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Ceturtdiena 14.11.2019 | Name days: Fricis, Vikentijs

Week in Lithuania: Probe in Kaunas’ police underway, teachers hold protest, TezTour in deep trouble

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Kaunas Police chief Darius Žukauskas

Last week in Lithuania, the key news stories were a probe in Kaunas’ police, a teachers’ protest, the trouble of tour operator TezTour and the increase of the Lithuanian defence budget.

Police detain ex-executive of Ukraine’s state company

Lithuania’s police detained in Vilnius the former board chairman of Ukraine’s State Food and Grains Corporation, suspected of large-scale corruption in his country, law enforcement reported on Thursday, October 31. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) did not name the person detained. But Ukraine’s law enforcement launched a search for Petro Vovchuk, the former board chairman of Ukraine’s State Food and Grains Corporation, in December, 2017.

Teachers stage creative protest

 The Lithuanian Education, Science and Sport Minister Algirdas Monkevičius has called a meeting with five trade unions over a collective agreement on Thursday, October 31, while some teachers were staging a protest outside the ministry in Vilnius. Dozens of pumpkins were lit up in front of the ministry building during the symbolic protest action organised by the Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Union (LSMPS), which has earlier announced plans to go on strike this year. According to LSMPS, the Education Ministry pledged to allocate an additional 118 million euros for teachers’ salaries next year under the collective agreement signed earlier this year, but the government’s 2020 budget bills earmarks only 55.5 million euros in extra funding.

Russian opposition leader Navalny spotted in Vilnius

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny was spotted in Vilnius on Wednesday, October 30, online news site reported, publishing a photo of the man in a restaurant in the Lithuanian capital. The 43-year-old opposition leader and his associates last summer organized protests in Moscow that brought thousands of people into the streets to demand fair elections.

Suspended Kaunas police chief dismayed

Lithuania’s police are carrying out an international investigation into police corruption in the country’s second-largest city of Kaunas, prosecutor Vytautas Kukaitis told a press conference at the Police Department on Wednesday, October 30. Police Commissioner General Linas Pernavas also said during the press conference that Kaunas Police chief Darius Žukauskas would be removed from his position on the grounds of a possible threat to the security of classified information entrusted to him. Žukauskas has rejected the accusations against him as inadequate.

Vilnius school will work under English education program

Lithuania’s government on Wednesday, October 30, allowed a Vilnius-based private British school to work under the English national education program. Up until now, The British School of Vilnius has operated as an establishment of informal education. According to Erika Vikniūtė, the head of the reception department at the school, classes will take place in English, except for the Lithuanian and Spanish language classes, and all teachers have acquired their qualifications at UK higher schools.

Analysts: Lithuania’s economy is slowing

Lithuania’s economy has maintained a stable growth pace, analysts say after the country’s statistics office, Statistics Lithuania, said on Thursday, October 31, that the country’s GDP grew 3.6 per cent over a quarter. But analysts stress that growth is losing its momentum and one could hardly expect such growth in the last quarter of this year or next year. Indre Genytė-Pikčienė, a senior expert from the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, said that, contrary to mature euro zone states, consumers in Lithuania still have high expectations, with optimism supported by low inflation and still fast-rising wages.

Lithuania’s Maxima expands business in Bulgaria

Maxima Bulgaria, owned by Maxima Grupė, the largest retailer in the Baltic states, has received an approval by the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) regarding rental of the stores from the local retail chain Triumph in the city of Plovdiv, the country’s second-biggest city. Maxima Bulgaria shortly is going to proceed with the integration of the supermarkets into the T MARKET network. A part of the completely refurbished stores will be opened within a few months.

