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Tuesday 18.02.2020 | Name days: Kintija, Kora

Week in Lithuania: President vetoes election bill, troops’ foreign missions approved, large stadium contract green-lit

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 Week in Lithuania Lietuvos Geležinkeliai Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Gitanas Nausėda Kremlin

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda

Last week, in Lithuania, the key news stories were the President vetoing the election bill, the approval to international missions of Lithuanian soldiers and Vilnius rejecting a pro-Kremlin concert proposal.

Ministry allows signing railway electrification contract with Spain’s Elecnor

Lithuanian Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič said on Thursday, December 19, he had allowed the state-run railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) to sign a contract, worth 363 million euros, for the electrification of the Vilnius railway hub and the Kaišiadorys-Klaipėda railway, with Spanish company Elecnor. In his words, the persons responsible for an ineffective tender and the project’s losses will be assessed but, he said, there are no plans to consider the possibility to replace the company’s board.

Ruling block to reject presidential veto

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda on Thursday, December 19, did not sign into law a bill lowering the parliamentary election threshold to 3 percent for political parties and 5 percent for party coalitions. The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania said they will have enough votes to reject President Gitanas Nausėda’s veto on a lower election threshold.

Troops allowed to go to 11 missions

The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, December 19, gave the green-light for the country’s troops to participate in 11 missions abroad in the next two years. Thus, the troops will participate in the NATO-led operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan (up to 60), the Alliance’s operation in Kosovo (up to 5), and its military training operation in Iraq (up to 11), as well as in the EU’s military operation Sophia (up to 20), the counter-piracy military operation Atalanta (up to 30), the bloc’s military training mission in Mali (up to 11), and in the Central African Republic (up to 11).

Vilnius authorities reject pro-Kremlin concert proposal

The Vilnius authorities have rejected this week to hold a concert in the Lithuanian capital’s Town Hall Square due to the Estonian organisers’ ties with Russia, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius said. The mayor said he received a Lithuanian-language proposal from Artmusic, an agency registered in Estonia, to organised a free concert, Unity Songs, in the Town Hall Square in central Vilnius in May. In the mayor’s words, the official website includes the logos of the Moscow authorities as well as the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Cabinet approves electricity supply market liberalisation

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, December 18, gave the go-ahead for liberalizing the retail electricity supply market between 2021 and 2023, which means that the state regulation of electricity prices for household consumers will be phased out. The measure has yet to be approved by the Seimas.

Vilnius greenlights national stadium construction contract

The City Council of Vilnius gave on Wednesday, December 18, the green light for signing a 156-million-euro contract with Axis Industries, the builder, and BaltCap, the financial investor, on the construction and operation of a national stadium in the Lithuanian capital. Under the contract, the complex including an UEFA-standard football stadium, sports fields and other facilities will be built by Axis industries, which is part of the Icor Group, and managed and operated by Kauno Arena for more than two decades. The complex will be designed by British architect Damon Lavelle of Populous, a global firm designing UEFA stadiums, and Lithuania’s Cloud Architektai.

Lithuanian prosecutors hand Snoras case over to court

Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Wednesday, December 18, it’s handing the former Snoras bank’s criminal case to court. Darius Stankevičius, a prosecutor from Prosecutor General’s Office’s organised crime and corruption investigation department, said that an indictment had been produced for Snoras’ former executives and shareholders.

Philosopher Šliogeris passes away

Arvydas Sliogeris, a Lithuanian philosopher and long-standing lecturer of Vilnius University, has died at the age of 75, Juras Banys, president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, said.

A controversial Lithuanian military officer exonerated

Jonas Noreika, a controversial Lithuanian military officer known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), led the anti-Nazi resistance of the Lithuanian region of Žemaitija (Samogitia) during the Nazi occupation time when he served as head of Siauliai County, and also organised a Jew rescue network in Siauliai, the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania said on Wednesday, December 18. The fact was disclosed following the discovery of a testimony of Father Jonas Borevičius. The report states that Borevičius gave this testimony in 1986 under oath at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’s eastern division in Chicago in a case of the United States vs Antanas Virkutis.

