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Wednesday 21.08.2019 | Name days: Linda, Janīna

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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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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