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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 unitysongs.moscow 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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Programme: minister wants state secretary gone over an objection

Prior to major changes in Latvenergo’s council and board, the company’s current supervisor and Economy Ministry’s state secretary Ēriks Eglītis may lose his post. It is worth mentioning that he objected to providing Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s once boss Pāvels Rebenoks an official post, as reported by TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

UK’s Prince Harry steps down from royal duties after funding row

United Kingdom’s Prince Harry has announced the resignation of him and his wife Meghan from their royal duties after they did not succeed in being allowed to continue to serve without public funding. Prince Harry and Meghan have agreed to no longer formally represent the British Queen.

National Alliance wants pre-election promotion carried out only in state language in Latvia

On Monday, 20 January, at the meeting of the Coalition Council the National Alliance «All for Latvia-For Fatherland/LNNK» will ask participated in the meeting to discuss amendments to the Pre-election Campaign Law that propose limiting pre-election promotion to state language only.

Libya peace talks in Berlin seek to stop foreign involvement in war

A peace conference on Libya has been held in Berlin, where 11 countries have undertaken to respect an arms embargo and called for a lasting peace in the North African country between its two competing governments.

Weather in Latvia to be volatile this week; nights to be chilly on some days

This week’s weather is expected to be volatile in Latvia – the sky will be covered with clouds on some days and clear on others, some precipitation and strong wind is also expected. This week also air temperature will mostly stay at above 0° C.

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

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.

BNN summary of the week: Lay-offs at LDz. KNAB wrapped around ZZS’ finger. Ķuzis steps down

The last week demonstrated that not everything that glitters is gold. Although previously Latvian Railway proudly reported growing freights and revenue, the statement released in the middle of the week suggests the company is not in the best state – the company plans to lay off 1 500 workers by the end of the year.

FKTK lists exceptions in which banks are allowed to service Aivars Lembergs

Latvian Finance and Capital Market Commission has listed cases in which Latvia’s finance market participants will be allowed to service Aivars Lembergs, who is subjected to US OFAC sanctions and accused of serious crimes, and three organizations associated with him – Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association.

Appropriate jobs promised for laid-off LDz workers

Latvian State Employment Agency promises to find appropriate jobs for laid-off Latvian Railway workers. If need be, those people will be provided the opportunity for re-qualification, raise their qualification or train for a new profession, as confirmed by the agency’s representative Signe Bierande.

Bordāns selects potential candidates to lead the Supreme Court and Prosecutor General’s office

I can see people who could take the reins over the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Supreme Court and change their work standards, Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told TV3 programme 900 seconds when asked about any potential candidates to lead those institutions.

Ukrainian Prime Minister ready quit after leaked voice recording

Ukrainian head of government Oleksiy Honcharuk has offered to resign following the circulation of an audio recording, where criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his knowledge in economy is voiced.

Inflation in Latvia reportedly higher than Europe’s and Eurozone’s in December

In December 2019 inflation in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union and Eurozone, according to information published by Eurostat on Friday, 17 January.

Estonian population growth continues in 2019 due to immigration

Estonia has registered in 2019 population growth for the fifth consecutive year and it can be explained with immigration not with natural growth, according to preliminary data released by Statistics Estonia.

BNN investigation | Raunas street property: quiet assistant with a «secret wallet» for Lembergs

There are suspicions that Aivars Lembergs, subjected to international sanctions, has sold real estate located on Raunas Street 27 in Riga to his sister «on paper only». This may have been done to avoid confiscation of properties in the event of a guilty verdict or a possible arrest over the real estate property. However, it is possible Lembergs maintains full control over this real estate property and, most likely, the property is used to fatten his wallet on a regular basis.

Audit: majority of Latvian housing stock has degraded to a state of a slum

Since the denationalization effective access to housing security in Latvia does not exist and most of the housing stock has degraded up to a state of a slum, as concluded by the Latvian State Audit.

Prime minister affirms possibility of carrying oil supplies for Belarus through Latvia

During his meeting with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on Thursday, 16 January, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš affirmed that oil supplies for Belarus may be possible using Latvia’s ports.

Rain in Australia provides relief to continuing fight against bushfires

In eastern Australia, which has been suffering in prolonged and disastrous bushfires, heavy rain has been falling for the past 24 hours.

Weather to remain warm in Latvia at week’s end

At the end of the week the sky in Latvia will become clear and the sun will shine. No precipitation is expected. However, a low atmospheric pressure area will approach the country from the west during weekends, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

GKR helps overthrow Riga’s vice-mayors and put an end to ruling coalition

Riga City Council vice-chairperson Anna Vladova and deputy Druvis Kleins lost their respective posts at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, 16 January. This happened because multiple deputies from Honour to Serve Riga voted together with the opposition in favour of dismissing them.

Latvian Railway plans to lay off 1 500 employees

Latvian Railway plans to terminate labour relations with approximately 1 500 employees before the end of 2020, as reported by the company’s representative Ella Pētermane.

Russian State Duma approves Putin’s new Prime Minister

The Russian State Duma has approved on Thursday, January 16, the candidacy of the country’s next Prime Minister appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ventspils opposition invites Pūce to act to prevent US sanctions from spreading to city council

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry and especially Juris Pūce have to act to resolve the current state of Ventsils City Council. It should be dismissed, as the municipal government does not have moral, ethical or legal foundation to continue managing and implementing the criminal management’s policy, according to Ventspils City Council opposition deputies.

Trade unions urge Latvian government to resolve transit businesses’ blocked bank accounts problem

Multiple trade unions associated with the transit industry have turned to Latvia’s highest ranking officials with a request to resolve the situation with bank accounts of multiple transit companies having been blocked because of US sanctions against Aivars Lembergs. If the government does not act, trade unions promise to organize massive protests.

Anris Leimanis picked as RB Rail council chairman

Anris Leimanis, independent council member from Latvian shareholder, has been picked as Rail Baltica joint Baltic company AS RB Rail council chairman. Ahti Kuningas and Karolis Sankovskis will serve as vice-chairmen, as confirmed by the company.

CSP: number of residents at risk of poverty declines in Latvia

In 2018 a total of 434 thousand persons or 22.9 % of the population of Latvia were at risk of poverty – 0.4 percentage points less than in 2017.


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