Tez Tour, partners suspected of document forgery, tax evasion

Aleksandras Sukovas, the head of Tez Tour, one of the largest tour operators in Lithuania, as well as VIP Viesosios Informacijos Partneriai, Aza Tours and several other companies are suspected of document forgery and tax evasion. Investigators from the Financial Crime Investigation Service’s Vilnius regional division have disclosed a group of 13 persons who used over a dozen companies providing tourism services to avoid the taxation of revenue worth at least 2 million euros. The FCIS said earlier that members of the group were suspected of fraud, property misappropriation, the submission of false data on revenue, profit or assets, fraudulent bookkeeping and forgery of accounting documents.

Lithuanian leaders congratulate Turkish president on Republic Day

 Lithuania’s leaders on Tuesday, October 29, congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Republic Day. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda wished Turkey and its people peace, wellbeing and success, and expressed his hope for closer bilateral cooperation between the two nations, his office said in a press release.

Lithuanian Red Cross, government agree to cooperate in crises

The Lithuanian Red Cross Society and the government signed on Monday, October 28, an agreement on cooperation in emergencies, nuclear disasters and crises. This is the first such document detailing the areas of cooperation. Interior Minister Rita Tamašiūnienė said she appreciated the Red Cross’ support for refugees living in Lithuania. Founded in 1919, the Lithuanian Red Cross Society is a member of the Geneva-based IFRC.

Funds to meet 2 per cent defence spending target in 2019 allocated

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, October 30, 19 million euros in additional funding for the Defence Ministry to meet the 2 per cent of GDP defence spending target this year. The government took the step after updated economic growth projections put Lithuania at risk of missing the 2 per cent target for the second year in a row. This will bring this year’s defence budget to around 967 million euros, or 2.03 per cent of GDP. Without the additional funding, the defence budget would have accounted for 1.98 per cent of GDP under the current projections.

 «Nova Lithuania» wins Riga International Film Festival’s award

Director Karolis Kaupinis’ film «Nova Lithuania» won the Riga International Film Festival’s award as the best feature film on Sunday, October 27. The director also received a EUR 2,000 cash prize courtesy of insurance company «Balta». Special mention award went to another Lithuanian film, Aistė Žegulytė’s «Animus Animalis».

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Municipalities to receive 5% instead of 25% from gambling tax revenue

On Wednesday, 13 November, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments in the final reading to the Law on Lotteries and Gambling Fee and Tax. Amendments include a new proportion for the division of the aforementioned tax between the state and municipal budgets.

Video: Venice affected by highest flood waters since 1966

In Italy’s picturesque Venice, the water level has risen by 1.87 metres. Two people have died during the floods.

OECD: Lithuanians, among rich nations, having highest alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption in Lithuania is the highest compared to other 43 countries in the world, found the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, also referred to as the «rich-nations club».

Minimal pensions to increase in Latvia next year

On Wednesday, 13 November, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the State Pensions Law. These amendments provide for increasing minimal retirement pension amounts in 2020.

Environment Ministry refuses to approve new waste management regulations in Riga

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has decided not to approve Riga City Council’s binding rules on waste management in the capital city, as confirmed by Riga City Council Housing and Environment Department’s Office for Environment head Evija Piņķe.

Harmony wants Honour to Serve Riga to cease working with independent deputies

Harmony political party may agree to continue working in the coalition of Riga City Council under the condition Honour to Serve Riga terminates cooperation with the Independent Deputies Faction, said vice-chairperson of Riga City Council Anna Vladova after meeting with Harmony’s faction on Wednesday, 13 November.

No legalisation. Estonia rejects calls for taking cannabis market in state’s hands

Over 1 000 activists in Estonia have signed a proposal for the state to tax and enforce its control over the illegal market of cannabis, by legalising it. Yet, legislators have not welcomed the idea citing health damage from the substance.

Elenger starts supplying Latvia with natural gas from Klaipeda terminal

Estonian Eesti Gaas subsidiary SIA EG Energija, which operates under Elenger brand, has commenced supplying Latvia with gas from Klaipeda floating gas terminal, as reported by Elenger Latvija board member Dāvis Skulte.

