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Wednesday 26.09.2018 | Name days: Kurts, Knuts, Gundars
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Week in Lithuania. President pledges not to publicly support any presidential hopefuls

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Lituania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite

President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday, September 6, that she will not publicly support any candidate in the presidential election next May.

Lithuania’s former diplomat and foreign minister Vygaudas Ušackas, MPs Žygimantas Pavilionis, Aušra Maldeikienė and Naglis Puteikis, and MEP Valentinas Mazuronis have already announced the participation. Gitanas Nausėda, an economist who has recently announced his resignation as advisor to SEN Bankas’ president, and Arvydas Juozaitis, a philosopher and one of the initiators of the Lithuanian reform movement Sąjūdis, have said they are considering running for the post.

PM addresses CIA prison probe

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said Thursday, September 6, that law-enforcement officials must use all possibilities to investigate the circumstances surrounding allegations that the country hosted a secret CIA detention site more than a decade ago.

The government several days ago appealed the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that a Saudi Arabia-born Palestinian was unlawfully interrogated at a secret CIA detention site in Lithuania more than a decade ago. The ECHR ruled in late May that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA prison for terror suspects between 2005 and 2006, ordering the country to pay 130,000 euros in damages to Abu Zubaydah over his alleged unlawful imprisonment in Lithuania.

Lithuania cuts extra spending on papal visit

The maximum amount of the state’s additional spending on organising Pope Francis’ visit to Lithuania later this month goes down from 1.75 million euros to 1.45 million euros, Government Vice-Chancellor Alminas Mačiulis said on Tuesday, September 4. Most of the money will likely go to the Roman Catholic Church of Lithuania via the Foreign Ministry. Additional funding will also be provided to the VIP Protection Department, local authorities in Vilnius and Kaunas, and the Health Ministry. Francis is scheduled to visit Lithuania on September 22 through 23 on the first leg of his tour of three Baltic countries

Another Israeli payment company picks Lithuania

Israel’s payment solutions provider Wittix has set up a subsidiary company in Lithuania. According to information from the Lithuanian Center of Registers, the subsidiarity was registered in late August with Hanan Assis, Wittix’s owner and CTO, as its only shareholder. The new company has an authorised share capital of 350,000 euros. The central bank says that it currently supervises 42 payment institutions and 40 electronic money institutions.

Government’s plan on retail grocery market

The Lithuanian government has worked out a plan of measures to end the alleged domination of large chains in the retail market, and ultimately give a boost to small businesses, Delfi.lt reported on Thursday, September 6. The proposal calls for introducing a state monopoly on alcohol sales, opening state-owned pharmacies at health care institutions and eliminating fees for sellers at state-owned marketplaces in exchange for lower prices. The proposed measures also include penalties for excessive concentration, and state aid to small and medium-sized businesses.

Lithuania furious about Walmart

Lithuania’s ambassador to the United States has called on America’s retail giant Walmart to remove T-shirts with Soviet symbols from sale. In his letter posted on Facebook on Wednesday, September 5, Rolandas Kriščiūnas said that «hundreds of thousands of our citizens were killed, exiled, tortured, raped, separated from their families» after the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania. Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 to 1941 and in 1944 to 1990.

Lithuanian PM named Man of Year 2017

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis was on Wednesday named Man of the Year 2017 in the Krynica Economic Forum in Poland. Skvernelis was awarded for reviving relations between Lithuania and Poland and for close cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.

The forum’s organisers emphasised joint energy and transport projects as they presented the award. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called Skvernelis «a good friend», saying that they were keeping in touch with each other. The Krynica forum, sometimes referred to as the «Eastern Davos», is an annual meeting of Central and Eastern European economic and political elite held in early September since 1992.

Lithuania’s official resigns over poor English

Edmundas Vaitekūnas stepped down as chairman of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK), saying that his English is not good enough for the post. Vaitekūnas confirmed that he had handed in his resignation to the commission and forwarded it to Ramūnas Karbauskis, chairman of the parliament’s Committee on Culture.

