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Monday 19.08.2019 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta

Week in Lithuania. PM Saulius Skvernelis announces his presidential bid

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Thursday, January 17, on his visit to Rusnė in southwestern Lithuania announced his decision to run for president in May. Skvernelis is due to receive formal backing of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) next week.

Skvernelis, 48, has been leading the Lithuanian government since December, 2016, after previously serving as interior minister and police commissioner general. Public polls show economist Gitanas Nauseda, an independent presidential candidate, and former Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, representing the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, will be Skvernelis’ key rivals. On Thursday, Skvernelis called the two «successors appointed» by President Dalia Grybauskaite. Lithuania will hold the first round of voting in the presidential election on May 12, and the run-off, if necessary, will take place on May 26. Skvernelis said he will take a leave for the election campaign and has no plans to resign.

Government calls on expats in UK to return amid Brexit concerns

The Lithuanian government is calling on Lithuanians living in Britain to come back home amid mounting concerns over a no-deal Brexit. «I don’t want our discussions to be taken as a message that we fear a bigger flow…All people who decide to return to Lithuania, whether there are 100,000 or 200,000 of them, all welcome and we are ready» PM Saulius Skvernelis said at the Cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday, January 16. The number of Lithuanian returnees from the United Kingdom jumped by one-third in 2018 compared with 2017 to 7,600 people, according to official statistics.  Some 12,000 people last year left Lithuania to live in the UK, down from more than 21,000 who did so in 2017.

Lithuania allocates 130,000 euro to CIA prisoner

The Lithuanian government has transferred to a depository account 130,000 euros which the European Court of Human Rights ordered Lithuania to pay to a Saudi Arabian citizen in compensation for arbitrary detention at a secret American prison in Lithuania. Carrying out a pre-trial investigation, Lithuania’s law enforcement has also re-qualified the alleged crime to avoid a statute of limitations, and turned to the United States, asking for diplomatic assurances, Lithuania’s Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius said on Wednesday, January 16. Lithuania has made these steps to implement the Strasbourg court’s ruling. The ECHR ruled last year that Abu Zubaydah, currently at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, was imprisoned in a secret CIA prison in Lithuania in 2005-2006.

Lithuania’s LFGU accepts questionable donations

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union has received the maximum allowed donations from natural persons who are interlinked through companies involved in the handling and transportation of Belarusian fertilizers, a probe by Lithuania’s national broadcaster LRT has revealed. The LRT Investigation Department’ probe shows the party led by Ramūnas Karbauskis has already collected 174,000 euros in donations for its election campaign. 130,000 euros out of it is the party’s own money, and the remaining 44,000 euros have been donated by persons interlinked through their business ties and involved in the handling and transportation of Belarusian fertilizers. Karbauskis told the LRT the names of the donors are not familiar to him, adding that the party does not choose donors, and everyone can donate.

EP gives more money for Ignalina NPP decommissioning

The European Parliament on Thursday, January 17, backed Lithuania’s request to allocate 780 million euros from the European Union new budget for the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant. The European Commission previously suggested allocating 552 million euros. Member states are due to decide on the new budget only next year. On Thursday, 569 European lawmakers voted in favour of the proposal to allocate 780 million euros, 17 were against and 32 abstained.

Prosecutors complete probe into Snoras bank

Lithuanian prosecutors completed on Thursday, January 17, their pre-trial investigation in a case in which two former managers and shareholders of Lithuania’s bankrupt bank Snoras are suspected of large-scale misappropriation of assets. Raimondas Baranauskas and Vladimir Antonov are also suspected of large-scale embezzlement, criminal bankruptcy and asset laundering, the Prosecutor General’s Office said. Baranauskas and Antonov are to be tried in absentia as they are hiding in Russia, which has granted them asylum and refuses to provide legal assistance to Lithuania.

Kubilius presented as candidate for CoE Secretary General

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius presented on Wednesday, January 16, Andrius Kubilius to foreign ambassadors residing in Lithuania as the country’s candidate for the position of the Council of Europe’s secretary general. Other contenders for the post are Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, former Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric.

PM urges Poland to talk about pork imports

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis urged Warsaw on Wednesday, January 16, to talk to Vilnius about its restrictions on Lithuanian pork imports, saying silence will not help solve the problems. Poland last month banned pig meat and pig imports from Lithuania’s zone two, where the disease is present in the wild boar population. The zone covers most of the country’s territory. The two countries’ agriculture ministers were expected to meet in Berlin on Friday, January 18. A final decision on lifting the ban is to be made by the Polish agriculture minister.

Lithuania publishes 2019 military conscription lists

The Lithuanian Armed Forces published this year’s military conscription lists on Wednesday, January 16. The lists, available online at, include the names of 31,068 men aged between 19 and 26 years.  Some 3,827 of them will be called up for a nine-month military service in more than 20 military units. A part of them will undergo two months of basic training at the Lithuanian Great Hetman Jonušas Radvila Training Regiment in Rukla before being sent to their designated units. Young men aged between 18 and 38 years who are not on the lists and women of this age range can volunteer for enlistment. Lithuania reintroduced military conscription in 2015 in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the Baltic Sea region.

