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Week in Lithuania: State grapples with coronavirus crisis, CB sees no evidence of money laundering at Swedbank

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COVID-19, Swedbank, Lithuania, border, restrictions, emergency

In Lithuania, the top news of the past week were linked to economic and preventive measures amid the pandemic of the new coronavirus, as well as food prices going up and suspicions on Swedbank after fines in Estonia and Sweden.

Lithuania readies for remote learning

The Lithuanian Education Ministry said this week it is planning to purchase and lease 35,000 computers as schools prepare to launch remote learning if they remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Some 5,000 computers will be bought and another 30,000 will be leased, the ministry said in a statement on Friday, March 20. A total of 9.2 million euros have been earmarked for the purpose. General education schools enrol a total of over 300,000 students. As part of nationwide quarantine measures, the educational process in Lithuania has been suspended until March 30.

Lithuania forecasts 1.3-2.8 pc GDP contraction so far

The Lithuanian Finance Ministry forecasts that the coronavirus-hit economy will shrink by 1.3-2.8 per cent in 2020 if the virus is brought under control in the first half of the year. Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said this on Friday, March 20, while presenting the ministry’s updated economic growth projections.

Queues on Lithuanian-Polish border disappeared

Long queues of trucks on the Lithuanian- Polish border have disappeared and queues on the border with Belarus continues to subside, a spokesman for the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service said on Friday, March 20. Around 260 trucks waited to cross from Lithuania into Belarus at the Medininkai checkpoint on Friday morning, down from over 500 three days ago and about 300 on Thursday, according to the spokesman.

Lithuania’s coronavirus patient toll rises

Seven new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Lithuania late on late Thursday, March 19, bringing the country’s total to 48, the Health Ministry said on Friday, March, 20. Five of the latest cases were imported, it said, adding that more detailed about the remaining two cases would be released later. A woman who was the first to test positive for COVID-19 in Lithuania has recovered and has been released home.

New cargo of oil for Belarus arrives in Klaipėda

This year’s fourth tanker with oil for Belarus arrived in Klaipėda on Friday, March 20, and the neighbouring country plans to import one more crude shipment via the Lithuanian port this month. The Marshall Islands-flagged Fulmar docked at the Klaipėda oil terminal on Friday morning, according to the vessel tracking websites, and The tanker came from Russia’s Primorsk port, from which Transneft ships oil, via the Polish port of Gdansk.

CB: no evidence of money laundering in Swedbank Lithuania

After Estonian and Swedish investigators have fined Swedbank for failing to properly control money laundering, the Lithuanian central bank says it has no evidence of money laundering in its Lithuanian operations, said Jekaterina Govina, the director of the Bank of Lithuania’s Supervision Service, said in a statement on Thursday, March 19.

Company employing prisoners starts producing masks

Mūsų Amatai, a Lithuanian company employing inmates, has started producing reusable protection masks. They will be produced by female prisoners at the correctional facility in Lithuania’s northern city of Panevėžys, the Prison Department said on Thursday, March 19. Vytautas Ginius, head of Mūsų Amatai, says the production of the first shipment has already been started. The masks will, first of all, be used by staff of correctional facilities.

Higher demand pushing food prices up in Lithuania

The prices of some food products have gone up in recent days after Lithuania was placed under quarantine and people started panic-buying and stockpiling. Algis Baravykas, the head of the Association of Pig meat producers, says not only the prices of pork but those of other products are also rising. Arūnas Vizicskas, the founder of the price monitoring website, says not the price of pork but those of other products are also rising. According to him, since February 26 until now, the price of rice has gone up by 11 per cent, and that of buckwheat has jumped 35 per cent.

Police warn they might tighten public control

Lithuania’s police mull tightening the control of public places where many people gather to ensure compliance with the ongoing quarantine introduced in Lithuania to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Police Commissioner General Renatas Požėla said on Wednesday, March 18, people gathering in parks and leisure zones and children playing together pose threat, and officers might have to make authoritative decisions if the situation doesn’t change.

PM assures on availability of food supplies

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis assured people on Thursday, March 19, that the country will not run out of food and warned suppliers against taking advantage of the situation to raise prices. However, Rūta Vainiene, the head of the Lithuanian Retailers’ Association, says that suppliers are already increasing prices for their products. The prime minister noted that the law allows the government and the Seimas to consider imposing caps on retail prices for essential items.

Paleckis’ detention extended, court to hold public hearings

Algirdas Paleckis, a Lithuanian politician suspected of spying for Russia, will remain detained and Siauliai Regional Court will hold public hearings of his case. Vytautas Joncas spokesman for the court, said on Thursday, March 19, that the court will consider this case during public hearings, excluding that part of the process when information is considered to be a secret of the state and services. Paleckis has been detained since October, 2018. Allegedly, the defendant, acting in an organized group with an employee of Russian intelligence and other Russian citizens, including one found guilty in the January 13 case in Lithuania, collected information of interest for Russian intelligence in Lithuania for monetary and other remuneration.

