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Saturday 18.01.2020 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Week in Lithuania: Olympic hero gets disqualified, PM wins confidence, Nausėda visits Latvia

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

Lithuanian Olympic gold medalist Rūta Meilutytė

Last week, Lithuania’s new President Gitanas Nausėda paid visit to his Latvian counterpart, Egils Levits, PM Skvernelis won confidence vote in Parliament and Olympics’ winner got disqualified for two years.

President in Latvia discusses joint infrastructure projects

President Gitanas Nausėda on Tuesday, July 23, paid visit to his Latvian counterpart Egils Levits. During the meeting bilateral relations, and positions on shared goals in the EU and NATO, as well as defence and security issues, strategic transport infrastructure projects Via Baltica and Rail Baltica and joint energy projects were discussed. Before the visit Nausėda emphasised the extraordinary unity of the Baltic people, the common history, values and interests that Lithuanian and Latvian people share. In Riga, Nausėda laid flowers at the Freedom Monument and visited the National Library of Latvia where he saw a collection of rare and valuable books.

PM fails to present ministerial candidates to president

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has failed this week to present to President Gitanas Nausėda candidates to his updated government, despite his earlier pledge to do so. The ruling parties in a new coalition have decided to replace three ministers, including those of transport, interior and agriculture. PM Skvernelis won a confidence vote in the parliament on Tuesday, July 23, clearing the way for him to continue as prime minister after returning his Cabinet’s powers to the new president.

Lithuania approves almost 70 initiatives to mark history of Jews in 2020

The government endorsed on Wednesday, July 24, a program for marking 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the History of the Jews of Lithuania, covering almost 70 different projects. Deputy Government Chancellor Deividas Matulionis says the planned initiatives will help draw attention to Lithuania’s rich history which is inseparable from the history of Lithuania’s Jews.

Vilnius decides to rename Škirpa street despite protests

After heated discussions and protests, Vilnius’ City Council decided on Wednesday, July 24, to rename a small street in central Vilnius named after Kazys Škirpa, a controversial 20th-century Lithuanian diplomat and military officer, due to his declared anti-Semitic views. The decision to change the name of Kazio Škirpos Aleja at the foot of the capital’s landmark Gediminas Hill to Trispalves Aleja angered opponents who emphasise Škirpa’s role in the fight for Lithuanian independence.

President appoints Skvernelis to continue as PM

President Gitanas Nausėda appointed on Wednesday, July 24, Saulius Skvernelis to continue as prime minister following his Cabinet’s Constitution- embedded resignation after the new president’s inauguration earlier this month. Nausėda gave Skvernelis 15 days to form a new Cabinet.

Olympics’ winner gets disqualified for two years

Lithuania’s retired swimming star Rūta Meilutytė has been disqualified by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) for two years for the violation of the doping rules. The Lithuanian athlete breached the World Anti-Doping Code’s articles under which doping control officers failed to find her in the stated location three times within a period of 12 months. At the age of 15, Meilutytė won a gold medal at the London Olympics. She has won 20 golden medals, 10 silver and one bronze medal at major international competitions.

Seimas speaker cleared by ruling party’s ethics watchdog

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, did not breach ethics rules, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s ethics watchdog ruled on Wednesday, July 24. A complaint against Pranckietis, a member of the Farmers and Greens Union, was filed by the party’s board. Ramūnas Karbauskis, the party’s chairman, told reporters after the board’s meeting last week that they had complained over the speaker’s public statements about his refusal to step down despite the LFGU council’s decision to approve an expanded government coalition agreement.

Justice minister introduces EP committee chair to Jan 13 case

Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius on Thursday, July 25, introduced the chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to the high-profile January 13 case, and also informed about the prosecution of the case’s investigators and judges, launched by Russia. In July, 2018, the Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation against Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who worked on the January 13 case.

Amber Grid signs GIPL pipe contract with Poland’s Izostal

Lithuania’s natural gas transmission system operator Amber Grid, signed on Thursday, July 25, a contract worth 31.9 million euros, including VAT, with Poland’s Izostal for the purchase of steel pipes for the Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL).

