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Ceturtdiena 20.02.2020 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

Week in Lithuania: police on hunt of a child’s kidnapper, 2020 conscription list announced, Belarus seeks Lithuania’s help

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Lithuania, Vilnius, police

In Lithuania, the top news stories last week were the police hunt of a child’s kidnapper, the announcement of the 2020 conscription list and Belarus seeking Lithuania’s help court.

Liberals’ proposal on MPs’ minimum age

The opposition Liberal Movement has proposed to amend the Constitution to lower the minimum age for standing as a candidate in Lithuania’s parliamentary election to 21 years.  The Constitution currently allows any Lithuanian citizen aged 25 years and over to run for a seat in the Seimas. Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the leader of the Liberal Movement’s political group in the Seimas, says young people become increasingly involved in politics, but are underrepresented in the parliament. The minimum age of candidacy is currently set at 18 years in 16 EU member states, the Liberal MP noted.

Court upholds 7-yr jail sentence for Russian spy

The Lithuanian Court of Appeal on Friday, January 17, upheld a seven-year prison sentence for a Lithuanian citizen convicted of spying for Russia. Klaipeda Regional Court handed down the jail sentence to Sesel last April for collecting information for Russia on NATO military ships, the oil product and LNG terminal operator Klaipėdos Nafta, and other infrastructure. Sesel did not admit to any of the charges during the trial at the lower court.

Minister, FIFA official discuss preparations for Futsal World Cup 2020

Lithuanian Education, Science and Sport Minister Algirdas Monkevičius and Jaime Yarza, Head of FIFA Tournaments, met in Vilnius on Friday, January 17, to discuss preparations for the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup. Lithuania will host the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup on September 12 through October 4, with arenas in Kaunas, Vilnius and Klaipeda chosen as the venues. Twenty-four teams from all continents have qualified for the final tournament.

President on Astravyets NPP as top issue

President Gitanas Nausėda has promised this week to continue raising the issue of the Astravyets nuclear power plant, under construction in Belarus, at the top level. In his words, the European Union and its leaders have to understand that it’s a pan-EU problem. In his words, constructive discussions are underway the Astravyets NPP with Poland, Latvia and Estonia.

Police want info regarding alleged kidnapping

Lithuanian police are looking for a man who could provide information on the alleged kidnap of a girl in Vilnius officers are investigating. The capital’s police received a report at around 7:14 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15, that a girl aged 11 or 12 years could have been forced into a silver or yellow car with foreign number plates in Sausio 13-osios Street.

President’s opinion on PM may change

President Gitanas Nausėda said on Thursday, January 16, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis bears full responsibility for Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič, adding that his attitude to the prime minister himself would depend on the ethics watchdog’s conclusions regarding the paving of a road close to the prime minister’s home.

Minister hails green energy auction’s result

-Lithuanian consumers will benefit after an investor that is not asking for state support has won the country’s first green energy auction, Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas said on Thursday, January 16. The National Energy Regulatory Council (VERT) announced Windfarm Akmenė One, a foreign-owned company that plans to build an 18-turbine wind farm with a total capacity of 90-101 megawatts (MW) in the northern district of Akmenė, as the winner of the country’s first technology-neutral auction on Thursday.

Belarus’ request for Lithuania

Lithuania’s oil terminal operator Klaipėdos Nafta says it has received a request from Belarus, locked in a row with Russia over oil supplies, to handle the neighbouring country’s crude imports. According to him, Klaipėdos Nafta is ready to handle crude oil from ships. The Lithuanian company says it can handle up to 3 million tons of oil for Belarus which imported around 18 million tons of crude from Russia last year.

Ministry publishes 2020 military conscription lists

The Defence Ministry published on Wednesday, January 15, this year’s mandatory military conscription lists. The lists contain over 38,000 names in total. Some 3,828 of them will be called up for a nine-month military service at various military units in Lithuania. The lists were compiled for the first time after the age range at which men are called up for mandatory military service was lowered to 18-23 years, from 19-26 previously.

Lithuania fears «shock therapy» if EU funding drops

Several Lithuanian ministers who met with President Gitanas Nausėda on Wednesday, January 15, say Lithuania’s budget will not avoid «shock therapy» and the country risks getting stuck in the middle income trap if EU cohesion funding drops. Under the EU multiannual budget bill for 2021-2027, cohesion funding, aimed at reducing gaps among EU members, would be cut by around 27 percent for Lithuania. EU leaders are set to gather for the next round of talks on the new budget in late February.

President proposes reform

President Gitanas Nausėda has proposed this week overhauling the country’s public procurement system by centralising the network of contracting authorities and simplifying lower-value procurement. The head of state is also suggesting that any disputes on procurement conditions be mandatorily considered by the Public Procurement Service under a pre-trial procedure, and social and environmental initiatives be promoted when considering public procurement.

Foreign Ministry seeks to blacklist Chinese woman

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, January 14, suggested putting a Chinese citizen on the persona non grata list after the woman vandalized crosses placed on the Hill of Crosses near the northern city of Siauliai in support of Hong Kong protesters. The Chinese woman posted a video on social media in which she picks a cross placed in support of Hong Kong protesters in a mocking manner and throws it away.

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Kristīne Misāne’s representatives say her extradition is temporarily halted

The extradition of Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne, who is accused of kidnapping her own child, to the South African Republic has been temporarily halted, as Delfi TV ar Jānis Domburs was told by the woman’s sister Mārīte Batraka.