Health Ministry allows treating mild COVID-19 cases at home

Mild cases of coronavirus will no longer be hospitalized but will be isolated and treated at home, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, March 19. Patients with more severe symptoms will be hospitalised, but they may be released home when their condition improves, even though the test results remain positive, according to the ministry.

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airBaltic to cancel up to 50% of planned flights until November 2020

As the crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic continues in Latvia, the country’s national airline airBaltic has decided to cancel nearly 50% of planned flights until November 2020, as reported by the airline’s representative Alise Briede.

Latvian government increases penalty for breach of COVID-19 restrictions

On Thursday, 3 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments to the Latvian Code of Administrative Violations in the final reading. The new changes increase the fine for violation of epidemiological security requirements, as well as restrictions imposed for the duration of the state of emergency in the country.

Estonian government to help local governments with supplementary budget

The Estonian government has submitted to legislators a supplementary budget aimed at allocating to local governments 30 million euros and another 100 million to help continue economic activity in the country, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Home. Soap. Two metres – SPKC reminds residents of the main safety measures

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads through direct contact with an infected person through droplets when a person sneezes of coughs, or by touching surfaces the infected person had previously sneezed or coughed on.

Belarus rejects Lithuania’s worries about alleged hiding of COVID-19 data

Minsk has rejected the concern voiced by Lithuania that alleged inadequate reaction to the spread of COVID-19 in Belarus could turn the country into a hotspot, which endangers Lithuania, LRT reports.

COVID-19 pandemic and corruption risks. How can government and society defend against them?

During a state of emergency, it is important for the Saeima, Cabinet of Ministers, Crisis Management Council and other officials to make decisions quickly and ensure completion. However, in such a situation there is a risk of dishonest officials abusing their powers for personal gain, risking the quality of democracy.

First death from COVID-19 confirmed in Latvia

The first death from COVID-19 coronavirus has been found in Latvia, as reported by public media

UN General Assembly calls for closer cooperation to contain pandemic

World’s nations in the UN General Assembly have unanimously passed a resolution confirming the unprecedented effects of COVID-19 and calling countries for increased cooperation, Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 493 infection cases in Latvia, 696 in Lithuania, 961 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Latvia has reached 493, increasing by 35 in the past day. Lithuania, meanwhile, reports 696 confirmed cases. According to the latest information from Estonia, the number of confirmed infection cases there has reached 858.

Budget revenue in Latvia approximately 7% behind plan in March

With the spread of COVID-19 crisis in March Latvia’s state budget revenue has dropped 7.2% behind the plan, according to unofficial information from LETA.

Global number of COVID-19 cases exceeds one million

Globally, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has exceeded one million and the death toll related to the infectious disease is 52 500, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Latvia prohibits exports of medicines needed during state of emergency

Exports of medicines vital for the domestic market during state of emergency will be prohibited in Latvia, according to the order published in the Latvian Herald by Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele.

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

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks has issued an order for Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) to provide support to the State Border Guard by sending national guardsmen to organize additional patrolling of the Latvian-Belarusian border, as confirmed by the minister.

Lithuania puts COVID-19-related prosecution above human rights

What should come first in a time of emergency like the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Obviously, order, but what about human rights?

Idleness rules will apply to companies with tax debts in Latvia

The idleness regulations in Latvia will apply to companies with tax debts, as provided by amendments to Latvian government rules approved on Thursday, 2 April, to rules on companies affected by COVID-19 and who qualify for idleness support and other benefits.

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

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has partially satisfied the plea from the surviving members of the family of the murdered lawyer Mārtiņš Bunkus against Saeima deputy Aldis Gobzems over defamation. The court has decided to enforce EUR 11 833 from him, as confirmed from the deputy.

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

Ex-Riga City Council’s Transport Department’s head Emīls Jakrins has become board chairman of architecture, design and restaurant business company LLC Vincents, according to information from

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

In Estonia, it has been decided to close one of two large oil shale mines after one miner tested positive for COVID-19, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

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

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 458, growing by 12 cases in the past day. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 649 confirmed coronavirus infection cases.

Germany to keep gathering restrictions past Easter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany is far from being over as the government extended its strict rules for gathering in public places until April 19, DW reports.

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

Efforts to overcome the direct negative effects from COVID-10 crisis will be financed from the state budget. After the crisis, however, the economy will be stimulated using EU funds, as decided by Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ led work group for support of entrepreneurship and the employed on Wednesday, 1 April.

EU planning lending programme to support temporary work schemes

EU member states would guarantee the creation of a fund up to 100 billion euros aimed at providing loans to governments to support workers in countries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission plans, according to EurActiv.

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