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Friday 03.04.2020 | Name days: Daira, Dairis
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Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda (L)

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

PM underwent surgery on 1st day of leave

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said he underwent a surgery on Monday, August 12, the first day of his vacation, but gave no details apart from noting that the procedure was successful. Tomas Beržinskas, the prime minister’s spokesman, gave no further information to media, citing the privacy of Skvernelis and his family. The prime minister underwent a vision correction procedure in late October 2018. Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka is standing in for the prime minister while he is on vacation.

President rejects government’s nominee for EU judge

President Gitanas Nausėda has rejected the government’s proposal to re-appoint Virgilijus Valančius for another term as judge at the EU General Court. The government nominated Valančius for the position on July 31, but the candidature was not endorsed by the president. It is rumoured judge Danutė Jocienė of the Lithuanian Constitutional Court was Valančius’ most serious challenger for the nomination.

President calls Latvia’s decision to buy Astravyets electricity ‘regrettable’

President Gitanas Nausėda says Latvia’s decision to buy electricity generated by Belarus’ Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), under construction close to the Lithuanian border, is «regrettable» but «not very surprising». According to Nausėda, the Latvian government decided to purchase Belarusian electricity without completing consultations with the Lithuanian Energy Ministry. The Latvian government said earlier on Wednesday, August 14, that it will purchase electricity directly from Belarus after Lithuania starts blocking power energy imports from the neighbouring country.

MP Rozova denied access to classified info 2 years ago

MP Irina Rozova has confirmed that she was denied access to classified information two years ago. Ro Earlier on Wednesday, August 14, the Seimas’ Committee on National Security and Defence (NSGK) discussed Rozova’s participation in an event of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) that sparked protests in Georgia in June. Vaidotas Mažeika, deputy director of Lithuania’s State Security Department (VSD), said that the participation in the assembly was «a risk factor».

Lithuania-based Spanish jet was unsafely approached by Russian fighter

NATO said on Tuesday, August 13, a Spanish fighter jet scrambled from Lithuania’s Siauliai air base was approached  «in an unsafe manner» by a Russian fighter-jet escorting Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s plane.  Russian media reported that Russian fighter-jets forced Spain’s F-18 jets away when the NATO aircraft approached the Russian military passenger plane carrying Shoigu. The Alliance confirmed that the incident occurred when a TU-214 aircraft and two fighter-jets were tracked over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, August 15.

President Nausėda and German chancellor Merkel meet in Berlin

President Gitanas Nausėda met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday, August 14, and discussed the European agenda and security issues. Nausėda conversed with Merkel in German during their first get-to-know meeting. Nausėda met German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday, August 15. This is the Lithuanian president’s third foreign visit after he assumed his position a month ago. Earlier, Nausėda paid visits to neighbouring Poland and Latvia.

Outgoing minister sees no chance for Vaitkus

Outgoing Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis sees no possibility for Arvydas Vaitkus, the former chief executive officer of the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority, to return to head any strategic state enterprise.  Vaitkus, who managed the port of Klaipeda since 2013, was dismissed from the port of Klaipeda in March after Masiulis raised doubts whether Vaitkus could be impartial towards companies which backed him during the municipal and mayoral elections.

Companies have not breached EU’s Russia sanctions

Lithuanian’s Prosecutor General’s Office said on Tuesday, August 13, that Hanner, one of the largest real estate development companies in Lithuania, Panevėžys-based company Pluošto Linija, as well as Raimondas Tumėnas’ BTInvest have not violated the European Unions’ anti-Russian sanctions, thence the investigation has to be dropped. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, none of the companies has imported into the EU goods of Crimea or Sevastopol origin.

 MPs’ initiative on corruption-suspected judges

MP Vytautas Bakas has registered this week a parliamentary initiative to launch impeachment proceedings against judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, suspected of corruption. In total 37 lawmakers suggest launching the impeachment process against Egidijus Laužikas of the Supreme Court, and also Vladimaras Bavejanas, Viktoras Kazys and Konstantinas Gurinas of the Court of Appeal.

Lithuania rejects Belarus’ reproach

Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially informed Belarus that a Belarusian company was removed from a Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) construction tender because it did not meet the national security requirements. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius confirmed on Tuesday, August 13, the fact that Lithuania handed in a diplomatic note to Belarus, rejecting its reproaches.

Court halts ESO’s EUR 150 mn smart meter tender

A court in Lithuania has temporarily halted a tender valued at around 150 million euros and called by power and gas distribution operator Energijos Skirstymo Operatorius (Energy Distribution Operator, or ESO) for the purchase of smart electricity meters and the system’s IT solutions.

Šiaulių Bankas gears up for major changes

Lithuania’s Šiaulių Bankas’ recent announcement about possible strategic changes shows that the bank’s board is serious about changes, market participants believe. Šiaulių Bankas had announced its plans to look for a strategic activity direction, including the bank’s possible sale or merger. A review of alternatives for the bank will be produced by Wood & Co and Superia Corporate Finance. Some analysts said earlier Polish banks might be interested in acquiring Šiaulių Bankas. EBRD invested into Šiaulių Bankas in 2005 when it bought a 16.1 per cent stake for 5.8 million euros.

