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Monday 16.12.2019 | Name days: Alvīne

Week in Lithuania: Vilnius municipality rebuked, Alibaba founder visits Vilnius, Audimas loses dispute with Audi

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULast week, President Nausėda called on spending more for social security, Lithuania marked 28 years since Medininkai checkpoint massacre, Centre of Registers opened up some data.

Lithuania appeals Gazprom dispute ruling

Lithuania has turned to the Supreme Court of Sweden, appealing against Sweden’s Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold the Stockholm arbitration’s 2016 ruling, unfavourable to Lithuania, in the country’s dispute with Russian gas giant Gazprom. Lithuania wants to recoup around 1.4 billion euros from the Russian company as this is the amount Lithuanian consumers overpaid for natural gas, and also have the court ruling on covering Gazprom’s legal costs of 1.3 billion euros overturned, Lithuania’s Ministry of Energy said on Thursday, August 1.

A study: alcohol control measures failed

Lithuania’s alcohol control policy based on bans and tax increases has failed to have any major influence on consumption habits, according a survey carried by scientists from Vilnius University. The survey results were released this week. The VU survey shows the legal sales of alcohol in Lithuania dropped around 7 per cent last year but people bought three times more alcohol abroad.

President calls for increased social security spending

President Gitanas Nausėda called on Thursday, August 1, for an increase in funding for social needs after meeting with Social Security and Labour Minister Linas Kukuraitis. Nausėda met with Kukuraitis amid an ongoing Cabinet reshuffle.

Minister slams Vilnius municipality for creating panic

Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas said on Thursday, August 1, Vilnius’ municipal authorities are creating panic among people by running an evacuation drill to test the city’s readiness to respond to a potential nuclear accident at Belarus’ Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant. According to the minister, this is creating scare and panic among residents of Vilnius, although, basically, there’s even no theoretical reason for doing so. On Wednesday, Vilnius’ municipality announced plans to hold a nuclear accident response readiness drill, involving an evacuation of a part of the city, on September 5.

Energy Ministry works out action plan for power grid synchronisation

The Energy Ministry said on Wednesday, July 31, it has worked out a plan of actions and measures for synchronising the Lithuanian electricity system with that of Continental Europe, in line with a synchronisation law passed by the parliament in June. It calls for expanding the existing LitPol Link interconnection between Lithuania and Poland, building a new submarine cable between the two neighbouring countries, named Harmony Link, and optimizing the power transmission network in northeastern Lithuania and carrying out other projects to reinforce the transmission infrastructure.

A businessman meets Alibaba founder in Vilnius

Tadas Karosas, a minority shareholder of Morele, the Polish owner of Lithuania’s e-retailer Pigu, admitted this week he met with Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, last week. The businessman refused to elaborate, however. Poland’s e-commerce platform Morele, which is 51 per cent owned by MCI. PrivateVentures, has been the sole shareholder of Pigu since last October. Pigu posted 86.793 million euros in consolidated revenue for the financial year started in April 2017, up 20.3 per cent compared with the previous year. Net profits increased more than five-fold to 2.827 million euros.

Both man and woman for EU commissioner being considered

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, July 31, Lithuania may nominate both a man and a woman candidate to be its next European commissioner. The prime minister’s comment came after Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, said earlier on Wednesday that Lithuania was not considering delegating a woman to the new European Commission. Under the law, Lithuania’s candidate is to be nominated by the government and approved by the president and the parliament.

Lithuanian MPs to collecting signatures for judges’ impeachment

Lithuanian lawmakers said on Wednesday, July 31, they are about to finish collecting signatures in favour of launching impeachment proceedings against several corruption-suspected judges. Lawmakers are proposing launching impeachment proceedings against Egidijus Laužikas, a Supreme Court judge, and the Court of Appeal’s judges Valdimaras Bavejanas, Viktoras Kazys and Konstantin Gurin.

Lithuania marks 28 years since Medininkai checkpoint massacre

Lithuania on Wednesday, July 31, marked the 28th anniversary of the Medininkai massacre when seven Lithuanian officials were gunned down at work by Soviet OMON fighters. Memorial events took place in Vilnius and at the Medininkai checkpoint on the Belarusian border. An early morning service took place at Vilnius Cathedral and solemn commemorations followed at Antakalnis Cemetery and the Medininkai Memorial.

HU-LCD suggests nominating Grybauskaite for EU commissioner

The opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats on Tuesday, July 30, suggested nominating the country’s former President Dalia Grybauskaitė for European commissioner. But the former president replied she was not seeking the position. Grybauskaitė served as Lithuania’s president for two terms from 2009 until early July this year. Before that, she was the European commissioner in charge of financial programming and budget in 2004-2009.

Centre of Registers opens up data on real estate

The Lithuanian Centre of Registers launched on Tuesday, July 30, its initiative to provide free access to anonymised data sets by opening up data on real estate. Acting Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius says more data will be opened up in the future.

Audimas loses dispute with Audi over EU trademark registration

Lithuania’s leisure and sportswear producer Audimas has lost this week a legal dispute with Germany’s carmaker Audi over the registration of its logo as a European Union trademark, the daily Lietuvos Rytas reported on July 29. According to the court, «Audi» is the main element in the «Audimas» mark, which may create a likelihood of confusion for consumers, especially Spanish speakers who could perceive it as «Audi Plus». The EU General Court has recently upheld the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s decision that the trademark applied for registration by Audimas may be confused with the Audi AG trademark.

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State company may take over Ventspils Freeport authority’s duties before year’s end

The newly-formed state company may take over the duties of Ventspils Freeport authority before the end of the year, says Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits.

Victims of New Zealand eruption remembered with moment of silence

In New Zealand, a minute of silence has been held to remember the 16 people, who lost their lives in a volcano eruption on an island popular among tourists.

