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Tuesday 25.06.2019 | Name days: Maiga, Milija
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Week in Lithuania. Watchdog: Simpsons might have negative effect on minors

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This image released by FOX shows character Homer Simpson, from the animated series, “The Simpsons”

The Radio and Television Commission (RTCL) of Lithuania believes the popular American sitcom, The Simpsons, might be having negative impact on minors, thus, should be shown after 9 p.m. According to the watchdog, certain scenes involving the use of alcohol, polygamy promotion, and talks about sexual intercourse, could be detrimental to minors. The RTCL has asked the TV3 channel airing The Simpsons to provide explanations.

Parliament extends fall session until January 12

The Lithuanian parliament has extended its fall session until January 12. Newly-appointed ministers are expected to be sworn in during plenary sittings scheduled for January 11 and 12. Under the Constitution, the parliament’s fall session starts on September 10 and ends on December 23. If the session had not been extended, the Seimas would have had to hold a plenary sitting on Sunday, December 23, the day before Christmas Eve.

Parliament backs MRU-VGTU merger

The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, December 20, endorsed plans to merge Mykolas Romeris University with Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, with 84 votes in favour, no votes against and two abstentions. Earlier, the Lithuanian parliament backed the merger of Aleksandras Stulginskis University and the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences. In early December, lawmakers backed the government’s proposal to merge Siauliai and Vilnius Universities.

Seimas greenlights Lithuanian Railway’s overhaul

The Seimas of Lithuania (Parliament) on Thursday, December 20, backed plans for the overhaul of the state-run railways company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways), with 69 votes in favour and nine abstentions. Under the plan, instead of the railway company’s three existing directorates, including Passenger Transportation Directorate, Freight Transportation Directorate and the Railway Infrastructure Directorate, three separate enterprises will be established and Lietuvos Geležinkeliai will own their shares. Lietuvos Geležinkeliai will remain a solely state-owned company. Failure to overhaul the railway company would have caused Brussels’ punitive actions.

Presidents’ friendship encouraged to invest in Belarus

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), says the Lithuanian and Belarusian presidents’ friendship encouraged Agrokoncernas to invest in the neighbouring country, even though his business purchased a plant in the Brest region before Dalia Grybauskaite became president. Karbauskis’ comment came after the Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT) reported on Thursday that Agrokoncernas had owned a fertilizer plant in Belarus in 2008 to 2017. Agrokoncernas acquired a 50 per cent stake in Xoll Kemikal, the owner of the Belarusian fertilizer plant, in 2008 and signed a deal to buy another 30 per cent of shares at the end of that year, bringing its total shareholding to 83.22 per cent.

New referendum law allows more polling places abroad

The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Thursday, December 20, the new wording of the Law on Referendum that adjusts referendum organization procedures and allows more polling places abroad.

The new wording of the law, which was passed with 65 votes in favour, two against and 18 abstentions, is expected to come into force in January. Decisions on additional polling stations for a referendum will be made by the Foreign Ministry and will have to be approved by the Central Electoral Commission. Lithuania plans to hold a dual citizenship referendum on May 12 and May 26, 2019, in tandem with the first and second rounds of voting in the next presidential election.

President signs 2019 budget bill into law

President Dalia Grybauskaite on Thursday, December 20, signed into law a bill on next year’s central government and municipal budgets. The 2019 budget projects a total of 10.59 billion euros in central government budget revenue, including 1.922 billion euros in EU and other international financial support, and 11.706 billion euros in expenditure. This leaves a budget deficit of 1.106 billion euros. The ruling bloc says the planned cut in labour taxes will help increase incomes for all working Lithuanians and will encourage job creation, but critics warn that the reform will leave a hole in the state’s coffers that will affect public sector financing.

Minister regrets failure to stop Belarus’ N-plant project

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius regrets that Lithuania failed to stop the construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, despite major efforts to torpedo the project. He said the project in Astravyets, just 50 kilometers from Vilnius, should have been stopped from the beginning. The chief diplomat also said he regretted that Lithuania did not have sufficient arguments to convince neighbouring countries not to buy electricity from the Astravyets plant. Belarus expects the plant’s first reactor unit to be ready for industrial power generation by late 2019 and the second unit to be operational by mid-2020.