Government extends integration period

The government decided on Wednesday, January 16, to extend to five years, from the current three years, the integration period for socially vulnerable Lithuanians and their family members relocated to Lithuania from Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Currently, relocated people with the status of vulnerable persons lose the right to social protection for two years after the three-year period expires, because other legal acts grant this right only to holders of long-term residence permits issued in the European Union.  A foreigner must live in Lithuania for at least five years to be eligible for such a permit. A total of 157 people have moved to Lithuania from crisis-affected regions of Ukraine since 2015.

Business tycoon passes away

Saulius Karosas, 60, an A-tier Lithuanian businessman and the key shareholder of Medicinos Bankas, passed away on Tuesday night, succumbing to cancer. Karosas was also involved in the transportation of energy resources all over the world. Medicinos Bankas was his main business in Lithuania as he owned 89.91 per cent of the bank, with 9.87 per cent belonging to Western Petroleum, a company established by the late businessman. Karosas was born in Lithuania’s second largest city of Kaunas and up until now resided in Switzerland.

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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

Independent Deputies Faction joins forces with Honour to Serve Riga

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction has signed a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga political party, pledging support for the party’s mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs, as LETA was told by the faction’s leader Valērijs Petrovs on Monday, 18 August.

Saeima’s MPC investigation committee requests information on every issued license

The parliamentary committee formed to investigate the mandatory procurement component has requested access to information regarding every issued MPC license and decision made by officials in regards to this field, says the committee’s representative Ilze Vanaga.

Latvian athlete receives two-year disqualification

Former Latvian long jumper Ineta Radeviča has received a two-year disqualification, as confirmed by International Association of Athletics Federation’s Athletics Integrity Unit.

Minister: state budget funds will not be used to compensate PNB Bank’s clients

The Deposit Guarantee Fund is sufficient to pay compensations to affected PNB Bank clients. This means not a cent from Latvia’s state budget will be used, said Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs in a telephone conversation with public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 16 August.

Estonia to invest 22 million in construction of a new TV house

Estonian government has set aside EUR 22 million for the construction of a new public television building, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Another one falls – Latvian FCMC halts PNB Bank’s operations

Operations of PNB Bank [formerly Norvik Banka] have been halted in Latvia, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Unemployment index in Latvia drops – rate down to 6.4% in Q2

In Q2 2019 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 6.4 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, and compared to the rate recorded a year ago, it dropped by 1.3 percentage points.

64.7% of Latvia’s population reportedly employed in Q2 2019

905.6 thousand people or 64.7 % of Latvia’s population aged 15–74 were employed in Q2 2019.

Lithuanian Conservatives’ tensions: can the party split?

The Conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) have risen to unseen heights lately – although in the opposition now, in 2016 parliamentary election the party racked up a record support in its 30 years’ history.

Minister: Latvia’s social budget surplus has reached one billion

The surplus of the state social budget has come close of the pre-crisis level – EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 15 August.

Riga City Council permitted to elect mayor after two-month deadline

In spite of the fact that 21 August will mark two months of Riga City Council working without a mayor, a condition that permits Latvia’s Saeima to dismiss the entire city council, deputies of the municipality will nonetheless have the right to elect a mayor after the deadline, says Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce’s advisor for legal affairs Valdis Verners.

Lithuanian president unhappy with Latvia’s decision to purchase energy from Belarus

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has voiced sadness over Latvia’s decision to purchase electrical energy produced at Astravets nuclear power plant in Belarus not far from the Lithuanian border. He admits, however, that this decision was not unexpected for him.

State Real Estate claims ReRe Būve 1 may be trying to circumvent the law

Construction company Rere Būve 1 publicly voices desire to continue implementing the construction contract. However, the construction company’s submitted work schedule for reconstruction of New Riga Theatre has everything changed – volume of work, terms and budget, Latvian State Real Estate reports.

Lithuanian mountaineer dies climbing French Alps

Lithuanian 38-year-old mountaineer Vytautas Mažeika died in a 50 m fall in the French Alps, Lithuanian public media LRT reports with reference to

Estonia decides to reform pension system; increase not promised

Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Estonian coalition party Isamaa, has confirmed that the government has agreed on his proposed pension reform, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Ruling party in Lithuania promises national agreement for education affairs

While more and more small town schools close down in Lithuania, the leader of the ruling party promises a «national agreement» for education affairs, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Viesturs Zeps’ has yet to convince NCP and Unity to support him as mayoral candidate

Mayoral candidate in Riga Viesturs Zeps still has not convinced New Conservative Party and Unity to support him, according to what he said in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 15 August.