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Tuesday 20.08.2019 | Name days: Bernhards, Boriss

Week in Lithuania: ruling parties sign memorandum, CIA prison probe re-emerges

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

Ramūnas Karbauskas, the leader of the Lithuanian Union of Farmers and Greens

Last week, Lithuanian politicians honoured the memory of late US Senator John McCain, Neringa Venckienė, an embattled former MP, sought to avert a US immigration court’s decision to hold her asylum hearing in 2022, FNTT said illegal workers were hired for works on Vilnius’ Gediminas Hill.

POLITICS: LFGU, LSDLP, Order and Justice party agree on ruling coalition

The leaders of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), the Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP) of Lithuania and the Order and Justice party on Thursday, May 30, signed a memorandum on a ruling coalition and expected the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance to join it. A ruling coalition involving four parties would have 77 seats in the 141-seat parliament. Under the memorandum, LSDLP is to take over parliament speaker’s post. Viktoras Pranckietis, the current speaker, refuses to step down.

Basketball star refuses EP seat

Šarūnas Marčiulionis, a former Lithuanian basketball star who ran in the European Parliament election on the Farmers and Greens’ list, refuses the seat he won. Ramūnas Karbauskis, chairman of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), confirmed this to journalists on Tuesday, May 28. Marčiulionis’ decision cleared the way for Stasys Jakeliūnas, the next candidate on the LFGU party list, into the European Parliament.

Adamkus calls on president-elect to boost ties with Poland, Germany, US

Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus, who backed Gitanas Nausėda in the election, has called on the president-elect to strengthen ties with Poland, Germany and the United States. In an interview with the daily Lietuvos Rytas, Adamkus praised Nausėda’s decision to go to Poland for his first visit as president. Adamkus, who served two terms as president of Lithuania, in 1998–2003 and 2004–2009, says he feels that Nausėda is ready to communicate with politicians of any calibre.

Šimonytė is not considering offer to lead HU-LCD list yet

MP and former presidential candidate Ingrida Šimonytė said this week she was not considering yet a public proposal by Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, to lead the party’s candidate list in the upcoming parliament election and, in case of success, head the government, after she lost Sunday’s presidential election. She also pledged to consider joining the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

BUSINESS: Lithuania invites China to use it as gateway to European market

Government Chancellor Algirdas Stoncaitis, who met on Friday, May 31, with You Quan, head of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, invited China’s finance minister and its central bank governor to participate in the 17+1 (China, Central and Eastern Europe) High-Level Financial Technology Forum in Vilnius in late November. The government chancellor is travelling to China next week to meet with top officials at the Foreign Ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission, and to take part in a 17+1 event, the Road and Belt Conference and a Lithuania-China business forum.

LEGACY: Politicians honour memory of late US Senator McCain

Lithuanian politicians on Thursday, May 30, honoured the memory of US Senator John McCain, who passed away last year, during the opening of a hall named after him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius reminisced about the republican senator’s support to Lithuania during its path towards independence and seeking NATO and EU membership.

MEDIA: Lithuanian Church wants to keep seat on LRT council

The Lithuanian Catholic Church says there no legal obstacles to it having its representative on the council of the public broadcaster LRT. The comment came after the government suggested this week that the Seimas remove a provision in the law on LRT giving the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference one seat on the public broadcaster’s governing body. The Cabinet argues that under the Constitution, there is no state religion in Lithuania.

JUSTICE: Ex-Lithuanian judge appeals US court decision

Neringa Venckienė, a former Lithuanian judge and lawmaker, has appealed a US immigration court’s decision to push her asylum hearing from 2019 to 2022. Lithuanian prosecutors want Venckienė to be extradited to stand charges of refusing to obey a court order to return her niece to her mother, molesting the child, illicitly collecting information, abusing her rights as the girl’s guardian and other crimes. Venckienė says that the charges are politically motivated and that her life will be put at risk if she is handed over to Lithuania.

Pressure was put on prosecutor in CIA prison probe

The prosecutor in charge of a pre-trial investigation into the alleged CIA detention site in Lithuania faced pressure not to end the probe, Julius Rėksnys, the leader of prosecutors’ trade union said on Wednesday, May 29. The case was investigated by Mindaugas Duda, who then worked as a prosecutor at the Prosecutor General’s Office. Human rights activists believe that one of the sites, the one referred to as Violet in the report, was located near Vilnius.

NEIGHBOURS: Lithuania downplays Estonia, Latvia’s alcohol excise cuts

Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka on Thursday, May 30, attempted to calm those who fear Lithuanians will rush to the neighbouring countries of Latvia and Estonia to buy alcohol after Estonia will cut its alcohol excise by a quarter and Latvia plans to follow. According to the minister, no decisions on cutting excises have been made in Latvia yet.

CRIME: Illegals hired for works on Vilnius’ Gediminas Hill

Investigators suspect that illegal workers from Ukraine and Belarus were hired for reconstruction works on Vilnius’ landmark Gediminas Hill, the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) said on Wednesday, May 29. A pre-trial investigation has revealed that Lithuanian and Polish-registered companies owned a Ukrainian national illegally hired workers from Ukraine and Belarus, forged documents and falsified their account books.

Ex-head of major hospital suspected of bribery

Prosecutors have brought formal suspicions of bribery against Kęstutis Strupas, a former director general of Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos, one of Lithuania’s major hospitals, the Prosecutor General’s Office said on Wednesday, May 29. The Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office has discontinued the part of its investigation regarding abuse of office. It is suspected that Strupas, via Romualdas Kizlaitis, the director of the hospital’s Informatics and Development Centre, demanded illegal financial remuneration, disguised as financial support, from businesses winning public procurement contracts.

