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Sunday 15.12.2019 | Name days: Jana, Johanna, Hanna
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Week in Lithuania. Plain cigarette packaging, outdoor café, balcony smoking ban proposed

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Lithuania has proposed this week new smoking restrictions. Under new amendments, plain cigarette packaging would be introduced in Lithuania, the display of cigarettes would be banned and smoking in residential balconies, outdoor cafes, beaches and other places would also be prohibited.

Under these amendments, plain cigarette packaging will be introduced in November, 2022 and it will only feature the name of the company and product in a state-approved standard type and colour, and any logo elements or signs will be banned. The amendments to the Law on the Control of Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Related Products have been drafted by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with other institutions.

Baltic PMs met with Netanyahu in Vilnius

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis met with Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, in Vilnius on Friday, August 24. The heads of government discussed the relations between Israel and the European Union, the security situation in the Middle East and the Baltic Sea region, the fight against terrorism, and cooperation in the field of cyber security. After the meeting, Ratas, Skvernelis and Kučinskis headed to Kaunas for an informal meeting. Netanyahu said before the visit he wanted to counter the EU’s «not always friendly» relations with his country by deepening ties with eastern European nations, as he left for a Baltic summit.

Ex-Lithuanian president names biggest threats

The biggest threats Europe and the United State are facing are terrorism, economic uncertainty and migration, former Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said in an international conference on strengthening transatlantic resilience in Vilnius this week. Adamkus called on Europe and the United States to focus on threats posed by Russia and China, as well as challenges to transatlantic unity.

Defendants plead not guilty

The former and incumbent members of the parliament and representatives of political parties, standing trial in a political corruption case in Lithuania, did not plead guilty but they all agreed to testify in court. Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice president of the MG Baltic business group, will testify first on Aug. 27. He is also the first person mentioned in prosecutors’ indictment. He said he did not «understood» the indictment. Eligijus Masiulis, the former leader of the Liberal Movement, said the same. Other defendants in the case, including former Labour Party member Vytautas Gapšys, former MP Sarunas Gustainis and incumbent MP Gintaras Steponavičius also agreed to testify but do not admit their guilt.

Lithuania buys shirt-range missiles from Sweden

Lithuania will spend almost 10 million euros on upgrading the RBS 70 short-range air defence capability the Lithuanian Armed Forces currently have, by purchasing missiles and equipment from Sweden’s Saab. The Ministry of National says the army signed two contracts, worth 9.7 million euros, with Saab on the purchase of improved missiles and BORC night-capability sights, with the delivery starting next year. According to the ministry, with improved missiles the RBS 70 system will be even more effective and dangerous to hostile aircraft, and the advanced BORC night sights will allow soldiers to stay operational during the dark part of the day.

Lithuania to purchase LNG terminal’s ship

Lithuania will purchase the Klaipeda LNG terminal’s floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), named Independence, from Norway’s Hoegh LNG after 2024, the government’s Economic Infrastructure Development Commission decided on Monday, August 20. Long-term borrowing from banks by Klaipėdos Nafta, the LNG terminal’s operator, will help reduce the terminal’s costs for users, particularly the fertilizer manufacturer Achema, the energy producer Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba (LEG) and other large energy producers.

VAT fraud scheme uncovered

Lithuania’s Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) has busted a group of Lithuanian and Latvian nationals who imported 50 tons of refined rapeseed and sunflower oil and sugar into Lithuania from Poland per week without paying the value-added tax (VAT). The international organized group, which was uncovered by investigators from the FNTT Kaunas Regional Board, failed to pay almost 200,000 euros in VAT to the Lithuanian state, the service said. The group consisted of six individuals from Lithuania and Latvia, it said, adding that the number of suspects might increase.

Sabonis named most influential sports figure

Former Lithuanian basketball player Arvydas Sabonis, who previously led the country’s basketball federation, has been named the most influential sports figure in Lithuania, according to a survey by Spinter Tyrimai for the delfi.lt news website, published on Friday. Former discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna, now an MP, came in second in the public poll, followed by swimmer Rūta Meilutytė.

Square named after Nemtsov opened in Vilnius

A square outside the Russian Embassy in Vilnius, named after murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov will be officially opened on Friday, August 24. The official opening ceremony was attended by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, Vladimir Kara-Murza, chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, Boris Vishnevskiy, a Saint Petersburg’s councillor, and Alexey Venediktov, editor-in-chief of the Echo Moskvy radio station. Vilnius became a second city in the world where the memory of Nemtsov was honoured. A strip of Wisconsin Avenue near the Russian Embassy in Washington was named after the late Russian opposition figure in late February.

Suspected Ukrainian murderer detained

A Ukrainian suspected of murder was detained on Thursday, August 23, in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas, local police said. The man, 42, was detained at around 8 p.m. He tried to flee the scene. Two dead Ukrainians were found in Kaunas on Wednesday and Thursday, August 22 and 23 respectively. According to police, the Ukrainian were known to each other as they came to work in the construction sector in Lithuania and planned to leave for Ukraine this week.

Lithuania picks Matelis’ film for Oscar entry

Lithuania has selected «Wonderful Losers. A Different World», a documentary directed by Arūnas Matelis, as its entry for an Academy Awards nomination in the best foreign-language film category. The decision was made by the Lithuanian Oscar Committee, the Lithuanian Film Centre said on Thursday, August 23.

A fallen hero remembered

Lithuania marked on Tuesday, August 21, 27 years since the death of Arturas Sakalauskas, a volunteer soldier who was killed in a clash with Soviet troops outside the parliament building in August 1991, thus becoming the last victim of the Soviet occupation. Genovaitė Sakalauskienė, the mother of Sakalauskas, signatories to Lithuania’s March 1990 independence declaration and members of the Seimas attended on August 21 commemoration ceremony at a memorial stone marking the place where he was killed.

Two conservative MPs unwelcome at Krynica forum

The Lithuanian parliament’s board refused to give the green light for two conservatives MPs, Rasa Juknevičienė and Audronius Ažubalis, to travel to Poland to make speeches at the Krynica Economic Forum in Poland. The Seimas will be represented in the forum, sometimes referred to as the «Eastern Davos», by Andrius Kubilius, another lawmaker of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, and Virgilijus Poderys of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU).


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Aivars Lembergs leaves his post in Latvian Olympic Committee

On Friday, 13 December, individual member of Latvian Olympic Committee and member of its Executive Committee Aivars Lembergs announced to LOK board his decision to leave the organization, BNN was told by LOK press-secretary Mārtiņš Mālmeisters.

Ralfs Kļaviņš and Edvīns Bērziņš leave the board of Latvian Transit Business Association

Chairman of Riga Commercial Port Ralfs Kļaviņš and ex-chairman of Latvian Railway Edvīns Bērziņš have left the board of Latvian Transit Business Association, according to information from Firmas.lv.

US sanctions will not affect companies in which Lembergs no longer has any influence

The sanctions introduced by USA against Lembergs will not affect the companies over which he no longer has control thanks to a ruling of the court.

Liquidation of discount fares on multiple RMS routes would help save money for Rīgas satiksme

By liquidating multiple discounts for passenger fares on multiple LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme routes, LLC Rīgas satiksme public transport company hopes to save approximately EUR 1.75 million a year.

Tallinn region GDP portion decreases in Estonian economy

In 2018, 65% of the Estonian gross value added was created in Harju county, while the rest of the country is inching closed with Harju county, the official statistics of the Baltic country showed.

EU prolongs targeted sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

The European Union has extended for another six months its sanctions against Russia’s energy, finance and military sectors. The continued restrictive measures are said to remain in full until Minsk peace deal is implemented.

Local government representatives will no longer work at Riga and Ventspils freeport

Following the coming into force of amendments to the Law on Ports, representatives of Riga City Council and Ventspils City Council will lose their respective posts in the board of Riga Freeport and Ventspils Freeport, the law states.

Total tax debts in Latvia at December’s beginning – EUR 869.4 million

At the beginning of December, total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding, halted and extended debts, were equal to EUR 869.367 million, which is 1.9% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

In UK’s Brexit election, Conservatives win comfortable majority

In the British snap parliamentary election aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse, the ruling Conservative Party has won gaining a comfortable majority, according to close to complete results.

