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Linas Jegelevicius

Kaunas, Lithuania
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About Linas
Linas Jegelevicius is a journalist based in Klaipeda, Lithuania, also available for work in capital city Vilnius and in Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city. Having spent 10 years in the US, Linas is proficient in English and as the proof of this is his current position as editor-in-chief of The Baltic Times newspaper, the longest-running English language print publication in the Baltics (www.baltictimes.com). Linas freelances for over 10 different English language publications worldwide and has taken on deep research-requiring due diligence jobs in Lithuania and Latvia. After spending 20 years in the journalism/PR/due diligence sector he boasts dozens high-profile contacts in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. He's also been a valuable fixer for Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and other publications.
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Kallas looks for an international way out as domestic sharks circle

16 Nov 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is facing domestic political challenges as her popularity declines due to proposed tax rises and her perceived hypocrisy regarding sanctions against Moscow. The far-right EKRE party and Kallas' former allies, the rightwing Isamaa party, are rallying against her, with talks of a no-confidence motion. Despite her strong international reputation for supporting Ukraine and advocating for tough stances against Russia, her domestic standing has weakened, with her Reform Party falling behind in popularity. The Estonian economy is struggling with recession and high inflation, and the government's fiscal policies are under scrutiny. Some believe the government's approach to the budget deficit is necessary, while others criticize the lack of intervention during the energy crisis and the impact of tax rises on lower-income families.

Russian and Chinese ships being investigated over Balticconnector damage

23 Oct 2023  |  intellinews.com
Finnish and Estonian authorities are investigating damage to infrastructure in the Baltic Sea, potentially caused by sabotage. The Finnish police suspect mechanical impact rather than an explosion damaged the Balticconnector gas pipeline and a subsea cable. Ships, including a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship and two Russian ships, are under scrutiny. Estonia confirmed human action caused damage to a Finnish company's telecommunications cable. Sweden also reported similar damage. Russia denies involvement, while NATO discussed increasing Baltic Sea patrols. No direct accusations have been made against Russia, but suspicions persist.

Yesterday’s Belarussian heroes become today’s foes in Lithuania

Nordic banks hit by new money laundering scandal in the Baltic states

13 Oct 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Billions of euros from suspicious sources have been moved through the Baltic branches of Nordic banks Nordea and DNB, with at least €3.9bn tied to money laundering. Internal investigation reports leaked to the media revealed suspect money transfers connected to Nordea branches in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as Luminor Bank. Nordea and DNB have not provided detailed comments, while Luminor reported suspicious transfers to authorities. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is involved in the investigation.

Baltic companies still trading extensively with Russia

05 Oct 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Baltic companies continue to trade extensively with Russia in unsanctioned goods despite their governments' opposition to Russian aggression. Trade turnover with Russia has decreased in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, but some companies still maintain business ties. Sigitas Besagirskas of the Vilnius Association of Industry and Business criticizes this trade as amoral and highlights the role of intermediaries in bypassing sanctions. The Lithuanian and Latvian ministries acknowledge the trade but emphasize that it is up to businesses to assess their risks. Other European countries, like Slovenia and Luxembourg, have increased their trade with Russia, raising moral concerns.

Ukraine aims to speed up grain exports via Lithuanian

03 Oct 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Ukraine plans to expedite grain and farm product exports through a new agreement with Lithuania and Poland, shifting border checks to the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. This move aims to streamline transit through Poland, although Ukraine continues to seek alternative export routes due to the blockade of its Black Sea ports. Relations with Poland remain strained over import restrictions, and Ukraine's food export volumes have recently declined. The deal is supported by the agriculture ministers of Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania.

Ukraine aims to speed up grain exports via Lithuanian-Poland deal

03 Oct 2023  |  intellinews.com
Ukraine is set to expedite grain and farm product exports through a new deal that moves some border checks from the Poland frontier to Lithuania's Klaipeda port. This change, which will see veterinary and sanitary checks conducted at Klaipeda, aims to hasten transit through Poland. Despite this development, Ukraine continues to seek alternative export routes due to the blockade of its Black Sea ports since Russia's invasion. The war has significantly impacted Ukraine's export capabilities, with a recent drop in food exports and grain shipments. The Ukrainian agriculture ministry announced the agreement after discussions with Polish and Lithuanian ministers, amidst strained relations with Warsaw over Polish import restrictions.

