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Saturday 29.02.2020 | Name days:

Week in Lithuania: MP Rozova in trouble, Swedes express concern over forests law, court frees Russian suspect

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

Last week in Lithuania, a parliamentary investigation was opened over possible Russia ties of a lawmaker, while Swedish diplomats sounded alarm over a restrictive forest law. Lithuanian singing revolution figure Landsbergis appealed to Amazon to remove Soviet-themed goods.

MP Rozova in hot water over Russian ties

Valdemar Tomaševski, leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, says he had no knowledge of MP Irina Rozova’s communication with Russian diplomats regarding funding for the Russian Alliance she represents. Earlier this week, the Lithuanian Seimas’ Committee on National Security and Defence decided to launch a parliamentary investigation into the matter after getting acquainted with the State Security Department’s (SSD) information about the MP. Meanwhile, leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, Ramūnas Karbauskis, has called MPs to impeach Seimas speaker Viktoras Pranckietis who allowed Rozova to access certain classified information.

Swedish Embassy voices investors’ forest concern

The Swedish Embassy in Vilnius said it handed over investors’ concern over amendments placing restrictions on forest land acquisitions to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda’s team but did not ask the president to veto the bill. According to the embassy, several small and medium investors turned to the embassy after the Seimas of Lithuania adopted the amendments on restricting forest land acquisitions, and they expressed concern over ownership restrictions and the bill’s impact on Swedish business in Lithuania.

President: Europe can no longer blindly rely on US for its security

Europe can no longer blindly rely on the United States for its security and must take on more responsibility, President Gitanas Nausėda said Thursday, August 22, addressing an international conference hosted by ex-Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus.

Vilnius court frees Russian oil contamination suspect

Vilnius Regional Court on Thursday, August 22, released Roman Ruzhechko, a suspect in a Russian oil pipeline contamination probe, from detention. Ruzhechko was arrested in the middle of July. Russian law-enforcement officials are seeking the extradition of Ruzhechko whom they suspect of involvement in the contamination of Transneft’s Druzhba oil pipeline. The oil pipeline was temporarily shut down on April 19 after it was found to contain oil with a high content of dichloroethane, a toxic substance with strong corrosive properties

Lithuania’s EMSI fails to halt Via Baltica reconstruction project

The Lithuanian-capital filling station chain EMSI has failed in its bid to temporarily halt the reconstruction of the Via Baltica’s section from Marijampole in southern Lithuania to the Polish border. On August 21, the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court issued a final and binding ruling, rejecting EMSI’s complaint over the Via Baltica reconstruction. The dispute between the Transport Ministry and filling stations operating near the Via Baltica section broke out after it was announced that, under the project, drivers would access filling stations only by leaving the highway and taking connecting roads and viaducts. The Road Administration says the Via Baltica section will be turned into a highway with the maximum speed of 130 km per hour, therefore, direct access to filling stations is impossible.

Opposition collects signatures to turn to top court over cabinet reshuffle

The Opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats announced on Thursday, August 22, they have collected the necessary signatures to turn to the Constitutional Court over the procedure for giving powers to the government. On Tuesday, August 20, the Seimas gave a renewed mandate to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ reshuffled Cabinet without holding a separate vote on the government’s program. The opposition maintain, however, that the Cabinet needed a renewed mandate from the parliament because half of its ministers have been replaced since its was appointed in 2016.

Landsbergis asks Amazon to stop sale of Soviet-themed goods

Lithuania’s first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis on Thursday, August 22, called on the US e-commerce giant Amazon to stop selling Soviet-themed products. Landsbergis posted his open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Facebook on the eve of the 80th anniversary of a Nazi-Soviet pact that paved the way for the Soviet occupation of the three Baltic countries. Baltic politicians have repeatedly called in the past on global companies not to sell Soviet-themes products, saying that such goods offend the victims of the Soviet terror.

Seimas approves Sinkevičius’ nomination for European commissioner

Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament, approved on Thursday, August 22, the nomination of Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius for European commissioner. The motion was passed in a vote of 90 to ten with six abstentions. The nomination of the 28-year-old member of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union has already been approved by the government and President Gitanas Nausėda and is yet to be endorsed by the European Parliament. His career includes positions at the state-run airport operator Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports), Lietuvos Paštas (Lithuanian Post) and the government’s foreign investment promotion agency Invest Lithuania.

PM: Lithuania does not need to stimulate economy yet

Lithuania does not yet need to take measures to stimulate the economy, but the government is ready to do so if faced with unfavourable external circumstances, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, August 21. According to Skvernelis, one of the measures to manage risks is to build up a reserve.  Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said last October that the state’s reserve was likely to grow to 1.5 billion euros in 2019. In late March, the Finance Ministry revised its GDP growth forecast for this year downward to 2.6 per cent, from 2.8 per cent previously, and cut its projection for 2020 to 2.4 per cent, from 2.5 per cent.

Lithuanians living abroad to have single-member constituency

The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday, August 20, created conditions for the establishment of a special single-member constituency for Lithuanian citizens voting abroad during general elections. The motion was backed by 88 MPs, four were against and 14 abstained. For the new provisions to be adopted, the president needs to sign the bill into law. Under the proposed amendments, drafted by Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, and his fellow party member Agnė Širinskienė, a single-member constituency for world Lithuanians would be established if during the latest election at Lithuanian embassies and consular establishments, the number of voters exceeds 0.9 per cent of the average number of voters in all single-member constituencies.

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Gints Miķelsons put in charge of Latvian Construction Contractors Partnership

From 1 March 2020 onward Gints Miķelsons, who has been the head of Latvian Sustainable Construction Council will be in charge of the Latvian Construction Contractors Partnership, as confirmed by construction contractors.