Government to draft bill on freezing of Russian oligarchs’ assets

The government said on Wednesday, December 19, it will itself draft a bill providing a legal basis for freezing assets of Russian oligarchs and officials on Lithuania’s blacklist and restricting their economic and financial activities in the country. The Cabinet did not approve of similar amendments tabled by two opposition parties – the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) and the Liberal Movement. If the amendments were adopted, money kept in Lithuania-based banks and other financial assets would be frozen, and people and companies in Lithuania would be banned from doing business with blacklisted individuals.

Government nods to 3 PPP military base development projects

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, December 19, gave the go-ahead for the Defence Ministry to develop military bases in the city of Šiauliai and in the districts of Šilalė and Vilnius on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. A total of up to 165 million euros at net present value are planned to be allocated for the military bases, which will house three battalions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Negotiations with potential suppliers will be held at the turn of 2019 and 2020, with contracts to be signed in the fourth quarter of 2020.

President appoints culture minister

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Tuesday, December 18, appointed Mindaugas Kvietkauskas as culture minister, the president’s press service said. Kvietkauskas, a 42-year-old poet and literary scholar, served as director of the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore between 2008 and 2018 and now holds the post of deputy director at the institute. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in early December announced his decision to replace the ministers for culture, education and environment, saying he wanted to give fresh impetus to reforms.

Parliament green-lights purchase of Klaipeda LNGT

The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, December 18, gave the green light for purchasing the Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal’s floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) by late 2024, when the lease contract with Norway’s Hoegh LNG ends. The Seimas passed the respective amendments to the Law on LNG Terminal in a vote of 99 to one with 17 abstentions. Following the approval from the Seimas, the terminal’s operating costs are to be reduced to 43 million euros per year, from the current 66 million euros. The terminal’s costs for the fertilizer manufacturer Achema, Lithuania’s single largest gas consumer, would go down by around 6 million euros annually.


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  1. Bart says:

    What? Worse than Putin?

New force in Riga: excluded party members and independent deputy form a new faction

Deputies excluded from New Conservative Party’s faction in Riga City Council Druvis Kleins and Imants Keišs, as well as independent deputy Oskars Putniņš have decided to found their own faction, as confirmed by deputies.

Researchers expect one-third of Latvians to apply for British citizenship soon

In the next five years, one-third of Latvian citizens who now live in Britain plan to apply for British citizenship, according to a survey performed by researchers of the University of Latvia Institute of Philosophy and Sociology to determine the opinion of Latvian emigrants towards Brexit and its consequences.

Latvia’s prime minister expects minister to explain suspension of Latvenergo council

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš intends to wait until the end of the week for explanations from Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro in regards to the minister’s decision to suspend the council of the country’s energy giant Latvenergo, according to the prime minister’s issued resolution.

Key Turkish election won by opposition bringing change to largest city

In Turkey, the repeated mayoral election of Istanbul has been won by opposition candidate ending 25 years of the rule of the country’s governing AK party in largest city.

Latvia holds third highest growth rate in Europe’s innovation rating

Latvia is reported to have the third highest growth rate in the European Union, growing by 17.7 percentage points in the rating, according to outlooks of Europe’s Innovation Result and Regional Innovation Result.

Kaljulaid on Estonian Victory Day: Natural calamity more likely than warfare

Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid has said in a speech on Estonia’s Victory Day remembering the hundred-year-old War of Independence that despite natural calamities being more likely than warfare in the country, everyone should be informed and prepared to help ensure Estonian.

Latvia’s Sigulda will not host part of 2026 Winter Olympic Games

The 2026 Winter Olympic Games will take place in Italy’s Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, which have won in the competition for the right to host Olympic Games with Sweden, which planned to delegate certain ice sports to Latvia’s Sigulda.

Latvia’s prime minister not prepared to increase country’s budget deficit

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš is not prepared to increase budget deficit to satisfy growing budget requests from ministries. The prime minister says every ministry has provided arguments in favour of increasing funding for their respective sectors from the 2020 state budget.