Week in Lithuania: Conscription age lowered, Klaipėda port’s development plan approved, retail tax delayed

Last week, in Lithuania, the key news stories were the lowering of the national conscription age, the approval of the development plan of the Klaipėda port and the delay of the real estate tax.

BNN summary of the week: end of Lembergs Era? New governor for Bank of Latvia; fight for Riga City Council

The overthrowing of the «old league» in Latvia has caused a domino effect. The most notable event to have taken place this week is the addition of Aivars Lembergs and four of the associations he has influence over to the list of sanctioned persons USA. This has shaken up the established order in Ventspils and Latvia.

Aivars Lembergs leaves his post in Latvian Olympic Committee

On Friday, 13 December, individual member of Latvian Olympic Committee and member of its Executive Committee Aivars Lembergs announced to LOK board his decision to leave the organization, BNN was told by LOK press-secretary Mārtiņš Mālmeisters.

Ralfs Kļaviņš and Edvīns Bērziņš leave the board of Latvian Transit Business Association

Chairman of Riga Commercial Port Ralfs Kļaviņš and ex-chairman of Latvian Railway Edvīns Bērziņš have left the board of Latvian Transit Business Association, according to information from

US sanctions will not affect companies in which Lembergs no longer has any influence

The sanctions introduced by USA against Lembergs will not affect the companies over which he no longer has control thanks to a ruling of the court.

Liquidation of discount fares on multiple RMS routes would help save money for Rīgas satiksme

By liquidating multiple discounts for passenger fares on multiple LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme routes, LLC Rīgas satiksme public transport company hopes to save approximately EUR 1.75 million a year.

Tallinn region GDP portion decreases in Estonian economy

In 2018, 65% of the Estonian gross value added was created in Harju county, while the rest of the country is inching closed with Harju county, the official statistics of the Baltic country showed.

EU prolongs targeted sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

The European Union has extended for another six months its sanctions against Russia’s energy, finance and military sectors. The continued restrictive measures are said to remain in full until Minsk peace deal is implemented.

Local government representatives will no longer work at Riga and Ventspils freeport

Following the coming into force of amendments to the Law on Ports, representatives of Riga City Council and Ventspils City Council will lose their respective posts in the board of Riga Freeport and Ventspils Freeport, the law states.

Total tax debts in Latvia at December’s beginning – EUR 869.4 million

At the beginning of December, total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding, halted and extended debts, were equal to EUR 869.367 million, which is 1.9% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

In UK’s Brexit election, Conservatives win comfortable majority

In the British snap parliamentary election aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse, the ruling Conservative Party has won gaining a comfortable majority, according to close to complete results.

Riga City Council’s interim administration may be entrusted to VARAM state secretary Balševics

If the Saeima votes in favour of dismissing Riga City Council, the interim municipal administration may be entrusted to Environment Protection and Regional Ministry’s state secretary Edvīns Balševics, according to the ministry’s Riga City Council dismissal legislative draft to be decided on by the government on 17 December.

EU member states commit to 2050 carbon neutrality, Poland opts out

European Union’s 26 members, including the Baltic states, have supported the planned political course to considerably reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Coal-powered Poland said it could not reach the goal and opted out.

Latvia’s prime minister forms a work group to ensure Ventspils Freeport’s operations

On Thursday, 12 December, Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has issued an order on formation of a work group under Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in order to ensure undisrupted operations at Ventspils Freeport, as reported by the prime minister’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.

Ministry: to prevent damaging Latvian sports sector’s reputation, Lembergs should leave LOK

To avoid letting US sanctions negatively affect Latvian Olympic Committee and spread to the reputation of the country’s sports sector, the ministry can only ask Aivars Lembergs step down as member of LOK Executive Committee, BNN was told by Education and Science Ministry.

Budget Committee declines residents’ request to postpone increasing funding for parties

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has rejected a public initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents. This initiative requested postponing the planned increase of funding for political parties.

Lower election threshold in Lithuania – more democracy or chaos?

The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has lowered this week the parliamentary election threshold to 3 per cent for political parties and 5 per cent for coalitions.

Russia expels German diplomats, retaliating to German step over Berlin murder

Russia has asked two diplomats of the German Embassy to leave the country. This is a tit-for-tat measure after Germany declared two Russian diplomats personae non grata as Berlin investigates an international murder in the German capital, TASS reported.

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone to leave LTAB

Riga Freeport and Liepaja Special Economic Zone will leave Latvian Transit Business Association managed by Aivars Lembergs, as both are subjected to US sanctions.

Lembergs’ influence over Ventspils Freeport needs to end, bank supervisors say

The goal of the US sanctions is reducing Aivars Lembergs’ economic and political influence over Ventspils Freeport and other companies under his control. Sanctions are not meant to paralyse companies, rather seeing how they are used to process deals influenced by the person under sanctions – Aivars Lembergs, said Finance and Capital Market Commission head Santa Purgaile during a press-conference on Thursday, 12 December.

USD 25 million offered in Weinstein sage to 30 alleged sexual abuse victims

In the U.S. movie industry scandal surrounding sexual abuse claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein his lawyers have offered a USD 25-million settlement to more than 30 women, The Guardian reports.

Legal Affairs Committee supports lifting judge immunity for administrative violation cases

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported prior to the second reading legislative drafts to the Law on Judicial Power and Law on Judges Disciplinary Liability intended to lift the immunity of judges in administrative violation cases, as confirmed by Justice Ministry.

Estonian-Finnish gas interconnection unveiled

Estonia and Finland have held ceremonies to unveil the gas pipeline Balticconnector, built to connect the gas transmission networks of both countries separated by the Baltic Sea.

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