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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

Week in Lithuania: Turkish workers on strike, Transport Minister in trouble, Chinese probed over vandalism

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strike, vandalism, week in Lithuania, Vilnius, government

Turkish workers in Kaunas

Last week in Lithuania the key news stories were Turkish workers striking over wages in Kaunas, a Chinese woman being investigated over alleged vandalism and the Prime Minister meeting with embattled Transport minister.

Anti-corruption body names risks in citizenship restoration process

There are risks of corruption in the process of restoring Lithuanian citizenship, the Special Investigation Service (STT) said on Friday, January 3. The current time limit of not later than six months is too vague, which leaves room for unlawful agreements, the anti-corruption agency said.  According to STT’s press release, the law should make it possible to process application restoration requests under a fast-track procedure for an additional fee.

PM meets with Transport minister

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis met on Friday, January 3, with Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič. President Gitanas Nausėda has repeatedly called on Narkevič to resign as transport minister after he came under criticism for sacking the management board of the state postal company Lietuvos Paštas (Lithuanian Post), his behaviour during his recent visit to the UAE, for allocating funds for asphalt paving of streets in his election constituency and the one leading to Skvernelis’ home, and other issues.

President steps back on stricter regulation on plaques

President Gitanas Nausėda announced he will not seek a bill requiring municipalities to follow criteria set by the central government in making decisions on commemorative plaques.

Probe launched over Turks building stadium in Kaunas

A meeting of representatives of Kayi Construction, a company that hired Turkish construction workers who are on strike in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas, and the local authorities took place on Thursday, January 2.

Construction of GIPL starts in Lithuania

Preparatory work for the construction of the Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) has been started this week in Lithuania as the two countries plan to build it by the end of 2021 following the signing of the contractor contract with Lithuanian construction company Alvora, Lithuanian gas transmission company Amber Grid announced on Thursday, January 2.

Ignitis starts supplying gas to Finland

Ignitis, the electricity and gas supply arm of Lithuania’s state-owned energy group Ignitis Group, has become one of the first players in the Finnish gas market which opened up for competition on January 1.

Vilnius airport boasts of record year 2019

 Passenger traffic at Vilnius Airport surpassed the five million mark on the last day of 2019, setting a new annual record for the Lithuanian capital’s airport, Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports) said in a press release this week. The growth in passenger traffic in the last quarter of 2019 is attributed to the launch of flights to the Israeli resort of Eilat, and pre-holiday season trips.

President’s aide urges appointment of Klaipeda port CEO

An advisor to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda on Thursday, January 2, urged the government to appoint a new director of the Klaipeda State Seaport Authority. The port has had no permanent director since the firing of Arvydas Vaitkus last March by Rokas Masiulis, the then transport minister, who doubted whether the director could remain impartial toward enterprises that had supported him during last spring’s municipal elections.

Spain’s Indra Sistemas to upgrade rail traffic management

Spain’s Indra Sistemas will upgrade traffic management a part of the Vilnius railway bypass under a contract, worth around 1.21 million euros including VAT, signed with Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) in December. Tomas Digaitis, head of corporate communications at the state railway company, said on Thursday, January 2.

Amber Grid completes reconstruction of gas pipeline

Lithuania’s gas transmission company Amber Grid has completed the reconstruction of the sections of the international gas pipeline Vilnius-Panevėžys -Riga that stretch to the Lithuanian-Latvian border, the company said on Tuesday, December 31. The total value of the project stood at 8.1 million euros.

Kaunas gets permit for Science Island construction

The authorities in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas have received a permit for the construction of a Science Island it hopes to start building next year. The construction is estimated to take 18-24 months, meaning that the National Science and Innovation Museum would open its doors to the public in 2022.

Police investigates vandalisation of crosses

Lithuania’s law-enforcement decided on Monday, January 30, to launch an investigation into the apparent vandalization of crosses in support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters at the Hill of Crosses, a sacred religious site near the northern city of Šiauliai. The probe was opened based on the Criminal Code’s article on the desecration of a grave or another place of public respect, the police said in a press release. The investigation comes after a video and photos placed on social media platforms last week caused public outrage. In the video, a Chinese woman is seen removing a wooden cross with a message of support for Hong Kong protesters from its place and throwing it away while laughing.

Central bank slaps fine on Šiaulių Bankas

The Bank of Lithuania said on Monday, December 30, it has imposed a fine of 880,000 euros on Šiaulių Bankas for certain violations. The fine follows a planned targeted inspection of Šiaulių Bankas by the central bank to assess its compliance with the credit risk management and money laundering and terrorist financing prevention requirements.

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Court of first instance rejects Ušakovs’ appeal on dismissal as mayor of Riga

On Wednesday, 8 April, the Administrative District Court rejected Harmony politician Nils Ušakovs’ applications in which he appealed the order issued by Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce on his dismissal from the post of mayor of Riga, as reported by the court.