Vaikšnoras takes over as Lithuanian Land Force commander

Brigadier General Raimundas Vaikšnoras took over as commander of the Lithuanian Land Force in an official ceremony on Wednesday, July 24, the Defence Ministry said. Vaikšnoras replaced Major General Valdemaras Rupšys, who has been appointed as the country’s chief of defence. Vaikšnoras started his military service in 1991. His military career includes serving as commander of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf.

Vilnius will build national stadium without EU funding

The City Council of Vilnius decided on Wednesday, July 24, to go ahead with the capital’s national stadium project without EU funding, using its own funds and those provided by the central government. The council plans to approve a financing model by November 1. Also, it may explore possibilities for borrowing money. The city would have to provide around 50 million euros for the project, with another 55 million euros to be contributed by the central government.

President moves to stop political parties from using state property for free

President Gitanas Nausėda vetoed on Tuesday, July 23, legislative amendments allowing political parties to continue using state-owned or municipal property free of charge. This is the second piece of legislation that the new president has returned to the parliament for reconsideration this week. According to Nausėda, the amendments to the Law on the Management, Use and Disposal of State and Municipal Assets, adopted by the Seimas on July 9, run counter to the constitutional principles of responsible governance and rational management of public assets.

Lithuania climbs 2 places to 38 on Global Innovation Index

Lithuania rose two places to rank 38th out of 129 countries worldwide on the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019, which was announced this week. Lithuania made it to the top ten in four categories, ranking 4th in mobile app creation and in females employed with advanced degrees, 7th in the pupil-teacher ratio in secondary education, and 10th in ISO 14001 environmental certificates.

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  1. Justs says:

    The history of the Balts and the Jews is entirely separable – There were no Jews in the Baltics until German invaders brought them there.

FKTK lists exceptions in which banks are allowed to service Aivars Lembergs

Latvian Finance and Capital Market Commission has listed cases in which Latvia’s finance market participants will be allowed to service Aivars Lembergs, who is subjected to US OFAC sanctions and accused of serious crimes, and three organizations associated with him – Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association.

Appropriate jobs promised for laid-off LDz workers

Latvian State Employment Agency promises to find appropriate jobs for laid-off Latvian Railway workers. If need be, those people will be provided the opportunity for re-qualification, raise their qualification or train for a new profession, as confirmed by the agency’s representative Signe Bierande.

Bordāns selects potential candidates to lead the Supreme Court and Prosecutor General’s office

I can see people who could take the reins over the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Supreme Court and change their work standards, Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told TV3 programme 900 seconds when asked about any potential candidates to lead those institutions.

Ukrainian Prime Minister ready quit after leaked voice recording

Ukrainian head of government Oleksiy Honcharuk has offered to resign following the circulation of an audio recording, where criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his knowledge in economy is voiced.

Inflation in Latvia reportedly higher than Europe’s and Eurozone’s in December

In December 2019 inflation in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union and Eurozone, according to information published by Eurostat on Friday, 17 January.

Estonian population growth continues in 2019 due to immigration

Estonia has registered in 2019 population growth for the fifth consecutive year and it can be explained with immigration not with natural growth, according to preliminary data released by Statistics Estonia.

BNN investigation | Raunas street property: quiet assistant with a «secret wallet» for Lembergs

There are suspicions that Aivars Lembergs, subjected to international sanctions, has sold real estate located on Raunas Street 27 in Riga to his sister «on paper only». This may have been done to avoid confiscation of properties in the event of a guilty verdict or a possible arrest over the real estate property. However, it is possible Lembergs maintains full control over this real estate property and, most likely, the property is used to fatten his wallet on a regular basis.

Audit: majority of Latvian housing stock has degraded to a state of a slum

Since the denationalization effective access to housing security in Latvia does not exist and most of the housing stock has degraded up to a state of a slum, as concluded by the Latvian State Audit.

Prime minister affirms possibility of carrying oil supplies for Belarus through Latvia

During his meeting with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on Thursday, 16 January, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš affirmed that oil supplies for Belarus may be possible using Latvia’s ports.