Estonian PM Kallas fends off accusations over husband’s alleged Russia business ties

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins set to benefit from hardline stance on Ukraine war

01 Oct 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Latvia's upcoming election is dominated by the cost of living crisis and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins's New Unity Party is predicted to be in a strong position to form a new administration, benefiting from its hardline stance on Russia. Despite high inflation and energy prices, the government has subsidized tariffs for poorer Latvians. The election is expected to result in a highly fractured parliament with multiple parties needing to form a coalition. Support for the traditionally Russian-favored Harmony party has collapsed, and there is widespread voter apathy.

IMF cuts Latvian growth forecast for next year by 1.5pp to 2.5%

01 Oct 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised Latvia's economic growth forecast for next year down to 2.5%, a reduction of 1.5 percentage points from its previous estimate. Despite resilience to the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Latvia's economy faces vulnerabilities, particularly from trade exposure to Russia and high dependence on imported Russian gas. The IMF highlights the impact of international sanctions, spikes in energy and food prices, and the influx of Ukrainian refugees. Inflation is expected to remain high at 14.5% in 2022 but should ease in the medium term. The IMF advises Latvia to focus on risk-based approaches, stress tests, and contingency plans, while also addressing corporate equity gaps and supporting SMEs. The declining population and workforce shortages are seen as long-term growth constraints, with targeted labor market policies and business environment reforms recommended.

Latvian president instructs ruling New Unity's Silina to form new government

24 Aug 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics has tasked Welfare Minister Evika Silina with forming a new government following the resignation of Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. Silina, the nominee from the ruling New Unity party, will begin negotiations with potential coalition partners, including the United List, National Alliance, Progressives, and Union of Greens and Farmers. The goal is to establish the new government by mid-September. Karins resigned after failing to expand his coalition, citing obstruction from current partners. Opposition factions have shown support for a New Unity-led government, while existing coalition members have varying stances on the inclusion of new parties.

Karins to step down as Latvian prime minister

14 Aug 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced his resignation after failing to expand his coalition government. He cited obstruction by coalition partners as the reason for his decision. Karins had been attempting to include the Union of Greens and Farmers and the Progressives in the coalition, but talks broke down. His resignation will lead to the entire cabinet stepping down, paving the way for a new government. The New Unity party plans to select a new prime minister candidate. The coalition's unity had been strained by disagreements, including the selection of the president. Karins emphasized the need for a broader, more dynamic government for the country's development.

Latvian PM sets eyes on new coalition after talks fail with current partners

Poland now says it will deploy 10,000 troops to Belarus border

10 Aug 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Poland will deploy 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus to support the Border Guard, with 4,000 directly assisting and 6,000 in reserve, as announced by Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak. This move aims to deter potential aggression from Belarus, which has seen an influx of Wagner Group mercenaries. Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wąsik previously stated that 2,000 additional troops would be sent to the border. The deployment follows increased illegal border crossings from Belarus, primarily by migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Belarus continues military exercises near the border, with President Alexander Lukashenko claiming to restrain Wagner fighters from attacking Poland.

Estonia to punish companies that chop down forests to make way for construction

01 Aug 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
The Estonian government, as part of its coalition agreement, plans to tax deforestation and may require companies to plant new forests to replace cleared ones. The Ministry of Climate is working on the specifics, with details expected by autumn. The policy aims to support nature conservation and climate targets by maintaining forested land and its carbon sequestration capabilities. The Estonian Private Forest Union supports the tax plan, suggesting that revenue should benefit surrounding landowners affected by wildlife displacement. Annually, Estonia sees an average deforestation of 1,500 hectares, primarily for construction and road expansion.

How Vilnius became the safest yet emptiest capital

11 Jul 2023  |  intellinews.com
Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, has implemented extensive security measures ahead of a NATO summit, resulting in it becoming the world's safest yet emptiest capital. The city is hosting 48 foreign delegations, including US President Joe Biden, and has deployed up to 12,000 personnel for security. