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Wednesday 29.01.2020 | Name days: Valērijs, Aivars

Week in Lithuania: PM in trouble over street paving, Ambassador in Ankara summoned, probes into match fixing

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Skvernelis, Lithuania, Lietuva, Turkey, Gitanas Nausėda

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis

Last week in Lithuania the top news stories were Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis being in hot water over street paving, Lithuanian Ambassador being summoned in Ankara and the opening of probes into fixed football matches.

Baltics, Poland convince Turkey not to block defence plan

Lithuania along with Latvia, Estonia and Poland convinced Turkey on Wednesday, December 4, not to block NATO’s updated defence plan for the region, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said. Ankara has been lately the only NATO ally to refused to sign NATO’s updated defence plan for the Baltic states and Poland until the Alliance agrees on a similar plan for Turkey. Turkey demands that Kurdish fighters in northern Syria be labelled as terrorist groups, despite them being appreciated in the West for their contribution to fighting the Islamic State.

Seimas committee backs raising corporate tax for banks

The Lithuanian parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance has backed the proposal to increase the corporate tax for banks from 15 to 20 per cent after six committee members voted in favour, one was against and one abstained. The proposal will now be considered by the Seimas. Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said, if the Seimas backs the tax increase to 20 per cent, the state budget would get around 20 million euros in additional revenue.

President vows to get back to dual citizenship issue

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has met with Lithuanians living in the United Kingdom and promised that the government will get back to the matter of preserving Lithuanian citizenship for Lithuanian emigrants who became citizens of other countries. Almost 74 per cent, or 956,500, of the people who voted in the May referendum in Lithuania were in favour of expanding dual citizenship. But at least 1 million and 236,300 voters, or over a half of all voters, were needed to back the proposed constitutional amendment.

Two probes into fixed football matches launched

Lithuania’s police said on Thursday, December 5, it had launched two pre-trial investigations into allegedly fixed matches after the Lithuanian Football Federation sanctioned Klaipeda’s Atlantas and Palanga’s Palanga football clubs. In total, 25 reports have been received from Sportradar, an agency providing federations and law enforcement agencies with a system for detecting betting related match fixing, on fixed matches this season.

Most notorious felon asks court for fixed-term prison sentence

The regional court in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas has on Thursday, December 5, heard the request of Henrikas Daktaras, perhaps the most ill-famed felon, sentenced to life imprisonment, for a fixed-term prison sentence, with the ruling due on December 11. All in all, Daktaras has spent 20 years and six months behind bars.

Government renounces banking asset tax

Lithuania’s government was leaning this week towards abandoning the planned banking asset tax and is proposing introducing an additional 7 per cent corporate tax for banks, bringing the total corporate tax for them to 22 per cent. The exemption would apply to the profit tax part below 2 million euros.

Lithuania asks EU commission to press Belarus

Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas has asked this week the new European Commission to press Belarus to carry out safety recommendations at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant before it is launched. Vaičiūnas discussed in detail the problems posed by the Astravyets plant with Kadri Simson, the new energy commissioner, during their meeting on Tuesday, December 3. The Lithuanian minister told his EU counterparts and the Commission that Belarus is taking efforts to speed up the plant’s construction, while at the same time procrastinating the stress testing process.

Lithuania will provide help to quake-stricken Albania

Lithuania will provide assistance to Albania which was struck by a strong earthquake last week. According to Deputy Government Chancellor Deividas Matulionis, the government will allocate financial support of up to 50,000 euros and will send two construction experts to the Balkan state.  Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Wednesday, December 4, expressed solidarity with the Balkan nation in a letter to his Albanian counterpart, Edi Rama.

Merging of three state research institutes discussed

The Lithuanian government said on Wednesday, December4, it is considering merging three state research institutes into one. The reorganisation would affect the Lithuanian Social Research Centre, the Law Institute of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics.

MP proposes removing Speaker from protected persons’ list

Agnė Širinskienė, a member of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) has proposed this week removing the speaker of the Seimas, Viktoras Pranckietis, from the list of persons under mandatory protection. Pranckietis called it retaliation for his refusal to step down as the speaker. This is what the LFGU has been demanding for the last half four months.

President calls on PM to turn to ethics watchdog

President Gitanas Nausėda on Tuesday, December 3, called on the country’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis to turn to the Chief Official Ethics Commission for it to look into the situation regarding the paving of a street close to the prime minister’s home. The Commission has already asked the government and other institutions for information on their decisions regarding the paving of the street Skvernelis lives on. Several weeks ago, the government endorsed the Transport Ministry’s proposal to allocate additional funding for asphalting roads in Vilnius District, and almost all of the additionally-allocated 300,000 euros for went towards paving the street where Skvernelis lives.

Turkey summons Lithuanian ambassador

The Lithuanian Ambassador to Turkey was summoned on Monday, December 2, to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a conversation on the conflict in the Ottoman Empire during World War I following Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda’s statement on Armenian genocide. But the ministry did not lodge a formal protest.

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Levits: search for a new location for VDD would delay project and create losses

If the government decides to look for a new location for the State Security Service’s new headquarters, it could delay construction by several years and create considerable financial losses, Latvian President Egils Levits told journalists on Wednesday, 29 January.

Estonian children start school with 49.5% missing some vaccines, study finds

In Estonia, 49.5% of first-graders are not fully vaccinated in the framework of a state vaccination programme, a study, cited by Estonian public broadcaster ERR, has found.

Four persons detained in criminal case on the laundering of 50 million euros

Four persons have been detained in the criminal process on the laundering of no less than EUR 50 million, as part of which searches were performed at ABLV Bank on Tuesday, 28 January, according to information from LETA.

SEB operating revenue in Estonia was EUR 173.5 million in 2019

The operating revenue of the Estonian branch of the Swedish SEB bank was 173.4 million euros in 2019, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Retail trade turnover in Latvia increases 2.3%

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Latvian State Police warn about encryption ransomware virus attacks

Latvian State Police periodically receive complaints from private and legal persons regarding different encryption ransomware virus attacks. Viruses of this kind encrypt files and hard disks, denying owners the use of their computers and information stored therein, police report.

Lithuania operations announced by US military firm NBC Security

An announcement of entering the Lithuanian market has been made by the American military and defence company NBC Security, which aims to open a manufacturing facility in the Baltic country.

Kariņš: coalition’s partner wants to combine all three special services in Latvia, but I won’t allow it

One of the ruling coalition’s partners wants to combine all three of Latvia’s special services, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to TV3 programme 900 seconds, on Wednesday, 29 January, adding he would be against such a proposal.

Estonian parliament to vote on divisive pension reform

In the Estonian parliament votes on pension reform are planned as the opposition has pledged to do its utmost to keep it from being passed amid concerns what effects the chance of withdrawing second pillar payments ne masse could have.

Six persons reportedly involved in case for laundering of 50 million euros

According to LETA, six people are involved in the criminal process regarding the laundering of illegally obtained funds of nearly EUR 50 million. As part of this criminal process, Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performed a search at ABLV Bank on Tuesday, 28 January.

International evacuations from China held as coronavirus infections exceed SARS

The European Union and other countries are organising the evacuation of their citizens from China, where the infection cases of the new coronavirus have exceeded the SARS outbreak.

One step closer towards changing prosecutor general replacement order

On Tuesday, 28 January, Latvian Saeima’s Defence, Internal affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee conceptually supported planned law amendments that provide for changing the order under which the country’s prosecutor general is replaced.

Trump offers new Middle East peace plan

US President Donald Trump has offered a new peace plan for the turbulent Middle East region. It envisages the recognition by the US of Israeli occupied territories and a map of territories for the establishment of a state of Palestine.

Government: climate and energy plan for 2030 is a step towards climate neutrality

The National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 (NEKP) supported by Latvian Cabinet of Ministers is an intermediate stage on the path towards accomplishment of climate neutrality in 2050, ministers admitted during a meeting on Tuesday, 28 January.

Latvian Economy Minister does not have plans to make taxes «green»

Currently there is no specific plan to use taxes to improve state goals in relation to climate neutrality in Latvia, said Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro at a press-conference after a government meeting on Tuesday, 28 January.

KNAB’s search at ABLV Bank related to laundering of 50 million euros

The search performed at ABLV Bank by Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on Tuesday, 28 January, is related to the laundering of at least EUR 50 million between 2015 and 2018, as reported by the office of the prosecutor.

Aviation giant Airbus concedes to corruption investigators in France, UK and US

World’s largest airplane maker, European multinational has agreed to potentially very expensive settlements with bribery investigators in France, the UK and the US.

Latvian government sets term for Riga and Ventspils port board members – five years

On Tuesday, 28 January, Latvian government adopted amendments to the by-laws of Riga and Ventspils port management boards, setting the term at five years for port board members.

Delna: Latvia is not doing well with corruption prevention

For years Latvia’s position has stagnated in the Global Anti-Corruption Coalition Transparency International composed Corruption Perception Index because our country is not doing well with corruption prevention, said Society for Openness Delna director Liene Gātere in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 28 January.

In Estonian choice of child names, Western European names replace Russian ones

In Estonia, the lists of most popular child names in 2019 have shown changes in trends compared to the year 1989 as the popularity of Russian language names has lost ground to names associated with German and English-inspired ones.

Corruption watchdog performs search at liquidated ABLV Bank

On Tuesday, 28 January, Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performed investigative activities at the liquidated ABLV Bank.

Ķirsis: the current Riga City Council should not be the ones to decide on 2020 budget

Considering to the shadow of corruption looming over the current composition of Riga City Council and their failures, they should not be the ones to approve the municipality’s budget for 2020, said opposition deputy Vilnis Ķirsis in an interview to TV3 programme 900 seconds.

Nausėda in Auschwitz: «We must identify the hate-inciting forces»

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious death camp, where pointed to the need to « identify the hate-inciting forces», who can lead to devastating consequences.

Olainfarm: Olmafarm misleads society about alleged shareholder meeting

By reporting information about the shareholder meeting that allegedly took place Friday, 24 January, medicines manufacturer Olainfarm’s largest shareholder LLC Olmafarm council and board mislead society and ignore the ruling of the court, Olainfarm representatives say.

U.S. military plane crashes in Afghanistan

In eastern Afghanistan, a U.S. military plane has crashed. U.S. forces in the country and NATO alliance have not provided details on possible casualties and the cause of the crash.

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