BNN summary of the week: New era in USA. Go for it! Only where? Magonis and Osinovsky come out dry – Baltic News Network


While the International Ice Hockey Federation is busy deciding where to organize the world ice hockey championship, politicians are playing a game of their own, deciding whose gates are deserving of the honour.

Belarus has been stripped of the right to host the world championship. However, Latvia has announced it is prepared to host it instead. Lithuania is also interested in hosting the championship. The country has proposed co-hosting it with Latvia. Even Saeima deputy Mārtiņš Bondars has entered the discussion by proposing the championship to be organized in Riga and Rezekne.

USA, it seems, has entered a new era – the presidency of Joe Biden. On the first day of his presidency, the new ‘captain’ signed a number of orders and cancelled a number of his predecessor Donald Trump’s orders. What kind of outcome can we expect? Time will tell.

After five and a half years-long trial, the first instance court declared the ex-chief of Latvijas dzelzceļš (LDz) Uģis Magonis and Estonian millionaire Oleg Osinovsky not guilty of bribery. The office of the prosecutor is unhappy with this outcome and so plans to appeal the ruling. KNAB, meanwhile, plans to look at the quality of the investigation, adding that the court of higher instance may yet change the ruling.

BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Cheating a pensioner; Babies in Latvia; Ruling; Covid-19; New era in USA; Opposition in Russia; Go for it! But where?.

CHEATING A PENSIONER

Police detain woman involved in court bailiff Veinbergs’ criminal case

Photo: Pixabay

The court has put under arrest some woman who was involved in a criminal process alongside court bailiff Rolands Veinbergs for possible defrauding of a pensioner’s property.

Latvian State Police press-secretary Simona Grāvīte affirmed that the aforementioned woman is suspected of fraud, or committing a serious crime punishable with deprivation of freedom from two to ten years.

Grāvīte did not comment as to why the investigator requested arrest as a security measure. She also did not comment on the person’s involvement and role in the aforementioned criminal process. Information from LETA shows that the person in question is one Kristina Lucenko.

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BABIES IN LATVIA

Number of births in December 2020 declared the lowest of the last century in Latvia

CSP, December, newborns, Latvian residents, marriages, deaths, statistics
Photo: Unsplash

The number of births continues to decrease – 17.5 thousand births were registered in Latvia, which is 1.3 thousand or 6.9 % less than in 2019 (18.8 thousand).

Since July, the number of births has been decreasing every month – in the second half of last year, 11.4 % fewer children were born than in July – December 2019. In December 2020, 1 273 births were registered in the civil status registry offices, which is 17.2 % less than in the corresponding month of the year 2019. This is the lowest number of births in December in the last century, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

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RULING

Court finds ex-LDz head and Estonian millionaire not guilty despite serious charges

not guilty, investigation, Juris Jurašs, KNAB, Russian Railway, bribery, Latvijas Dzelzceļš, LDz, Oleg Osinovsky, first instance, ruling, Uģis Magonis
Estonian millionaire Oļegs Osinovskis (L) and ex-head of Latvijas dzelzceļš Uģis Magonis (R). Photo: Ieva Leiniša/LETA

On Thursday, 21 January, Vidzeme District Court in Limbaži found the ex-chairman of the board of Latvijas dzelzceļš (LDz) Ugis Magonis and Estonian millionaire Oleg Osinovsky not guilty of bribery.

The ruling is subject to appeal in Vidzeme Regional Court. The case was handled by judge Kārlis Jansons.

Press-secretary of the office of the prosecutor Aiga Eiduka said that after studying the ruling the prosecutor will definitely submit a protest.

According to the official charges, in summer 2015 Osinovsky gave Magonis a bribe of about EUR 500 000 in relation to LDz rolling stock service procurement – purchase of old diesel locomotives from Osinovsky’s owned company Skinest Rail. Before its submission to the office of the prosecutor the criminal process was investigated by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB).

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COVID-19

Existing restrictions to remain in Latvia until 7 February; curfew to remain for weekends

2 and 2, 7 February, state of emergency, recoveries, Baltic States, Covid-19, two households, 2 m, Estonia, infected numbers, new Covid-19 variant, new restrictions, quarantine, curfew, coronavirus, Latvia, Lithuania, masks, schools, stay home, pandemic, self-isolation, public events, government restrictions, virus spread
Photo: Evija Trifanova/LETA

On Thursday Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers decided to extend existing epidemiological restrictions until 7 February in order to halt the spread of Covid-19.

For a number of restrictions the end date was originally 25 January. However, now the government has decided to maintain restrictions in place until 7 February.

This means the curfew will remain in force for weekends.

This means residents are not allowed to move about at night from 22:00 until 05:00 between 29 January and 31 January and 5 February and 7 February. During the curfew residents are ordered to stay home and avoid interactions with other people – avoid hosting guests and visiting others.

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NEW ERA IN USA

Trump gives farewell speech, Biden arrives for inauguration

US, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, presidency, politics
The sun sets near the White House on the final night of Donald Trump’s presidency, ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/SCANPIX

In the US, on Wednesday, January 20, the transfer of power between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as presidents takes place. The change of presidency also means the change of the US federal government, British broadcaster BBC reports.

«Our agenda was not about right or left, it wasn’t about Republican or Democrat, but about the good of a nation, and that means the whole nation,» Trump said in a farewell speech published on YouTube.

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OPPOSITION IN RUSSIA

MEPs request sanctions against Russian officials involved in Navalny’s arrest

Alexei Navalny, prison, human rights, MEPs, EU sanctions, constitution, Russian, opposition, Vladimir Putin
MEPs listening to Alexei Navalny’s speech. Photo: EPA/Scanpix

During debates European Parliament members issued a strong condemnation of Alexei Navalny’s arrest and urged the EU to expand sanctions against Russian officials, including on the list those who are involved in it, as BNN was told by European Parliament’s press-secretary in Latvia Jānis Krastiņš.

During debates held with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Joseph Borrell on Tuesday, 19 January, MEPs urged Russian authorities to immediately release Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, stressing that his arrest and the way it was done was in breach of international law and the Russian Constitution.

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GO FOR IT! BUT WHERE?

Lukashenko’s Belarus stripped of Ice Hockey World Championship

Belarus, ice hockey, IIHF, Latvia, Alexander Lukashenko
Alexander Lukashenko playing ice hockey, Photo: AP/SCANPIX

The International Ice Hockey Federation has decided to annul its decision to trust Belarus with holding a part of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship, citing participant welfare and safety reasons, US broadcaster Radio Free Europe reports.

The January 18 announcement comes amid mounting pressure from co-host Latvia, other European countries and sponsors for Belarus to be stripped of its role as co-host of the tournament in May-June because of an ongoing crackdown by authorities following a disputed election in 2020.

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