Seimas adopts social insurance fund SoDra’s 2020 budget

The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday, December 16, adopted the social insurance fund SoDra’s 2020 budget with 97 votes in favour not votes against and 10 abstentions. The fund’s revenue will stand at 4.894 billion euros, and expenses will amount to almost 4.55 billion euros. The major part of revenue, over 2.566 billion euros, will come from state social insurance contributions.

Nausėda insists on Latvian and Estonia not to buy Astravyets electricity

President Gitanas Nausėda on Tuesday, December 17, once again asked Latvia and Estonia not to buy electricity from the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus. Lithuania has been trying to convince EU member states to join its embargo of Belarusian electricity since early 2016, but other Baltic states have not made that step yet. Experts acknowledge that electricity produced in Astravyets theoretically might enter the common market via Russia and Latvia.

Prosecutors expect to finish Paleckis investigation by spring

Lithuanian prosecutors said this week they expect to finish the ongoing pre-trial investigation against Algirdas Paleckis, a Lithuanian politician suspected of spying for Russia, by the upcoming spring.

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Tax burden in Latvia proposed to be increased from 31.4% to 35% of GDP

The tax reform has not resulted in more rapid climb of budget revenue. This is why the Fiscal Discipline Council believes tax revenue increase is one of the most important criteria for the improvement of the tax system, as explained by FDP chairperson Inna Šteinbuka on Monday, 17 February.

Study: Coronavirus death rate in China at 2.3%; most victims among elderly and sick

China has carried out its first large study into the current coronavirus outbreak, where it found that the average death rate from the virus infection in the Asian country is 2.3%, according to British public broadcaster BBC.

Anna Emīlija Maligina’s and Dzīvokļ owned real estate in Jurmala auctioned off

A piece of land and two buildings located on Kāpu Street 60 in Jurmala jointly owned by pharmaceutical company Olainfarm’s deceased owner Valērijs Maligins’ daughter Anna Emīlija Maligina and LLC Dzīvokļ have been sold at an online auction, according to information from the website.

Saeima deputies put off vote on final MPC system report; say more time needed

On Monday, 17 February, Saeima’s Parliamentary Investigative Committee for Mandatory Procurement Component System did not vote on the final report. Approximately thirty minutes were spent discussing the fact that not all members of the committee have had an opportunity to study the latest redaction of the document.

Latvia’s president presents no plan for Misāne matter after meeting with heads of institutions

After meeting with representatives of the management of responsible institutions on Monday, 17 February, Latvia’s President Egils Levits did not present a clear action plan for Kristīne Misāne’s situation. However, he did stress the importance of civil activity, including the rising role online petitions.

Rubber stretching. 11th anniversary of Aivars Lembergs’ trial

Rubber stretching is a process that supposedly progresses but yields no benefits to anyone except the person doing the stretching. This allegory can be used to describe Aivars Lembergs’ trial, which has continued for 11 years.

101 applications submitted for project on preservation of cultural and historical heritage

A total of 101 applications for a total amount of EUR 1.68 million have been received for Riga City Council’s announced tender, as reported by Riga City Council chairman’s advisor Baiba Gailīte.

FKTK chief: Latvia has earned the right to avoid being «greylisted»

Latvia has earned the right to avoid being added to Financial Action Task Force «grey list», said the head of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Santa Purgaile in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Monday, 17 February.

Latvian government signs new contract for Latvia’s pavilion in Expo 2020

The government has signed a 1.4 million euros worth contract for the construction of Latvia’s pavilion at Expo 2020, which will be held in Dubai, as confirmed by Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro

Eurostat: Latvia’s GDP growth reportedly below average in EU in Q4 2019

When compared to the same period of the previous year, Latvia had a lower GDP than the average in the European Union in Q4 2019, according to data published by Eurostat for 20 of the union’s countries.

