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Ceturtdiena 20.02.2020 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

Week in Lithuania: New party announced, Seimas tightens pollution control, preparations for coronavirus

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Lithuania, new party, Seimas, pollution, coronavirus, Farmers and Greens

Lithuanian lawmaker Remigijus Žemaitaitis

In Lithuania, the top news stories were the founding of a new party, legislative action to improve pollution control and taking actions against the potential arrival of the dangerous novel coronavirus.

Lithuania’s LFGU leader turns to SIS

Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, said on Thursday he had turned to the country’s Special Investigation Service (SIS) over the careers of persons linked to former Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis. Karbauskis claims a group of people «is travelling» with Masiulis from one state enterprise to another, therefore’ he asked for explanations whether their careers have been transparent and have not created conditions for corruption.

Lithuania takes actions to prevent coronavirus

Lithuania is considering installing thermal sensors at its border crossing points and airports in an effort to prevent the so-called Wuhan coronavirus from entering the country. Deputy Health Minister Algirdas Šešelgis told reporters on Thursday, January 29, that Lithuanian medics have received the necessary reagents and are now able to diagnose coronavirus infections on their own. According to Šešelgis, no suspected cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Lithuania yet.

Lithuania fails to block Russia’s powers at PACE

Lithuania has failed in its attempt to block Russia’s powers at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Avia Solutions Group buying Icelandic cargo airline

Avia Solutions Group (ASG), a global aviation business group controlled by Lithuanian businessman Gediminas Žiemelis, is buying Iceland-based cargo airline Bluebird Nordic.  An agreement with the BB Holding ehf to acquire 100 per cent of shares in Bluebird Nordic was signed on January 24, the group said in a press release. ASG’s consolidated net profits almost doubled in 2018 from 2017 to 14.05 million euros. Annual revenue jumped by 25 per cent to 420 million euros.

Lithuania, Poland assign brigades to NATO headquarters

Lithuania and Poland on Wednesday, January 29, agreed to each assign a military brigade to NATO’s headquarters in Poland to facilitate joint exercises. The countries’ chiefs of defence signed an act of affiliation of Lithuania’s Mechanized Brigade Iron Wolf and Poland’s 15th Mechanized Brigade to NATO’s Multinational Division North East. The brigades will remain under the command of their respective countries, but NATO’s headquarters will be able to train with them in joint military exercises.

Political quest under musketeers’ slogan

The political forces led by Lithuanian lawmaker Remigijus Žemaitaitis, former Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas and former Speaker of the Seimas Artūras Paulauskas will run for parliament as a political compound called «Freedom and Justice» and under a modified musketeers’ slogan. The politicians presented the name and slogan of the future party at a press conference on Wednesday, January 29. The politicians plan to establish the new party in May.

LFGU leader sees basis for Rozova’s impeachment

Ramunas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, says he sees a basis for launching impeachment proceedings against MP Irina Rozova. He said he signed the impeachment proposal as otherwise he would have been accused by the opposition of defending Rozova. Karbauskis also chastised the opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats that did nothing about the Rozova situation, despite knowing about it.

Caffeine to expand in Scandinavia

Lithuanian café chain Caffeine, acquired by Norway’s Reitan Convenience last year, will start operating at Copenhagen Airport, the Verslo Žinios business daily reported. Vigintas Bartasevičius, head of Reitan Convenience Lietuva, says it would have been difficult to access foreign market without a Scandinavian shareholder. In his words, Caffeine also operated in a hospital in Oslo and also has expansion plans in the Norwegian capital.

Lithuania tightens handling of hazardous chemicals

Lithuania is tightening the handling and control of hazardous chemicals to implement new European requirements. The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday, January 28, unanimously backed changes to the Laws on Chemical Substances and Preparations and Environmental Protections, as well as to the Code of Administrative Offences.

Seimas sets fines for some free plastic bags in stores

The Lithuanian parliament voted on Tuesday, January 28, to establish fines of thousands of euros on retailers for giving out free plastic bags thicker than 15 microns. The draft amendments to the Law on Environmental Protection and the Code of Administrative Offenses were passed unanimously by the Seimas. Retailers will face fines of 1,000 to 3,000 euros for providing free plastic bags and up to 5,000 euros for a repeated violation of the ban. This will not apply to ultra-lightweight plastic bags (less than 15 microns thick) used for loose bulk items.

Thirteen people suspected of squandering Ūkio Bankas assets

Vladimir Romanov, Ūkio Bankas’ former majority shareholder, and 12 other people are suspected of squandering over 40 million euros in assets of the Lithuanian bank that collapsed seven years ago, prosecutors confirmed on Tuesday, January 28. It is alleged the illegitimate funds were laundered via the accounts of 80 legal and natural persons and used to purchase real estate. A part of the money was used to increase the authorized share capital of a Belarusian-registered company.

Seimas tightens pollution controls

The Seimas passed on Tuesday, January 28, a package of laws that tighten the control and prevention of environmental pollution amid revelations of new pollution incidents in the country.  The so-called «Klaipėda package» allows the authorities to revoke a company’s pollution permit if it breaks the law three times a year or if at least one violation continues for more than half a year. It also gives environmental officials the right to inspect businesses 24 hours a day without prior notice.

Historian Edvardas Gudavičius passes away

Lithuania’s prominent history professor Edvardas Gudavičius has passed away at the age of 90, Rimvydas Petrauskas, rector-elect of Vilnius University, said on Monday, January 27.

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Kristīnes Misāne’s representatives say her extradition is temporarily halted

The extradition of Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne, who is accused of kidnapping her own child, to the South African Republic has been temporarily halted, as Delfi TV ar Jānis Domburs was told by the woman’s sister Mārīte Batraka.

