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Wednesday 21.08.2019 | Name days: Linda, Janīna
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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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Subsidies to controversial Riga transport company could increase by EUR 20 mln

Amid the criticism of the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme for its losses and their effect on the Latvian state budget, a plan has been voiced to increase its subsidies, now 120 million euros, by another 20 million euros, Latvian Radio reports.

Latvian Minister keeping adviser detained by corruption watchdog for now

Latvian Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards will clarify the reason, why his advisor and the mayor of the city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, has been detained by corruption investigators, to decide on keeping him in office.

Trump, Macron willing to readmit Russia to G7, despite Crimea annexation

The leaders of France and the United States have expressed their backing to readmitting Russia to the G7 conference of world powers in 2020, despite Ukraine’s Crimea still being held by Moscow, CNN reports.

Latvian excise tax income up by 8% in first half of 2018

The Latvian excise tax income in the first half of 2019 has been 521 million euros, –an increase by 39 million euros, or 8.1% – compared to the respective period last year, showed data by the Latvian State Revenue Service.

Latvian PM: Most of freely available 2020 budget funds already earmarked

Discussing the 2020 Latvian national budget, Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš pointed out that its fiscal space is limited by previous decisions and that the expected losses of the Riga transport company will not permit raising wages and pensions nationally.

Corruption watchdog detains Ogre city mayor Helmanis

The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has on Wednesday detained the mayor of central Latvian city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, according to LETA news agency.

New members to Freeport of Riga Authority elected, despite criticism

The Riga City Council elected to the Board of the Freeport of Riga Authority, mayor Oļegs Burovs and councilman Sandris Bergmanis, despite heavy criticism of the latter for incompetence and lack of vision.

Italy loses government, coalition of right-wing, anti-establishment parties collapses

Italy has lost its government with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announcing resignation after the right-wing League party pushed for no-confidence motion to its own government.

Kaljulaid opposed to Estonian minister after police chief scandal

Alleging that Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme has violated the law by trying to sack top police chief, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has stated that the minister has no place in the government.

Planned Latvian economic cases’ court conceptually backed by government

The plan by the Latvian Ministry of Justice to establish a court of economic cases has on Tuesday, August 20, been supported by the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

Riga deputy mayor posts go to Harmony and independent politician

In the Riga City Council, deputy mayors have been elected with one post going to Anna Vladova from Harmony and the other – to Vadims Baraņņiks from the group of independent councilmen.

Latvia charges energy company executives for attempted fraud

Two board members of Latvian power company SIA Rīgas enerģija have been charged in a criminal case for an attempt to acquire with deceit the rights to supply electricity as part of the mandatory procurement component programme.

Consumer protection: 34% of Latvians admit post-vacation financial difficulties

During vacation, 77% of Latvians spend more money than planned, but 34% admit having trouble making ends meet after vacation, according to a poll by the Latvian Consumer Protection Centre.

Firms like Riga transport company to be banned from working with losses, minister says

As the European Union’s statisticians have classified the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme in the debt of the national budget, it is planned in Latvia to prohibit such companies from working with losses, Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs has told LNT 900 sekundes programme.

Minor dies in large fire in Latvia

An underage person has been found dead in a large fire in the Latvian region of Vidzeme, the Latvian Fire and Rescue Service has said. Person wascsaved from burning house in Liepāja.

UK aims to end free entry of EU citizens on October 31

UK to stop free migration from European Union member states to the country right after the likely no-deal Brexit on October 31, the British government has stated.

Riga city elects new mayor – Oļegs Burovs – and restores decade-old coalition

The Riga City Council has elected Oļegs Burovs as the new mayor, ending two months of political discussions and restoring the coalition that has ruled in the Latvian capital for ten years.

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

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