Signature collection for a referendum on municipal snap election regulations fails

According to provisional results from the Central Election Commission, it has not been possible to collect enough signatures to initiate a referendum over Saeima’s approved changes to municipal snap elections regulations.

Denmark plans to have Latvian citizen Misāne handed over to South African Republic

On Friday, 14 February, the Danish court ruled not to release Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne from custody. In the South African Republic the woman is accused of kidnapping her own child, as LTV was informed by Misāne lawyer.

Week in Lithuania: retailer Maxima got in trouble, Turkish firm’s assets frozen, New Agency set up

Lithuania's concessions provided to the Polish business group Orlen, operating an oil refinery in Lithuania's Mažeikiai, have helped to improve bilateral relations but were not the key element in their thaw, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said this week.

BNN summary of the week: Levits urges protecting officials. Riga City Council toppled. Tax changes planned

The BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Serious signals; Perseverance; Dismissal; Tax changes; Media supervisors; Inflation; Slower over the bridge and Belief protectors.

Prime minister orders development of proper government MPC monitoring rules

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has ordered Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro to immediately commence work on a new mandatory procurement component monitoring project and submit it as soon as possible to ensure efficient control over the system, as confirmed by the prime minister’s office.

1 700 medics infected with coronavirus in China; six dead so far

More than 1 700 medics in China are confirmed infected with the new coronavirus. Six of them have already died, as confirmed by healthcare officials.

Number of foreign guests hosted in Latvian places of accommodation up 1.6%

2.85 million foreign and Latvian visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments in 2019, which is 1.6 % more than in 2018. Compared to the previous year, the number of nights spent by visitors increased by 2.6 %, reaching 5.51 million in 2019.

Experts approve Riga Central Station’s Rail Baltica regional train reception solution

A solution has been found to install a four-lane railway section at Riga Central Railway Station to replace the existing two-lane section. This will help secure not only international and airport connectivity for Rail Baltica trains but also further improve intercity and suburban train services, as reported by the project’s representatives.

Beness Aijo asks Vladimir Putin for political asylum; claims Russia has released him

Beness Aijo, who fled Latvia to avoid criminal prosecution for calls of a violent overthrowing of the government, has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide him political asylum. He also claims Russian authorities have released him from custody.

Share prices plummet on stock markets over concerns for coronavirus

On Thursday, 13 February, share prices around the world plummeted as concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic in China. London Stock Exchange index declined shortly after British Finance Minister Sajid Javid’s sudden resignation.

Saeima to add considerable amendments to Criminal Procedure Law

On Thursday, 13 February, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law that provide the duty to provide truth in testimony if a person uses the right to testify.

Week’s end in Latvia will be snowy, rainy and windy

Strong wind, which may reach a speed of 25 m/sec along the coast, is expected at this week’s end in Latvia. Air temperature, however, will remain mostly unchanged, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

National Alliance and New Unity may run in Riga City Council elections separately

Following the decision made by the New Conservative Party to run in upcoming Riga City Council snap elections separately, a similar decision will likely be made by the National Alliance «All for Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK» and New Unity.

Airbnb and Vilnius sign «historic» agreement, taxmen to zero in on short-term rentals

Long chastised for little regulation, Airbnb, a popular short-term rentals platform, was praised this week in Lithuania after capital city Vilnius and Airbnb inked an agreement, envisioning that from February 1 onwards Airbnb will automatically collect Vilnius city tourism tax due per night and per person and transfer the sum directly to the City of Vilnius on behalf of hosts.

Latvian parliament dissolves Riga City Council

The Saeima has decided to dissolve Riga City Council. The city council remains active, however, because the law on its dismissal will come to force the next day after its promulgation. Now President Egils Levits has ten days to make his decision on the promulgation.

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