Estonian wind farm land sold for EUR 51.4 million

In Estonia, the auction of a 160-hectare plot of land intended for the erection of wind turbines, has been won by Estonian energy giant Eesti Energia, which offered the price of 51.5 million euros, ERR reports.

Citskovskis: around 3 000 people have left state administration in Latvia in three years

Over the course of three years the number of people employed in Latvia’s state administration has reduced by 3 000 people, as reported by State Chancellery director Jānis Citskovskis at a meeting of Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, 19 February.

European Central Bank annuls PNB Bank’s license

The European Central Bank has made a decision to liquidate PNB Bank’s license, as confirmed by Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Number of births in Latvia has increased in January since last year

Over the past four years, birth number is declining, however during the year there are months when greater birth number is registered. Provisional data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia show that 1.6 thousand newborns were registered in January 2020, which is 5 % more than in the corresponding month a year ago.

133 jobs in welfare liquidated in Latvia last year

A total of 133 jobs were liquidated in Latvia’s welfare sector last year. This was done to reduce and optimize institutions and administration in this sector, as confirmed by Welfare Minister’s advisor Liesma Kalve.

Latvia needs almost 300 million euros to afford Rail Baltica

The funding Latvia needs to implement Rail Baltica project is EUR 297 620 500. This includes EUR 242 385 425 from the Connecting Europe Facility and EUR 55 235 075 from the state co-financing, as reported by Transport Ministry’s communication office.

Spanish government approves digital tax, but waits for OECD deal

As European Union member states seek to tax the profitable business of tech giants, Spanish government has passed a digital services tax, which could affect such US companies as Facebook and Google, according to The Guardian.

Estonian police finds potentially fatal substances added to illegal drugs

In Estonia, the police have informed the society about finding rat poison and washing powder in illegal drugs, ERR reports.

Kariņš: it is blatant we’ve had to wait for so long for a ruling in Maxima tragedy case

It is blatant that we have had to wait for more than six years between the Maxima tragedy and a ruling in the criminal case, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 19 February.

Latvian government takes over National Opera building

The government has decided to take over the Latvian National Opera and Ballet building and hand it over to Culture Ministry for management, as reported by the ministry’s representative Lita Kokale.

Ukraine warfare escalates; OSCE calls for restraint

In Eastern Ukraine, this week has been marked with a deadly battle between Ukrainian government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called on sides to adhere to agreed ceasefire, US news portal Radio Free Europe reports.

Rīgas satiksme new management’s stance on contract with Rīgas karte remains unclear

Municipal public transport company LLC Rīgas satiksme’s new board offers no clarity in relation to potentially terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as Saeima’s Public Expenditures and Audit Committee was told by RS board chairperson Džineta Innusa.

UK would not give visas to unskilled EU labour after Brexit

The British government has announced its immigration plan for the period after Brexit. It sets forth not issuing visas to unskilled labour from European countries, the BBC reports.

Attīstībai/Par! and Progressive party to run in Riga elections together

Party union Attīstībai/Par! and the Progressive party have decided to put together a shared list of candidates in the upcoming snap elections in Riga. Mārtiņš Staķis will be their mayoral candidate, as confirmed by Attīstībai/Par! representative Aleksis Zoldners.

Einars Repše becomes Baltic International Bank’s council head’s advisor

Latvia’s ex-prime minister and once the governor of the Bank of Latvia Einars Repše has become the advisor to Baltic International Bank’s council chairman Valērijs Belokoņs, as confirmed by the bank.

Prosecutor General’s Office requests Denmark to extradite Misāne to Latvia

The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia has sent a request to Danish authorities regarding the extradition of Kristīne Misāne to the country, as confirmed by the office’s press-secretary Laura Majevska.

In pictures: UK hit by heaviest winter floods of past years

The storm Dennis has heavy flooding to the United Kingdom as widespread rainfall came a week after the powerful storm Ciara, according to The Guardian.

FDP: economic growth may be slowed by multiple global and domestic risks

Latvia’s Fiscal Discipline Council agree on Finance Ministry’s analysis, expecting the strong effect from slowed economic growth to remain in 2020, the council says.

Estonia dismisses Beijing’s call to amend intelligence report unfavourable to China

Estonian diplomats have rejected a call by the Chinese Embassy in Tallinn to amend an annual security report by the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service pointing to growing influence of China in Estonia, ERR reports.

Latvian ex-state secretary has no plans to take disciplinary case to court

Economy Ministry’s state secretary Ēriks Eglītis, who was suspended from his post, has no plans at the moment to take the disciplinary case to court, as the man confirmed in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 18 February.

Multi-billionaire Bezos promises USD 10 billion to help tackle climate change

In the US, the founder of the e-commerce giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has pledged to allocate a funding of USD 10 billion for fighting climate change, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Latvia will continue fighting for fair financing in EU’s next multi-year budget

It is in Latvia’s interests to reach a timely agreement on the next European Union (EU) multi-year budget to help contribute to projects and secure uninterrupted investments in Latvia, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Land acquisition for Rail Baltica going slow in Estonia

As Estonia seeks a stretch of land across the country for the construction of the pan-Baltic railway Rail Baltica, only 32 plots of land have been acquired out of some 650 needed, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Construction engineer Sergets sentenced to six years in prison in Maxima tragedy case

On Tuesday, 18 February, Riga City Pārdaugava Court commenced reading the ruling in the so-called Maxima tragedy criminal case, sentencing construction engineer Ivars Sergets to six years in prison, as well as five year prohibition to work in his profession.

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