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Monday 19.08.2019 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta
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Week in Lithuania: Smoking ban in balconies fails, President approves new Cabinet, Iki against single-use plastic

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Last week, Lithuanian government didn’t back ban on smoking on balconies, President Nausėda approved cabinet with three new ministers and blasted acute social exclusion cases in two municipalities.

SD fraction won’t vote for a proposed EU commissioner

The opposition Social Democratic Party of Lithuania’s political group in the Lithuanian Seimas will not back the nomination of Virginijus Sinkevičius, representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, for European commissioner, Gintautas Paluckas, chairman of the party, said on Friday, August 9. In his words, as the LFGU lacks strong candidates, social democratic candidates, including Rasa Budbergytė, who led the Finance Ministry of six months in 2016, and also MEP and former Social Security and Labour Minister Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, could be nominated for the position.

Sakartvelo call to end ties with international orthodox forum

Sakartvelo’s parliament has called on the Lithuanian Seimas to end its ties with the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. In a letter sent Thursday, August 8, to Seimas members, Giorgi Kandelaki, deputy chairman of the Sakartvelo parliament’s European Integration Committee, says the organisation has been recently dominated by Moscow, and involvement in its activity only helps Russia to implement its agenda. Lithuania does not have a permanent delegation to the orthodox assembly but sometimes sends its lawmakers to its events.

Jewish Community reopens headquarters, synagogue

The Jewish Community of Lithuania on Thursday, August 8, announced it was reopening its headquarters and Vilnius Synagogue. The premises were closed on Tuesday, August 6, in response to received threats following rising tensions over the Vilnius authorities’ decision to remove memorial signs to Kazys Škirpa and Jonas Noreika, two controversial figures in Lithuania. Tensions have risen in Lithuania in recent weeks following Vilnius officials’ decisions to rename a street named after Kazys Škirpa, a controversial 20th century Lithuanian diplomat and military officer, and to remove a memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika, a high-ranking military officer accused of collaborating with the Nazis, due to their activities during WWII. A rally was held by over 300 people in central Vilnius on Wednesday, with participants stressing Noreika and Škirpa’s contribution to the anti-Soviet movement.

Grocer Iki set to eliminate single-use plastics from its stores

Iki, Lithuania’s largest retail chain by the number of stores, is set to eliminate single-use plastic plates, cups, cutlery and straws from its stores in the near future. The company stopped replenishing the stock of such disposables in early August, but leftover items are still available in some stores, Berta Čaikauskaitė, the chain’s head of communications, said in a press release on Thursday, August 8. Maxima Grupė, the largest retail chain in the Baltics, said earlier this month that it would stop selling plastic dishes, straws and bags at its stores in the Curonian Spit.

Russian oil contamination suspect appeals his arrest in Vilnius

Roman Ruzhechko, a suspect in a Russian oil pipeline contamination probe, has appealed his arrest in Vilnius, his lawyer said on Wednesday, August 7. Russian law-enforcement officials are seeking an extradition of Ruzhechko whom they suspect of involvement in the contamination of Transneft’s Druzhba oil pipeline. Ruzhechko was detained in Vilnius in mid-July.

Ignalina N-plant cancels bidding for repository contract

Lithuania’s Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP), which was shut down a decade ago and is now being decommissioned, cancelled on Wednesday, August 7, the tender process for the construction of a 100-million-euro near surface repository for low and intermediate level short-lived radioactive waste, known as the B25-2 project. The plant said in a press release the procedure was cancelled on orders from the Public Procurement Office, or VPT.

Government doesn’t back ban on smoking on balconies

The Lithuanian Cabinet decided on Wednesday, August 7, not to approve draft amendments that call for banning smoking on balconies of apartment buildings if at least one neighbour is opposed. The initiative had prompted heated discussions among politicians. The Cabinet adopted the decision on its third attempt. The government says in its opinion that enforcing such a ban would require disproportionately high financial and human resources.

President approves cabinet with 3 new ministers

President Gitanas Nausėda approved on Wednesday, August 7, a reshuffled Cabinet with three new ministers.  MP Jaroslav Narkevič of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (EAPL-CFA) replaces Rokas Masiulis as transport and communications minister, MP Rita Tamašiūnienė of the EAPL-CFA replaces Eimutis Misiūnas as interior minister, and MP Andrius Palionis of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP) takes over as agriculture minister from Giedrius Surplys. The three replacements mean that the prime minister will have to submit his Cabinet to a confidence vote in the parliament.

President blasts social exclusion cases in Ziezmariai, Birzai

The recent events in Žiežmariai and Biržai are direct reflection of the existing social exclusion, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Wednesday, August 7. His post came in response to the recent events in Biržai, northern Lithuania where the local community blocked plans to build a care home for eight minors without parental care, and residents of Žiežmariai, central Lithuania also objected to the construction of an accommodation for ten mentally-disabled people. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has also called on institutions and the local communities in Biržai and Žiežmariai to take action over the situation.

Economy minister meets with EC president in Brussels

Lithuania’s acting Minister of Economy and Innovation Virginijus Sinkevičius, one of the candidates to represent Lithuania at the European Commission, has met with the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels on Tuesday, August 6. The minister and his team have not commented on the meeting yet. Lithuania has not officially decided on its candidate for European commissioner yet but the ruling LFGU said several weeks ago they would back Sinkevičius.

President initiates dismissal of corruption-suspected judges

President Gitanas Nausėda has on Tuesday, August 6, initiated the dismissal of the remaining five judges named as suspects in a corruption case. The head of state asked the country’s Judicial Council’s advice on the dismissal of five corruption-suspected judges. The president signed decrees, addressed to the Judicial Council, asking for its advice regarding the dismissal of Viktoras Kazys of the Court of Appeal, Henrich Jaglinski, a judge of Vilnius Regional Court, Arunas Kaminskas of Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, Gintaras Čekanauskas of Kaunas District Administrative Court, Robertas Rainys of Vilnius City District Court, after they tarnished the name of a judge with their actions.


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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 15min.lt.

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.