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EU: Rīgas satiksme cuts Latvian budget fiscal room in 2020 by 72 mln EUR

The Riga city company Rīgas satiksme should, according to European Union criteria, be in included in the general government sector, thus it would cut the fiscal space of the 2020 Latvian state budget by 72 million euros, Finance Ministry stated.

Latvijas Krājbanka’s administrator recovered 542 thousand euros in July

The administrator of the insolvent Latvian bank Latvijas Krājbanka recovered 524 444 euros in July, which is by 75% more than a month earlier, according to the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis.

Latvian post-reform administrative centres to have 2 000 - 630 000 populations

After the planned administrative reform of Latvia, the population size of the administrative centres of the new municipalities is expected to vary from 2 000 to 632 000 people, according to a conceptual report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

A week of warm, but changing weather forecast for Latvia

Weather in Latvia this week is expected to be summer-like and warm, with rain expected on Thursday and Friday, according to the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Kabul wedding terror attack committed by Islamic State, the group says

Responsibility for the terror attack in Afghanistan, where explosives killed 63 people. has been claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group.

British Gibraltar releases seized Iran oil tanker

An Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar, part of the United Kingdom, has sailed away from port after being allowed to do so despite Washington’s call to detain it again.

BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s biggest budget; PNB Bank halts operations; Latvia sad with Latvia

Some positive news surfaced in Latvia this week – Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš announced that the country’s next budget will be the largest one yet and will exceed EUR 10 billion. In spite of this, however, financial difficulties have been observed – PNB Bank has ended up in a tight spot. The bank’s shortage of funds has forced Finance and Capital Market Commission to halt all of the bank’s financial operations.

Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

Last week, President Gitanas Nausėda rejected the government’s candidate for EU judge, hints of big changes at Šiaulių Bankas ahead

Independent Deputies Faction joins forces with Honour to Serve Riga

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction has signed a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga political party, pledging support for the party’s mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs, as LETA was told by the faction’s leader Valērijs Petrovs on Monday, 18 August.

Saeima’s MPC investigation committee requests information on every issued license

The parliamentary committee formed to investigate the mandatory procurement component has requested access to information regarding every issued MPC license and decision made by officials in regards to this field, says the committee’s representative Ilze Vanaga.

Latvian athlete receives two-year disqualification

Former Latvian long jumper Ineta Radeviča has received a two-year disqualification, as confirmed by International Association of Athletics Federation’s Athletics Integrity Unit.

Minister: state budget funds will not be used to compensate PNB Bank’s clients

The Deposit Guarantee Fund is sufficient to pay compensations to affected PNB Bank clients. This means not a cent from Latvia’s state budget will be used, said Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs in a telephone conversation with public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 16 August.

Estonia to invest 22 million in construction of a new TV house

Estonian government has set aside EUR 22 million for the construction of a new public television building, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Another one falls – Latvian FCMC halts PNB Bank’s operations

Operations of PNB Bank [formerly Norvik Banka] have been halted in Latvia, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Unemployment index in Latvia drops – rate down to 6.4% in Q2

In Q2 2019 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 6.4 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, and compared to the rate recorded a year ago, it dropped by 1.3 percentage points.

64.7% of Latvia’s population reportedly employed in Q2 2019

905.6 thousand people or 64.7 % of Latvia’s population aged 15–74 were employed in Q2 2019.

Lithuanian Conservatives’ tensions: can the party split?

The Conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) have risen to unseen heights lately – although in the opposition now, in 2016 parliamentary election the party racked up a record support in its 30 years’ history.

Minister: Latvia’s social budget surplus has reached one billion

The surplus of the state social budget has come close of the pre-crisis level – EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 15 August.

Riga City Council permitted to elect mayor after two-month deadline

In spite of the fact that 21 August will mark two months of Riga City Council working without a mayor, a condition that permits Latvia’s Saeima to dismiss the entire city council, deputies of the municipality will nonetheless have the right to elect a mayor after the deadline, says Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce’s advisor for legal affairs Valdis Verners.

Lithuanian president unhappy with Latvia’s decision to purchase energy from Belarus

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has voiced sadness over Latvia’s decision to purchase electrical energy produced at Astravets nuclear power plant in Belarus not far from the Lithuanian border. He admits, however, that this decision was not unexpected for him.

State Real Estate claims ReRe Būve 1 may be trying to circumvent the law

Construction company Rere Būve 1 publicly voices desire to continue implementing the construction contract. However, the construction company’s submitted work schedule for reconstruction of New Riga Theatre has everything changed – volume of work, terms and budget, Latvian State Real Estate reports.

Lithuanian mountaineer dies climbing French Alps

Lithuanian 38-year-old mountaineer Vytautas Mažeika died in a 50 m fall in the French Alps, Lithuanian public media LRT reports with reference to

Estonia decides to reform pension system; increase not promised

Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Estonian coalition party Isamaa, has confirmed that the government has agreed on his proposed pension reform, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Ruling party in Lithuania promises national agreement for education affairs

While more and more small town schools close down in Lithuania, the leader of the ruling party promises a «national agreement» for education affairs, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Viesturs Zeps’ has yet to convince NCP and Unity to support him as mayoral candidate

Mayoral candidate in Riga Viesturs Zeps still has not convinced New Conservative Party and Unity to support him, according to what he said in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 15 August.