Washington hits Iran with new sanctions, target’s country’s Supreme Leader

United States President Donald Trump has announced imposing of tough, new sanctions against Iran also on the office of the Middle Eastern country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

As scandals continue in Lithuania Latvian Railway praises company of ex-KGB agent’s wife

Latvian state company Latvian Railway (LDz) has had contracts worth dozens of million euros signed with the company owned by ex-KGB agent Yuri Simonenkov’s wife – SIA Sigmen – since 2005. While in Lithuania dealings with people who may or may not have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin have caused a scandal...

Kazakhstan evacuates thousands of people after blasts at military depot

In Kazakhstan a munitions depot has been hit by a fire and major explosions, resulting in a mass evacuation of a town.

Week in Lithuania: Coalition expansion talks completed, Vilnius University up in global rankings

Last week, four parliamentary parties continued coalition negotiations, two men were sentenced for spying for Russia, Government vowed to reduce shadow income in construction and car sale sectors.

BNN weekly summary: Fall of Turlais, alcohol tit for tat, Latvenergo council sacked

This week a top theme in Latvia and Estonia was the alcohol excise tax. Latest events showed that Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas does not plan to cut the tax rates an further, commenting Latvia’s possible 15%-reduction of liquor excise tax rate.

Estonia not to deepen its U-turn on alcohol excise, after Latvian move

Following Latvian plan to retaliate to Estonia’s sharp drop of its alcohol excise tax rates, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has stated that Tallinn is not going to cut its rates any further.

Dombrovskis gives up MEP mandate to continue in European Commission

Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian politician having led in the European Parliament’s elections the list of New Unity, has decided to give up his mandate of a member of the European Parliament to continue in the European Commission for its remaining term.

Latvian State Audit tasked with damage recovery rights

The Saeima has passed in the final reading amendments to the State Audit Law authorising the public spending watchdog to recover damages from persons responsible for violations of law found during institutional inspections.

Latvia bans Soviet and Nazi uniforms in protests and meetings

The Latvian Saeima has passed in the final reading law amendments that would ban the wearing of the uniforms and elements of the armed forces and repressive institutions’ uniforms of the Soviet Union, its republics and the Nazi Germany.

Proposed EUR 40 mln compensation to Latvian Jewish community retracted

Latvian party alliance Development/For! has retracted its own draft law on the restitution in the amount of 40 million euros to the Latvian Jewish community for real estate confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.

Riga city Mayor Turlais loses post in no-confidence vote

The chairman of the Riga City Council, Dainis Turlais has not survived a no-confidence vote, which lead to him losing the post of the Mayor of the Latvian capital.

Former head of Ventbunkers Ciniņa dismissed for severe violations; court rejects dismissal benefit claim

A court in Latvia has rejected the claim by the ex-head of petroleum product transhipment terminal company Ventbunkers, Eva Ciniņa, to exact from the firm a dismissal benefit of 86 400 euros as she has been dismissed from the post for gross violations of her duties.

Latvia readying 15% alcohol excise rate cut in tit for tat to Estonia

In a measure seen in Riga as provoked unexpectedly by Estonian legislators, the Latvian Saeima has passed in the first reading the plan to cut the alcohol excise duty on liquor by 15%.

Estonian military surveillance plan rejected by Kaljulaid to reach court

Rejected as unconstitutional by the Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid, the plan to expand military surveillance in the country will reach the Estonian Supreme Court in autumn. the President and the Estonian parliament disagree on the provisions of the amended Defence Forces Organisation Law.

Latvia rejects Unmarried Couple’s Law intended for cohabiting partners

The Latvian parliament has on Thursday, June 20, rejected the draft Unmarried Couple’s Law proposed by MPs from the governing New Unity and coalition member Development/For! for the protection of cohabitating unmarried partners.

Lithuania holds fire on alcohol excise as Latvia readies reaction to Estonia’s 25% cut

The much-praised unity of the Baltics in the 1990s has fallen through multiple times over the countries’ independent history and the last blow to it came this month from Estonia, which unilaterally made a 25 percent cut on alcohol excise tax in bid to lure alcoholic beverage lovers from neighbouring countries.

Swedbank not leaving Baltics, says newly appointed chairman Persson

Swedbank shareholders have elected former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson as its new chairman. He has started off by dismissing the possibility of leaving Baltic markets amid investigations.

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