Ex-Lithuanian basketball player on trial

Former Lithuanian basketball player Rolandas Alijevas stood in the court stand this week for illegally accessing his ex-wife’s social media and email accounts. In early August, 2018, Alijevas used his former wife’s passwords to access her Facebook account and, later on, her email, without her knowledge or consent. Alijevas and Goda Alijeva divorced in July, 2018.


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COVID-19 prompts Latvian government to involve army in border patrol with Belarus

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks has issued an order for Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) to provide support to the State Border Guard by sending national guardsmen to organize additional patrolling of the Latvian-Belarusian border, as confirmed by the minister.

Lithuania puts COVID-19-related prosecution above human rights

What should come first in a time of emergency like the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Obviously, order, but what about human rights?

Idleness rules will apply to companies with tax debts in Latvia

The idleness regulations in Latvia will apply to companies with tax debts, as provided by amendments to Latvian government rules approved on Thursday, 2 April, to rules on companies affected by COVID-19 and who qualify for idleness support and other benefits.

Court to enforce nearly 12 000 euros from Gobzems for defaming Bunkus family

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has partially satisfied the plea from the surviving members of the family of the murdered lawyer Mārtiņš Bunkus against Saeima deputy Aldis Gobzems over defamation. The court has decided to enforce EUR 11 833 from him, as confirmed from the deputy.

Spain registers unprecedented job loss as lethal cases of COVID-19 exceed 10 000

In Spain, nearly 900,000 jobs have been lost since mid-March during strict measures to fight the coronavirus. 10,000 Spaniards have died from the virus disease, BBC reports.

Emīls Jakrins becomes board chairman of restaurant business company Vincents

Ex-Riga City Council’s Transport Department’s head Emīls Jakrins has become board chairman of architecture, design and restaurant business company LLC Vincents, according to information from Firmas.lv.

Jānis Vitenbergs approved in Latvia’s Economy Minister's post

On Thursday, 2 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved parliamentarian Jānis Vitenbergs as the country’s economy minister.

Large mine closes in Estonia after one of 800 miners tested positive for COVID-19

In Estonia, it has been decided to close one of two large oil shale mines after one miner tested positive for COVID-19, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 458 cases in Latvia, 649 in Lithuania, 858 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 458, growing by 12 cases in the past day. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 649 confirmed coronavirus infection cases.

Germany to keep gathering restrictions past Easter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany is far from being over as the government extended its strict rules for gathering in public places until April 19, DW reports.

Shuttle buses and express buses on hold in Riga

LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has decided to shut down shuttle bus services on all routes in Riga until the state of emergency in Latvia is over, as confirmed by RMS.

Latvian government to finance COVID-19 crisis prevention efforts from state budget

Efforts to overcome the direct negative effects from COVID-10 crisis will be financed from the state budget. After the crisis, however, the economy will be stimulated using EU funds, as decided by Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ led work group for support of entrepreneurship and the employed on Wednesday, 1 April.

EU planning lending programme to support temporary work schemes

EU member states would guarantee the creation of a fund up to 100 billion euros aimed at providing loans to governments to support workers in countries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission plans, according to EurActiv.

Minister: repatriation efforts may be restarted mid-April

Repatriation efforts may be restarted in the middle of April, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits on 1 April at a conference of Latvian municipalities on public transport and traffic during a state of emergency.

Saeima committee supports writing off debts left from 2008 crisis

On Wednesday, 1 April, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported during a remote meeting the proposal to allow credit institutions to one-sidedly write off debts for mortgage loans taken prior to the 2008 economic crisis, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Belarus introduces ban on buckwheat exports

Belarusian government has prohibited temporarily the export of buckwheat and other staple foods, state news agency BelTA reported.

Moscow tests app for tracking infected people required to self-isolate

In Moscow, where a lockdown has been in place since the beginning of the week, a new smartphone app is being developed and tested aimed at ensuring that patients with mild symptoms adhere to their contract of self-isolation, Russian state news agency TASS reports.

Multiple of Nature Protection Office’s duties delegated to the State Environment Service

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry issued an order on 30 March to delegate multiple duties of the Nature Protection Office to the State Environment Service, according to information from LETA.

Latvian State Employment Agency received notifications for numerous planned lay-offs

Latvia’s State Employment Agency has received notification about planned lay-offs of 3 258 employees of 19 companies.

1 April onward entry to Jurmala by car will not be allowed without paying 2 euro fee

Wednesday, 1 April, marks the beginning of the the season when entry to Jurmala by car will require a 2 euro fee, as reported by Jurmala City Council.

Estonia looking at mass tests’ option to determine latency of COVID-19

The Estonian government has set itself the goal of mass tests of COVID-19 in the society, its Foreign Minister has revealed as the worst-hit Baltic country is looking at ways to overcome the outbreak, Estonian public broadcaster reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltic. 446 in Latvia, 581 in Lithuania, 779 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 446. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 581 cases.

Countries rush to support production of lung ventilators, essential amid pandemic

Governments and medical institutions in the world seek to acquire many lung ventilators that can save lives in severe cases of the COVID-19 disease. France and Israel have made recent announcements in this respect, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Public catering companies to adopt new hygiene requirements as of 1 April

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has expanded requirements for public catering and retail trade companies, BNN was told by the ministry.

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia confirmed infected with COVID-19

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia have been infected with COVID-19, according to information reported by the Disease Prevention and Monitoring Centre expert Jurijs Perevoščikovs.


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