Estonian wind farm land sold for EUR 51.4 million

In Estonia, the auction of a 160-hectare plot of land intended for the erection of wind turbines, has been won by Estonian energy giant Eesti Energia, which offered the price of 51.5 million euros, ERR reports.

Citskovskis: around 3 000 people have left state administration in Latvia in three years

Over the course of three years the number of people employed in Latvia’s state administration has reduced by 3 000 people, as reported by State Chancellery director Jānis Citskovskis at a meeting of Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, 19 February.

European Central Bank annuls PNB Bank’s license

The European Central Bank has made a decision to liquidate PNB Bank’s license, as confirmed by Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Number of births in Latvia has increased in January since last year

Over the past four years, birth number is declining, however during the year there are months when greater birth number is registered. Provisional data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia show that 1.6 thousand newborns were registered in January 2020, which is 5 % more than in the corresponding month a year ago.

133 jobs in welfare liquidated in Latvia last year

A total of 133 jobs were liquidated in Latvia’s welfare sector last year. This was done to reduce and optimize institutions and administration in this sector, as confirmed by Welfare Minister’s advisor Liesma Kalve.

Latvia needs almost 300 million euros to afford Rail Baltica

The funding Latvia needs to implement Rail Baltica project is EUR 297 620 500. This includes EUR 242 385 425 from the Connecting Europe Facility and EUR 55 235 075 from the state co-financing, as reported by Transport Ministry’s communication office.

Spanish government approves digital tax, but waits for OECD deal

As European Union member states seek to tax the profitable business of tech giants, Spanish government has passed a digital services tax, which could affect such US companies as Facebook and Google, according to The Guardian.

Estonian police finds potentially fatal substances added to illegal drugs

In Estonia, the police have informed the society about finding rat poison and washing powder in illegal drugs, ERR reports.

Kariņš: it is blatant we’ve had to wait for so long for a ruling in Maxima tragedy case

It is blatant that we have had to wait for more than six years between the Maxima tragedy and a ruling in the criminal case, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 19 February.

Latvian government takes over National Opera building

The government has decided to take over the Latvian National Opera and Ballet building and hand it over to Culture Ministry for management, as reported by the ministry’s representative Lita Kokale.

Ukraine warfare escalates; OSCE calls for restraint

In Eastern Ukraine, this week has been marked with a deadly battle between Ukrainian government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called on sides to adhere to agreed ceasefire, US news portal Radio Free Europe reports.

Rīgas satiksme new management’s stance on contract with Rīgas karte remains unclear

Municipal public transport company LLC Rīgas satiksme’s new board offers no clarity in relation to potentially terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as Saeima’s Public Expenditures and Audit Committee was told by RS board chairperson Džineta Innusa.

UK would not give visas to unskilled EU labour after Brexit

The British government has announced its immigration plan for the period after Brexit. It sets forth not issuing visas to unskilled labour from European countries, the BBC reports.

Attīstībai/Par! and Progressive party to run in Riga elections together

Party union Attīstībai/Par! and the Progressive party have decided to put together a shared list of candidates in the upcoming snap elections in Riga. Mārtiņš Staķis will be their mayoral candidate, as confirmed by Attīstībai/Par! representative Aleksis Zoldners.

Einars Repše becomes Baltic International Bank’s council head’s advisor

Latvia’s ex-prime minister and once the governor of the Bank of Latvia Einars Repše has become the advisor to Baltic International Bank’s council chairman Valērijs Belokoņs, as confirmed by the bank.

Prosecutor General’s Office requests Denmark to extradite Misāne to Latvia

The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia has sent a request to Danish authorities regarding the extradition of Kristīne Misāne to the country, as confirmed by the office’s press-secretary Laura Majevska.

In pictures: UK hit by heaviest winter floods of past years

The storm Dennis has heavy flooding to the United Kingdom as widespread rainfall came a week after the powerful storm Ciara, according to The Guardian.

FDP: economic growth may be slowed by multiple global and domestic risks

Latvia’s Fiscal Discipline Council agree on Finance Ministry’s analysis, expecting the strong effect from slowed economic growth to remain in 2020, the council says.

Estonia dismisses Beijing’s call to amend intelligence report unfavourable to China

Estonian diplomats have rejected a call by the Chinese Embassy in Tallinn to amend an annual security report by the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service pointing to growing influence of China in Estonia, ERR reports.

Latvian ex-state secretary has no plans to take disciplinary case to court

Economy Ministry’s state secretary Ēriks Eglītis, who was suspended from his post, has no plans at the moment to take the disciplinary case to court, as the man confirmed in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 18 February.

Multi-billionaire Bezos promises USD 10 billion to help tackle climate change

In the US, the founder of the e-commerce giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has pledged to allocate a funding of USD 10 billion for fighting climate change, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Latvia will continue fighting for fair financing in EU’s next multi-year budget

It is in Latvia’s interests to reach a timely agreement on the next European Union (EU) multi-year budget to help contribute to projects and secure uninterrupted investments in Latvia, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Land acquisition for Rail Baltica going slow in Estonia

As Estonia seeks a stretch of land across the country for the construction of the pan-Baltic railway Rail Baltica, only 32 plots of land have been acquired out of some 650 needed, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Construction engineer Sergets sentenced to six years in prison in Maxima tragedy case

On Tuesday, 18 February, Riga City Pārdaugava Court commenced reading the ruling in the so-called Maxima tragedy criminal case, sentencing construction engineer Ivars Sergets to six years in prison, as well as five year prohibition to work in his profession.

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