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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.

Financial Action Task Force decides to not add Latvia to its «grey list»

The world’s central anti-money laundering organization Financial Action Task Force has decided to not exercise increased monitoring of Latvia. This means the country will not be added to the organization’s «grey list», as LETA was informed by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s office.

Latvian minister outlines Germany as an important strategic partner

Germany is a strategically important economic partner for Latvia, said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs during his meeting with Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier on Friday, 21 February.

Access to illegal TV content denied to 11 000 Latvian households last year

In 2019 access to illegal TV content in Latvia was denied to 11 000 households. A dozen criminal processes have been commenced over illegal supply of audiovisual content, as reported by State Police.

Producer price level in Latvia’s industry down 1.3%

Compared to December 2019, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry didn't change in January 2020. Prices of products sold on the domestic market reduced by 0.7 %, but prices of exported products – increased by 0.7 %.

In China, coronavirus hits prisons as 500 prisoners and guards infected

In China, the outbreak of the dangerous coronavirus continues, over 500 cases of infections have been registered in prisons. Meanwhile, death toll from health problems related to the virus has reached 2 236, according to The Guardian.

Saudi Arabia provides Latvian companies stable tax regime

Latvia and Saudi Arabia have plans to provide businesses with stable tax regimes for companies working in each respective country without coverage from the other country’s regulations, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Estonia accuses Russia over large cyberattack against Georgia

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu has stated that Estonia, just as Georgia and a number of Western countries, sees a Russian intelligence service as having perpetrated a large cyberattack on Georgia in autumn 2019, according to a statement on the web site of the Estonian Foreign Ministry.

Latvian Healthcare Ministry puts third stage of e-health project on hold

Healthcare Ministry plans to focus on existing e-health services and will not develop their next stage, said minister llze Viņķele at a press-briefing on Friday, 21 February.

Latvian Saeima decides to reduce planned excise tax rise for alcohol

The increase of excise tax rate for alcoholic beverages planned for 1 March will be more moderate. This much is provided by amendments to the Law on Excise Duties approved in the final reading by the Saeima on Thursday, 20 February, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Irish PM Varadkar loses confidence of parliament

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has stepped down from office after he failed to win the confidence of the majority of the new composition of the Irish legislature, British news portal The Guardian reports.

National Electronic Mass Media Council agrees on members’ duties

Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council, following the election of two new council members, has agreed on duties of members, as confirmed by newly-elected NEPLP members in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Shareholder Juris Radzevičs dismisses Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks board member

Juris Radzevičs, who is a shareholder in LLC Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks has dismissed RNP board member Ardis Pāvilsons, as LETA was told by the official.

Germany remembers victims of Hanau shooting; attacks investigated as terrorism

In Germany, the death toll of the Hanau shooting attacks has risen to nine people. Police has pointed to a possibly racist mindset of the suspected attacker and is investigating the crimes as terrorism, BBC and DW report.

Experts predict number of electric vehicles in Latvia exceeding 36 000 by 2030

There will be more than 36 000 electric vehicles in Latvia by 2030. This prediction was voiced by AS Latvenergo board member Kaspars Cikmačs during Clear Energy for Transports conference on Thursday, 20 February.

Highest volume of harvested grains recorded in Latvia’s history in 2019

In 2019 the highest harvested production of grain was recorded – 3.2 million tonnes, which is 1.1 million tonnes or 1.5 times more than a year ago.

Denmark cancels Misāne’s extradition to SAR in favour of extradition to Latvia

On Thursday, 20 February, the Danish court approved the decision of the Danish office of the prosecutor to cancel Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne’s extradition to the South African Republic. On top of that, the Danish office of the prosecutor has also decided to extradite the woman to Latvia instead, as reported by Ritzau.

Warmest winter anyone can remember is wreaking havoc on Lithuania’s nature and store shelves

This winter, so abnormally warm in Lithuania, is bewildering everyone and is wreaking havoc both in the nature and on the store shelves.

Finnish court acquits Baltic online alcohol seller over tax evasion

A court in Finland has delivered a not guilty ruling in a case, where a man had been charged with tax evasion over the online sale of alcohol to Finns in Latvia and Estonia, using online platforms, Finnish broadcaster YLE reports.

Latvian Saeima committee to consider initiative to establish a park at former Marss cycling track

On Thursday, 20 February, the Saeima decided to submit the collective initiative on establishing a part on the territory of the former cycling track Marss to the parliament’s National Security Committee for review, BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Ruling in Maxima tragedy criminal case to be appealed

Riga City Pārdaugava Court’s ruling in the Maxima tragedy criminal case will definitely be appealed, said senior prosecutor Aivars Ostapko in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Thursday, 20 February.

Proposal voiced to deny Aivars Lembergs the option to enter the Saeima

A proposal has been voiced to deny suspended Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes and is added to the list of sanctions of USA, the right to participate in Saeima’s activities, according to information from LTV.

Latvian police liquidates fake news site www.aumytests.net. Employee detained

Latvian State Police has detained a 2001-born young man for reporting fake news, BNN was informed by police.

Cyber security drill held by Estonia in NATO Parliamentary Assembly

In Brussels, during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Estonian experts have held a strategic cyber drill, where member state legislators have been asked to look for solutions in a simulated cyber incident, ERR reports.

Turkey warns of military operation in Syria to stop government-Russian forces

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that Turkey’s offensive in north-eastern Syria could start at any moment with the aim of stopping an offensive of the Syrian government and Russian forces on opposition-controlled territory, BBC reports.

Riga Zoological Garden board members Līdaka and Morozovs laid off

Both Riga National Zoological Garden’s chairman of the board Ingmārs Līdaka and board member Andris Morozovs have been fired from their respective posts, as confirmed by Līdaka.

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