Rain in Australia provides relief to continuing fight against bushfires

In eastern Australia, which has been suffering in prolonged and disastrous bushfires, heavy rain has been falling for the past 24 hours.

Weather to remain warm in Latvia at week’s end

At the end of the week the sky in Latvia will become clear and the sun will shine. No precipitation is expected. However, a low atmospheric pressure area will approach the country from the west during weekends, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

GKR helps overthrow Riga’s vice-mayors and put an end to ruling coalition

Riga City Council vice-chairperson Anna Vladova and deputy Druvis Kleins lost their respective posts at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, 16 January. This happened because multiple deputies from Honour to Serve Riga voted together with the opposition in favour of dismissing them.

Latvian Railway plans to lay off 1 500 employees

Latvian Railway plans to terminate labour relations with approximately 1 500 employees before the end of 2020, as reported by the company’s representative Ella Pētermane.

Russian State Duma approves Putin’s new Prime Minister

The Russian State Duma has approved on Thursday, January 16, the candidacy of the country’s next Prime Minister appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ventspils opposition invites Pūce to act to prevent US sanctions from spreading to city council

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry and especially Juris Pūce have to act to resolve the current state of Ventsils City Council. It should be dismissed, as the municipal government does not have moral, ethical or legal foundation to continue managing and implementing the criminal management’s policy, according to Ventspils City Council opposition deputies.

Trade unions urge Latvian government to resolve transit businesses’ blocked bank accounts problem

Multiple trade unions associated with the transit industry have turned to Latvia’s highest ranking officials with a request to resolve the situation with bank accounts of multiple transit companies having been blocked because of US sanctions against Aivars Lembergs. If the government does not act, trade unions promise to organize massive protests.

Anris Leimanis picked as RB Rail council chairman

Anris Leimanis, independent council member from Latvian shareholder, has been picked as Rail Baltica joint Baltic company AS RB Rail council chairman. Ahti Kuningas and Karolis Sankovskis will serve as vice-chairmen, as confirmed by the company.

CSP: number of residents at risk of poverty declines in Latvia

In 2018 a total of 434 thousand persons or 22.9 % of the population of Latvia were at risk of poverty – 0.4 percentage points less than in 2017.

Latvian Saeima to ask Denmark to not extradite Kristīne Misāne to South African Republic

On Thursday, 16 January, Latvian Saeima made the decision to protect the rights of Latvian citizen Kristīnes Misāne, asking the Danish parliament and Danish law enforcers to support their Latvian colleagues and find a solution to avoid extraditing her to the South African Republic, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Smiltēns: Riga City Council’s situation can be described – divide, redistribute and plunder

«The situation in at Riga City Council can be described with three words – divide, redistribute, plunder,» said leader of Latvian Association of Regions Edvards Smiltēns in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 16 January.

One single vote left the Lithuanian election system intact

The understanding that Lithuania’s election system needs changes is nearly overwhelming, but the ruling Farmers and Greens’ attempt to lower the Parliament election threshold in parties’ multi-member constituency from current 5 per cent to 3 per cent suffered a setback this week.

Estonian power grid executive detained over bribery suspicion

The Estonian Internal Security Service has detained a board member of the Elektrilevi power grid operator over suspicion of taking a bribe.

Demographer: Latvia has the lowest birth rate level observed the past decade

Birth rates continued to decline in Latvia in 2019. The lowest level of the past decade was reached in the country last year, says demographer Ilmārs Mežs.

Healthcare Ministry proposes single social fees rate for specialized tax regimes

One percentage point social fee rate for healthcare will be applied not only to general tax regime participants but also those working in special tax regime, such as microenterprises, patent payers and royalty recipients, according to a proposal for Latvian Healthcare Ministry.

U.S. and China reach preliminary trade agreement

Easing the U.S.-China trade conflict the governments of the two countries have agreed on the first step of mutual trade reconciliation. Their disagreements have affected the world economy for the past few years.

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