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Ceturtdiena 02.04.2020 | Name days: Imgarde, Irmgarde

Week in Lithuania: Smoking ban in balconies fails, President approves new Cabinet, Iki against single-use plastic

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

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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COVID-19 prompts Latvian government to involve army in border patrol with Belarus

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Lithuania puts COVID-19-related prosecution above human rights

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Idleness rules will apply to companies with tax debts in Latvia

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Court to enforce nearly 12 000 euros from Gobzems for defaming Bunkus family

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Spain registers unprecedented job loss as lethal cases of COVID-19 exceed 10 000

In Spain, nearly 900,000 jobs have been lost since mid-March during strict measures to fight the coronavirus. 10,000 Spaniards have died from the virus disease, BBC reports.

Emīls Jakrins becomes board chairman of restaurant business company Vincents

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Jānis Vitenbergs approved in Latvia’s Economy Minister's post

On Thursday, 2 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved parliamentarian Jānis Vitenbergs as the country’s economy minister.

Large mine closes in Estonia after one of 800 miners tested positive for COVID-19

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COVID-19 update in Baltics. 458 cases in Latvia, 649 in Lithuania, 858 in Estonia

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Germany to keep gathering restrictions past Easter

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Shuttle buses and express buses on hold in Riga

LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has decided to shut down shuttle bus services on all routes in Riga until the state of emergency in Latvia is over, as confirmed by RMS.

Latvian government to finance COVID-19 crisis prevention efforts from state budget

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EU planning lending programme to support temporary work schemes

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Minister: repatriation efforts may be restarted mid-April

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Saeima committee supports writing off debts left from 2008 crisis

On Wednesday, 1 April, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported during a remote meeting the proposal to allow credit institutions to one-sidedly write off debts for mortgage loans taken prior to the 2008 economic crisis, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Belarus introduces ban on buckwheat exports

Belarusian government has prohibited temporarily the export of buckwheat and other staple foods, state news agency BelTA reported.

Moscow tests app for tracking infected people required to self-isolate

In Moscow, where a lockdown has been in place since the beginning of the week, a new smartphone app is being developed and tested aimed at ensuring that patients with mild symptoms adhere to their contract of self-isolation, Russian state news agency TASS reports.

Multiple of Nature Protection Office’s duties delegated to the State Environment Service

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry issued an order on 30 March to delegate multiple duties of the Nature Protection Office to the State Environment Service, according to information from LETA.

Latvian State Employment Agency received notifications for numerous planned lay-offs

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1 April onward entry to Jurmala by car will not be allowed without paying 2 euro fee

Wednesday, 1 April, marks the beginning of the the season when entry to Jurmala by car will require a 2 euro fee, as reported by Jurmala City Council.

Estonia looking at mass tests’ option to determine latency of COVID-19

The Estonian government has set itself the goal of mass tests of COVID-19 in the society, its Foreign Minister has revealed as the worst-hit Baltic country is looking at ways to overcome the outbreak, Estonian public broadcaster reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltic. 446 in Latvia, 581 in Lithuania, 779 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 446. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 581 cases.

Countries rush to support production of lung ventilators, essential amid pandemic

Governments and medical institutions in the world seek to acquire many lung ventilators that can save lives in severe cases of the COVID-19 disease. France and Israel have made recent announcements in this respect, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Public catering companies to adopt new hygiene requirements as of 1 April

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has expanded requirements for public catering and retail trade companies, BNN was told by the ministry.

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia confirmed infected with COVID-19

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