Transport minister angry at Latvia

Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis says that Latvians’ demand that Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) pay them over 82 million euros for the dismantling of a railway track to Renge a decade ago came as a surprise to him and more: it was «a stab in the back», according to him.

LG said on Monday, September 3, that it had received a claim from Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railways) for 57 million euros in compensation for lost profits due to the dismantling of the track. However on Tuesday LDz Cargo, a subsidiary of the Latvian company, announced its demand for another 25.4 million euros. The European Commission last year imposed a fine of 27.87 million euros on LG for hindering competition in the rail freight market by dismantling the Renge track in 2008. The Lithuanian state railway company paid the fine in early January after filing an appeal to the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg against the Commission last December.

Lithuanian biochemist receives Kavli Prize

Professor Virginijus Šikšnys of Vilnius University received a prestigious award, the Kavli Prize, for the discovery of a revolutionary tool for DNA editing at a ceremony is Oslo on Tuesday, September 4. The Lithuanian biochemist will share the 1-million-dollar Kavli prize in Nanoscience with two scientists from Germany and the US. The awards ceremony was attended by Lithuanian Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė.

Customs seize haul of contraband cigarettes

Lithuanian customs officers have found around 400 boxes with Belarusian-made contraband cigarettes, worth around 620,000 euros, hidden in a shipment of wood pellets on a train from the neighbouring country. This is the third large haul of smuggled cigarettes seized in Lithuania over the past two weeks the Customs Criminal Service said on Monday, September 3. It put the total value of the seized cigarettes at nearly 3 million euros.

Breakaway SocDems to get state subsidy

The Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs approved on Wednesday, September 5, a draft law paving the way for the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP) to get a state subsidy. The Seimas is expected to discuss the draft law next week. If the bill is passed, Gediminas Kirkilas’ LSDLP will receive nearly 300,000 euros annually, while Gintautas Paluckas’ Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) will lose almost 400,000 euros per year. The LSDLP was founded earlier this year by Kirkilas and other former LSDP members, who split from the party last year.

Seimas speaker expects deal with Order and Justice

A cooperation agreement between the Order and Justice political group in the Seimas and lawmakers from the ruling bloc will help ensure a stable majority in the parliament in voting on major issues, the speaker of the Seimas said on Tuesday, September 4. The Order and Justice has put forward a list of 15 measures that the Seimas should adopt by the end of its current tenure.


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Latvian government to expand Money Laundering Prevention Service’s capacity

On Tuesday, 25 September, Latvian government reached an agreement on the need to reorganize the supervision Cabinet of Ministers has over Money Laundering Prevention Service. At the same time, members of the government also agreed to expand the service’s capacity, Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola told journalists.

New natural gas tariffs approved in Latvia; those who use more gas will pay less

The Public Utilities Commission has approved AS Gaso’s submitted natural gas transmission system’s tariff project, which provides for the introduction of a fixed fee for connection to permitted load regardless of the consumed gas volume.

OCMA: majority of Latvian immigrants live in Britain, Ireland and Germany

The Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs has calculated the exact number of Latvian citizens living abroad. The majority of Latvians reside in Britain, followed by Ireland, Germany , and USA, according to the data compiled in July 2018.

Sweden's head of government Löfven loses no-confidence vote

The head of Swedish government, Stefan Löfven has not received the support of parliamentary majority despite his left-wing block narrowly winning the parliamentary election earlier in the month.

CC: number of business merges on a rise in Latvia

In the first eight months of 2018, Competition Council made twelve decisions regarding business merges, which is 50% more than the number of similar decisions made in the same period of last year. Consolidation of market participants takes place the most often in retail trade of household goods, BNN was informed by the council.

EU supervisor to investigate Estonian and Danish banking authorities on Danske Bank

The banking supervisory authority of the European Union has been asked to investigate the work of Denmark and Estonia’s national banking watchdogs over possible shortcomings in failing to prevent money laundering through the Estonia branch of Danske Bank.

airBaltic receives its 12th Airbus A220-300 aircraft

Latvian airBaltic airline has received its twelfth Airbus A220-300 aircraft with registration number YL-CSN. The airline plans to have a total of fourteen Airbus A220-300 aircraft by the end of 2018.