Harmony’s head promises constant control over party’s Riga City Council faction

The chairman of Harmony political party, Saeima deputy Jānis Urbanovičs promises to constantly control the party’s faction in Riga City Council. He wants certainty over the party’s ability to work.

Estonian minister’s actions to be investigated, says PM Ratas

Estonian ruling coalition has agreed that its Minister of Rural Affairs has to be investigated, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has stated. The current situation is over alleged links to a conflict of interest involving farming subsidies,

Criminal process launched against Russian citizen for possible laundering of EUR 2.3 million

Latvia’s State Revenue Service has commenced a criminal process for possible laundering of EUR 2.3 million of illegally obtained funds by some Russian citizen, as confirmed by VID.

Tesla to build its Europe electric car factory in Germany

American electric carmaker Tesla will build a factory for the production of «batteries, powertrains and vehicles», its chief executive office Elon Musk has stated.

Netherlands planning lower speed limits to tackle pollution

In the Netherlands, the government seeks to considerably reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxide by reducing daytime speed limit on roads from 130 to 100 km/h, leaked government plans to the press say.

State Real Estate board member steps down over construction worker’s death

Following the fatal fall of a construction worker off the roof of Finance Ministry’s building, State Real Estate board member Kitija Gruškevica has stepped down.

Doctors: Healthcare Ministry’s offered wage increase model is unfair

Healthcare Ministry’s proposed model for wage increase for doctors is unfair is goes against the previously voiced desire to raise wages for all healthcare workers equally, said chairman of Latvian Young Doctors Association Kārlis Rācenis and Latvia Health and Social Care Workers Trade Union chairman Valdis Keris.

NATO planes intercept one Russian war plane

In the Baltics, NATO fighter jets from the air policing mission, were last week scrambled once to respond to an alert of a Russian military aircraft.

Proposal to merge FKTK and Bank of Latvia makes it to third reading in Saeima

On Tuesday, 12 November, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided to submit to the Saeima amendments to the Law on the Bank of Latvia for the third reading. These amendments, among other things, provide for the merging of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Estonian village for autism care under construction

In Estonia’s north-west, a village, where different forms of the care of persons with autism spectrum disorder is under construction.

Value of September’s exported goods in Latvia up 2.5% when compared to 2018

In September 2019 the foreign trade turnover of Latvia amounted to EUR 2.44 billion, which at current prices was 1.6 % less than a year ago, of which the exports value of goods was 2.5 % higher, but imports value of goods was 4.6 % lower.

Court declares Latvian cosmetics manufacturer Dzintars insolvent

On Tuesday, 12 November, Riga City Pardaugava Court declared Latvian cosmetics manufacturer AS Dzintars insolvent. Jānis Ozoliņš was appointed as the company’s insolvency administrator, as confirmed by the court’s representative Viktorija Mežance.

EU’s hand extended to Belarus as Lukashenko visits Austria

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is on Tuesday, November 12, on a visit to Austria. It is his first foreign visit to an European Union member state in three years.

Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry proposes increasing wages for residents by 20%

Healthcare Ministry has come forth with a proposal to increase wages of local residents by 20% and wages of all other healthcare workers by 10%.

«The children arrive truly traumatised». Lithuania hosts 500 Ukrainian pupils

In Lithuanian schools, there currently learn more than 500 students from Ukraine, including the war-torn east of the country.

Internal Security Bureau’s investigations fail to improve situation in interior affairs services

Results of pre-trial investigations of the Internal Security Bureau (IDB) do not inspire improvement for the situation to improve within interior affairs services, which remain riddled with crimes of various categories, the bureau admits.

Ukrainian central bank ex-governor links attacks to oligarch over PrivatBank

Valeria Gontareva, whose family has been targeted in car and arson attacks, has linked the unclear events to an Ukrainian oligarch and the nationalisation of Ukraine’s largest bank PrivatBank.