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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.

Subsidies to controversial Riga transport company could increase by EUR 20 mln

Amid the criticism of the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme for its losses and their effect on the Latvian state budget, a plan has been voiced to increase its subsidies, now 120 million euros, by another 20 million euros, Latvian Radio reports.

Latvian Minister keeping adviser detained by corruption watchdog for now

Latvian Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards will clarify the reason, why his advisor and the mayor of the city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, has been detained by corruption investigators, to decide on keeping him in office.

Trump, Macron willing to readmit Russia to G7, despite Crimea annexation

The leaders of France and the United States have expressed their backing to readmitting Russia to the G7 conference of world powers in 2020, despite Ukraine’s Crimea still being held by Moscow, CNN reports.

Latvian excise tax income up by 8% in first half of 2018

The Latvian excise tax income in the first half of 2019 has been 521 million euros, –an increase by 39 million euros, or 8.1% – compared to the respective period last year, showed data by the Latvian State Revenue Service.

Latvian PM: Most of freely available 2020 budget funds already earmarked

Discussing the 2020 Latvian national budget, Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš pointed out that its fiscal space is limited by previous decisions and that the expected losses of the Riga transport company will not permit raising wages and pensions nationally.

Corruption watchdog detains Ogre city mayor Helmanis

The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has on Wednesday detained the mayor of central Latvian city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, according to LETA news agency.

New members to Freeport of Riga Authority elected, despite criticism

The Riga City Council elected to the Board of the Freeport of Riga Authority, mayor Oļegs Burovs and councilman Sandris Bergmanis, despite heavy criticism of the latter for incompetence and lack of vision.

Italy loses government, coalition of right-wing, anti-establishment parties collapses

Italy has lost its government with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announcing resignation after the right-wing League party pushed for no-confidence motion to its own government.

Kaljulaid opposed to Estonian minister after police chief scandal

Alleging that Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme has violated the law by trying to sack top police chief, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has stated that the minister has no place in the government.

Planned Latvian economic cases’ court conceptually backed by government

The plan by the Latvian Ministry of Justice to establish a court of economic cases has on Tuesday, August 20, been supported by the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

Riga deputy mayor posts go to Harmony and independent politician

In the Riga City Council, deputy mayors have been elected with one post going to Anna Vladova from Harmony and the other – to Vadims Baraņņiks from the group of independent councilmen.

Latvia charges energy company executives for attempted fraud

Two board members of Latvian power company SIA Rīgas enerģija have been charged in a criminal case for an attempt to acquire with deceit the rights to supply electricity as part of the mandatory procurement component programme.

Consumer protection: 34% of Latvians admit post-vacation financial difficulties

During vacation, 77% of Latvians spend more money than planned, but 34% admit having trouble making ends meet after vacation, according to a poll by the Latvian Consumer Protection Centre.

Firms like Riga transport company to be banned from working with losses, minister says

As the European Union’s statisticians have classified the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme in the debt of the national budget, it is planned in Latvia to prohibit such companies from working with losses, Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs has told LNT 900 sekundes programme.

Minor dies in large fire in Latvia

An underage person has been found dead in a large fire in the Latvian region of Vidzeme, the Latvian Fire and Rescue Service has said. Person wascsaved from burning house in Liepāja.

UK aims to end free entry of EU citizens on October 31

UK to stop free migration from European Union member states to the country right after the likely no-deal Brexit on October 31, the British government has stated.

Riga city elects new mayor – Oļegs Burovs – and restores decade-old coalition

The Riga City Council has elected Oļegs Burovs as the new mayor, ending two months of political discussions and restoring the coalition that has ruled in the Latvian capital for ten years.

EU: Rīgas satiksme cuts Latvian budget fiscal room in 2020 by 72 mln EUR

The Riga city company Rīgas satiksme should, according to European Union criteria, be in included in the general government sector, thus it would cut the fiscal space of the 2020 Latvian state budget by 72 million euros, Finance Ministry stated.

Latvijas Krājbanka’s administrator recovered 542 thousand euros in July

The administrator of the insolvent Latvian bank Latvijas Krājbanka recovered 524 444 euros in July, which is by 75% more than a month earlier, according to the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis.

Latvian post-reform administrative centres to have 2 000 - 630 000 populations

After the planned administrative reform of Latvia, the population size of the administrative centres of the new municipalities is expected to vary from 2 000 to 632 000 people, according to a conceptual report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

A week of warm, but changing weather forecast for Latvia

Weather in Latvia this week is expected to be summer-like and warm, with rain expected on Thursday and Friday, according to the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Kabul wedding terror attack committed by Islamic State, the group says

Responsibility for the terror attack in Afghanistan, where explosives killed 63 people. has been claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group.

British Gibraltar releases seized Iran oil tanker

An Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar, part of the United Kingdom, has sailed away from port after being allowed to do so despite Washington’s call to detain it again.

BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s biggest budget; PNB Bank halts operations; Latvia sad with Latvia

Some positive news surfaced in Latvia this week – Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš announced that the country’s next budget will be the largest one yet and will exceed EUR 10 billion. In spite of this, however, financial difficulties have been observed – PNB Bank has ended up in a tight spot. The bank’s shortage of funds has forced Finance and Capital Market Commission to halt all of the bank’s financial operations.

Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

Last week, President Gitanas Nausėda rejected the government’s candidate for EU judge, hints of big changes at Šiaulių Bankas ahead

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