s government will not exist without his party

Without New Conservative Party, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government would cease to exist, said the leader of NCP and Latvia’s Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Friday, 24 May.

Estonian electricity grid operator enters deal to join European network

Estonian electricity and gas network operator Elering has signed the agreement to become part of the synchronous electricity network of Continental Europe together with Latvia and Lithuania.

Many EU citizens not allowed to vote in UK

During the European Parliament’s elections in the United Kingdom, many citizens from other European Union member states have been turned away at polling stations.

Baltic railway carriers desire open market for free competition

«Attempts to commence cross-border cooperation with private carriers of neighbouring Baltic States are impeded in order to preserve dependence on services of state railway companies,» said Baltic Express director Māris Bremze after a meeting between heads of Baltic private railway carriers.

Heads of Latvian Railway lose Latvian State Railway Administration’s trust

Latvia’s State Railway Administration has sent a letter to Transport Ministry and Latvian Railways. In it they ask the government to «evaluate behaviour of LDz leading officials – Edvīns Bērziņš and Aivara Strakšas – in writing an application containing false information and thereby organizing a discrediting campaign against State Railway Administration».

Stoltenberg expresses NATO’s full readiness to react to Russian cyberattacks

NATO stood ready to respond to cyber attacks from Russia and other possible adversaries with all its capabilities, the Secretary General of the alliance has stated.

Weather becomes cooler in Latvia; meteorologists promise warmth will return

On Friday, 24 May, an atmospheric front will pass through Latvia, causing cloudy weather, rain and thunderstorms in eastern portions of the country.

Eco Baltia concerned about possible complications in waste management procurement in Riga

Eco Baltia supervisory board has voiced no-confidence to the concern’s environment management company Eco Baltia vide’s board members Māris Simanovičs and Jānis Aizbalts over the decision to found CREB Riga together with public waste management service provider Clean R.

Study: 50.6% of enterprises view Latvia’s business-related legislative environment negatively

Latvia’s business-related legislation is poor to very poor, according to 50.6% of interviewed entrepreneurs. Only 19.2% view legislation as either very good or more or less good, according to Turība University’s Business Index.

Lithuania: Nausėda and Šimonytė set to square off in Sunday’s runoff election

The nail-biter presidential election will produce late Sunday a new host of the presidential palace in Vilnius’ Daukantas square for next five years, but which of two candidates will be there, now only God knows.

Political carousel. Survey of Latvian political parties aiming for EP elections

Although Latvia will have eight seats in the European Parliament, there are 249 candidates from 16 political parties. If you have yet to make a choice who is worthy of representing Latvia and the country’s interests it is worth looking into party leaders told BNN news portal in regards to their political priorities.

25% Estonian voters have voted days before European elections

Estonian voters have been active in early and online voting as a total of 25,4% of eligible voters have taken part in the European Parliament’s elections. The election days in the Baltic states are on Saturday or Sunday depending on the country.

Producer prices in industry in Latvia grow 3.8% in April

Compared to April 2018, average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 3.8 % in April 2019. The level of prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 6.0 % and that of exported products – by 1.8 %.