Latest on COVID-19 in Baltics. 577 in Latvia, 912 in Lithuania, 1 185 in Estonia

The number of COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 577, increasing by 29 cases in the past day. Lithuanian media, meanwhile, report 912 confirmed infection cases. Public data in Estonia reports 1 185 infection cases in this Baltic State.

Inflation in Republic of Latvia reportedly at 1.4% in March

Compared to March 2019, the average level of consumer prices rose by 1.4 % in March 2020. Prices of goods have increased by 0.9 % and prices of services by 2.7 %.

Lithuania’s BC chief: «Latvia’s COVID-19 support for business has been swifter»

It is official: Lithuania is extending lockdown until April 27 to combat the coronavirus pandemic which death toll in the country stood at 15 as of Wednesday noon. As many as 912 persons were diagnosed with COVID-19 by then.

Lithuania on path to allow price regulation in government

In Lithuania, the majority of legislators in the Seimas, have backed draft amendments that set forth allowing the government to regulate the prices of essential goods during this time of quarantine, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports.

BNN EXPLAINS | Envelope wages – one of the main reasons why idleness benefits may be denied

People need certainty – if they honestly pay taxes, they should be able to receive support from the state in the event of a crisis, since they have taken care of the state all this time by paying taxes, BNN was told in a phone conversation by chairman of LBAS Egils Baldzēns.

Criminal process launched against Aivars Lembergs for defamation

On 7 April 2020 State Police Kurzeme RP Saldus Department’s Criminal Police Office commenced a criminal process against Aivars Lembergs for untrue statements and claims he has used on multiple occasions during meetings of Ventspils City Council and Finance Committee against city council deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, as BNN was told by Kristovskis.

Latvia’s Prime Minister: we are financially well-situated in this crisis

We are financially well-situated in this crisis, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama.

Latvian government supports dismissal of State Land Service’s director general

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has supported Justice Ministry’s prepared decision project that details the dismissal of the State Land Service director general Solvitai Zvidriņa from her post, as confirmed by Justice Ministry.

China lifts lockdown in Wuhan

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global pandemic of COVID-19 began, a lockdown has been lifted for the first time since January, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Support in Latvia for COVID-19 crisis prevention reaches four billion euros

The volume of support available in Latvia to finance preventive measures to overcome COVID-19 crisis has reached four billion euros, as reported by Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs on Tuesday, 7 April.

Another month stuck home. Latvian government extends state of emergency

The state of emergency declared in Latvia because of COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until 12 May, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on social media on 7 April.

75 reports on competition distortions reported to Competition Council in 2019

Last year, the Competition Council received a total of 75 reports related to competition distortions caused by public persons, according to information listed in the latest public account for the institution’s more significant accomplishments in 2019 and developments in competition rights enforcement in Latvia.

Australia quashes child abuse convictions against cardinal Pell

A court in Australia has overturned child sex abuse convictions against cardinal George Pell after he was found guilty and received a prison term, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Education and Science Ministry considers not cancelling centralized exams

Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry considers the option to not cancel centralized exams, especially for 12th graders, as reported on Tuesday, 7 April, by Education Minister Ilga Šuplinska during a meeting with Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee.

Estonian government in two minds on cutting public spending to help economy

Should public spending be cut to help restore the economy? Two of the three parties in the Estonian government have opposing views on this as economic recovery is increasingly discussed, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Riga International Airport plans to lay off 500 employees

Because of consequences caused by COVID-19, Riga International Airport plans to lay off 500 employees, as BNN was informed by the company.

Poland planning to hold presidential election as postal ballot

The Polish presidential election in May should be held as a postal ballot, the country’s legislators have decided. Opponents of the idea argue that this means putting public health at risk, British-Canadian news agency Reuters reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 548 infected in Latvia, 880 in Lithuania, 1 149 in Estonia

The total number of confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 548, increasing by six in the past day.

Latvian president urges not to sort idleness benefit recipients based on tax debts

When assessing whether or not a company meets requirements for idleness benefit eligibility, Latvia’s President Egils Levits urges the government to not sort them based on tax debts.

British PM Johnson treated from COVID-19 in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in London with his COVID-19 symptoms worsening as the outbreak is claiming more lives in the United Kingdom, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Riga City Council snap elections pushed back to 5 September

The ruling coalition in Latvia has agreed to push back Riga City Council snap elections to 5 September, as journalists were told by politicians after a meeting of ruling parties on Monday, 6 April.

US death toll of COVID-19 nears 11 000

The US, which is the country with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections, has on Tuesday, April 7, reached a total number of COVID-19-related deaths of 10 986, according to the US John Hopkins University and German public broadcaster DW.

Prime Minister says Latvia will neither enhance nor relieve restrictions

We do not plan to enhance restrictive measures, but neither do we plan to relieve restrictions – the storm is not over. Nevertheless, we are on the correct path, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Spanish coronavirus death toll drops for fourth day in a row

In Spain, for the fourth day a row, the number of COVID-19 related deaths per day has decreased as the country has the most confirmed cases in infection in Europa, BBC reports.

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