Riga City Council’s interim administration may be entrusted to VARAM state secretary Balševics

If the Saeima votes in favour of dismissing Riga City Council, the interim municipal administration may be entrusted to Environment Protection and Regional Ministry’s state secretary Edvīns Balševics, according to the ministry’s Riga City Council dismissal legislative draft to be decided on by the government on 17 December.

EU member states commit to 2050 carbon neutrality, Poland opts out

European Union’s 26 members, including the Baltic states, have supported the planned political course to considerably reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Coal-powered Poland said it could not reach the goal and opted out.

Latvia’s prime minister forms a work group to ensure Ventspils Freeport’s operations

On Thursday, 12 December, Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has issued an order on formation of a work group under Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in order to ensure undisrupted operations at Ventspils Freeport, as reported by the prime minister’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.

Ministry: to prevent damaging Latvian sports sector’s reputation, Lembergs should leave LOK

To avoid letting US sanctions negatively affect Latvian Olympic Committee and spread to the reputation of the country’s sports sector, the ministry can only ask Aivars Lembergs step down as member of LOK Executive Committee, BNN was told by Education and Science Ministry.

Budget Committee declines residents’ request to postpone increasing funding for parties

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has rejected a public initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents. This initiative requested postponing the planned increase of funding for political parties.

Lower election threshold in Lithuania – more democracy or chaos?

The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has lowered this week the parliamentary election threshold to 3 per cent for political parties and 5 per cent for coalitions.

Russia expels German diplomats, retaliating to German step over Berlin murder

Russia has asked two diplomats of the German Embassy to leave the country. This is a tit-for-tat measure after Germany declared two Russian diplomats personae non grata as Berlin investigates an international murder in the German capital, TASS reported.

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone to leave LTAB

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone will leave Latvian Transit Business Association managed by Aivars Lembergs, as both are subjected to US sanctions.

Lembergs’ influence over Ventspils Freeport needs to end, bank supervisors say

The goal of the US sanctions is reducing Aivars Lembergs’ economic and political influence over Ventspils Freeport and other companies under his control. Sanctions are not meant to paralyse companies, rather seeing how they are used to process deals influenced by the person under sanctions – Aivars Lembergs, said Finance and Capital Market Commission head Santa Purgaile during a press-conference on Thursday, 12 December.

USD 25 million offered in Weinstein sage to 30 alleged sexual abuse victims

In the U.S. movie industry scandal surrounding sexual abuse claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein his lawyers have offered a USD 25-million settlement to more than 30 women, The Guardian reports.

Legal Affairs Committee supports lifting judge immunity for administrative violation cases

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported prior to the second reading legislative drafts to the Law on Judicial Power and Law on Judges Disciplinary Liability intended to lift the immunity of judges in administrative violation cases, as confirmed by Justice Ministry.

Estonian-Finnish gas interconnection unveiled

Estonia and Finland have held ceremonies to unveil the gas pipeline Balticconnector, built to connect the gas transmission networks of both countries separated by the Baltic Sea.

Mārtiņš Kazāks officially becomes governor of the Bank of Latvia

On Thursday, 12 December, Latvia’s Saeima officially approved Mārtiņš Kazāks as the new governor of the Bank of Latvia, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

What is Ventspils Development Agency and what will its members do now?

Among the organizations against which US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control has adopted sanctions is also Ventspils Development Agency. In accordance with OFAC issued Global Magnitsky General Licence Nr.1, global partners have 30 days to cease all cooperation with this organization.

Israel on way to third parliamentary election in year

Israeli legislators have been unable to overcome a prolonged political crisis. The Knesset has given its initial approval to the third parliamentary election in the Middle Eastern country in a year’s time after legislators proved unable to form a majority coalition.

Social Integration Fund torn over NGO support priorities

Although sides of the Social Integration Fund have argued over priorities of the Non-Government Organizations Fund, the contest to start using funding allocated to NGOs may yet be announced this year, allows Social Integration Fund council member and Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s representative Imants Parādnieks.


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