In pictures: Pope Francis arrives in Tallinn

The head of the Roman Catholic church has been welcomed in Tallinn as he begins the last leg of the papal visit to the Baltic states devoted to their centenary.

Meteorologists say first autumn storm in Latvia to take place this week

On Tuesday, 25 September, atmospheric pressure in Latvia will increase and clouds will tend to reduce in the afternoon, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Germany's largest bank required to improve fight against money laundering

The financial watchdog of Germany has called on Deutsche Bank to improve its measures against legalisation of dirty money.

Nearly 20,000 Latvians were living in Ireland in spring 2016

19,933 Latvian citizens were living in Ireland in spring 2016, according to census data from Ireland’s Central Statistical Bureau on the number of foreigners living in the country.

Russian protest leader Navalny detained right after previous detention

Alexei Navalny, a supporter of current protests in Russia against pension reform, has been released from administrative arrest, but arrested again on the same day to be kept in administrative arrest for another 20 days on charges of holding an illegal protest.

CPB: Russian special services remain highly interested about Latvia

Russian special services remain highly interested about Latvia’s internal politics. This includes 13th Saeima elections and their possible results. However, there is currently no information to suggest the election process could be influenced from the outside, admits Constitution Protection Bureau.

PHOTO: Pope Francis visits Riga Cathedral and meets seniors at St Jacob’s Cathedral

Pope Francis visited both Riga Castle and Riga Cathedral, where a service was held under his supervision. There he met with different Latvian officials. After that, the pope met with senior citizens at St Jacob’s cathedral.

Pope Francis arrives in Latvia for an official visit

Pope Francis arrived in Latvia on Monday, 24 September. He was greeted at the airport by President Raimonds Vējonis, Archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevičs and other public figures.

Week in Lithuania. President proposes amendments to restrict bailiffs' remuneration

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is putting forward amendments aimed at restricting bailiffs' financial remuneration to up to 15 per cent of the amount recovered.

BNN summary of the week: pre-election heat, rule of law in Latvia, Baltics prepare for Pope’s visit

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Elections; Change; Stagnation; Fight; Visit; Investigation.

Court reschedules viewing of criminal case due to Non-citizens Congress leader’s poor health

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court announced today that the viewing of the criminal case in which leader of Non-citizens Congress Aleksandrs Gapoņenko is accused of inciting national hate will be postponed to a later date.

Producer prices in industry up 1.0% in Latvia in August

Compared to July, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 1.0 % in August 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.9 %, but of exported products – went up by 0.1 %.

Bishop: priest suspected of sexual abuse to be operated on in hospital

Pāvels Zeiļa, who is a priest of Rezekne Aglona diocese and the suspect in the criminal case regarding sexual violence and human trafficking, will undergo a complicated surgery on Friday, 21 September, as reported by Bishop Jānis Bulis.

Study: residents withdraw money from ATMs less often but in larger amounts

Every now and then discussions about dropping cash money altogether become active in society, AS PrivatBank representatives say.

HND Grupa design company, involved in Zolitude tragery, declared insolvent

Building engineer Ivars Sergets company HND Grupa, which was involved in the case revolving around the Maxima supermarket that collapsed in Zolitude, killing 54, not five years ago, has been declared insolvent, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service suspected of misappropriation

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry’s Internal Security Bureau has detained deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Ints Sēlis and one other official – a senior inspector, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

Washington sanctions China for buying Russian military equipment

U.S. government has introduces sanctions against the Chinese army over a purchase of fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, despite a U.S. sanctions law targeting Moscow for attempts to sway in the 2016 U.S. election.

Autumn expected to begin soon in Latvia

Friday, 21 September, is expected to be warm in Latvia. Sun and considerable amount of clouds are expected, but not precipitation. Wind will draw in from the south, reaching a speed of 15-17 m/sec in western and central regions, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.