While Latvia’s GDP grows 2.2%, other Baltic States experience more rapid growth

In 2019, Latvia experienced the slowest GDP growth among Baltic States, according to data from Latvia’s Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Latvia’s GDP growth reportedly 2.2% in 2019

Compared to 2018, the economic growth continued and Gross Domestic Product increased by 2.2 %. In 2019, GDP at current prices amounted to EUR 30.5 billion. Compared to Q3, in Q4 2019 GDP at constant prices grew by 0.1 %, according to seasonally and calendar adjusted data.

Retail trade turnover in Latvia up 2.6% in January

Compared to January 2019, total retail trade turnover rose by 2.6 % in January 2020. Turnover of retail trade in food products grew by 4.4 %.

Vilnis Ķirsis to remain in charge of Unity’s faction in Riga

On Thursday, 27 February, Vilnis Ķirsis was once again picked as the head of Unity party’s faction in Riga, as confirmed by the party.

Latvia and USA sign joint declaration to enhance 5G network security

On Thursday, 27 February, Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sign a joint US-Latvian declaration on 5G network security, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Estonian Tallink Grupp sees profit growth of EUR 9.7 million on year

Estonian provider of ferry transport and related services Tallink Grupp has worked in 2019 with a net profit of 49.7 million euros, according to its unaudited financial results of the year, as reported by Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

Jakrins reportedly a beneficiary in a company that organizes Brasas and Deglava bridge repairs

Long-standing Riga City Council official Emīls Jakrins, who was in charge of the Transport Department not long ago, is beneficiary and factual owner of LLC TecPro Construction, which is a contractor to Lithuanian company Kauno tiltai, which has been hired by the city council to repair Brasas and Deglavas bridges, as reported by Diena newspaper, referencing unofficial information.

UK ready to switch to WTO trade rules if no EU by end of year

The British government has declared that unless concessions are made by Brussels in EU-UK talks on their future cooperation, the former EU member would trade with the bloc on WTO rules from 2021, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Residents able to submit compulsory income declarations by 1 June; VID urges using EDS

March 2020 will mark the beginning of the three-month period within which all residents for whom it is compulsory will be able to submit their income declaration for 2019. This period will last three years for residents for whom this process is voluntary, as reminded by the State Revenue Service.

Lithuanian border guards start informing travellers about the situation with Covid-19

As the new coronavirus Covid-19 continues spreading in Europe, Lithuanian border guards have begun informing travellers from Latvia and Poland about necessary protective measures.

Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, in regime airstrike, Ankara says

In the current epicentre of the Syrian civil war, 33 soldiers of the NATO member state Turkey have been killed as Syrian government military aviation carried out attacks on Turkish military posts set up in its neighbouring country, German broadcaster DW reports citing Ankara.

Weather in Latvia to be winter-like at week’s end

Weather in Latvia is expected to be winter-like at the end of the week – air temperature is expected to drop below 0° C at night in most of the country. In some areas cold snap may be felt during the day, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

First coronavirus infection case found in Lithuania

The first coronavirus infection case is confirmed in Lithuania, as mentioned in Lithuanian government’s statement released on Friday, 28 February, as reported by

SPKC urges passengers of 26 February Istanbul-Riga flight to respond

Latvia’s Disease Control and Prevention Centre is looking for passengers who flew together with confirmed coronavirus patient from Istanbul to Riga on Wednesday, 26 February.

Regional hospitals in Latvia report high demand for protective clothing

Because of the outbreak of the new coronavirus Covid-19, demand has considerably increased for individual protective clothing, which forces prices to go up, as reported by heads of hospitals.

Rail Baltica not just marvelled, but cussed too in Lithuania

If implemented, the ambitious 5.8-billion euro Rail Baltica project aiming to build a nearly 1000-kilometer rail link from Helsinki to Poland through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will be a major infrastructural achievement of the Baltics, but the possibility of dashing at the now surreal speed of 250 kilometres per hour as soon as in 2026, when the project is slated for completion, comes at expense of many land owners in Lithuania’s six municipalities, which will be crossed by the European-gauge tracks.

Construction costs in Latvia up 2.8% in January

Compared to December 2019, the level of construction costs in Latvia fell by 0.2 % in January 2020. Labour remuneration of workers reduced by 0.9 %, prices of building materials – by 0.1 %, but maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment – rose by 0.2 %.

In Greece, violent protests against new migrant camps continue for 3rd day

In Greece, continued protests and clashes have resulted in over 60 people suffering injuries as people on the islands of Lesbos and Chios protest against the construction of new migrant centres, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Minister says Latvia’s initiated territorial reform will create more sustainable municipalities

The report from the European Commission mentions that Latvian government’s initiated administrative territorial reform will create more sustainable municipalities with greater capacity and ability to provide services of comparable quality, as reported by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

Latvian Saeima changes the prosecutor general’s selection order

On Thursday, 27 February, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments to the order under which the country’s prosecutor general is selected.

Textile producer in Lithuania complies with Greenpeace standards in industrial textile making

Lithuanian textiles producer Utenos Trikotažas has been deemed by environmental protection organisation Greenpeace as complying with the standards of the later as to not using hazardous chemicals and being fair and transparent in its business, LRT reports.

From March onward prices of alcoholic beverages to increase in Latvia

Through a measured and gradual increase of excise tax rate policy, starting with 1 March 2020 the excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages in Latvia will increase, as confirmed by the State Revenue Service.

435 whistle-blower reports received in eight months in Latvia

In the first year of the Whistleblowing Law, Latvian central state institutions have received 435 reports from whistle-blowers, as reported by the State Chancellery.

Estonia finds first positive coronavirus case

In Estonia, the first case of a person being infected with the novel coronavirus has been found, stated Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik on Thursday, February 27, as cited by Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

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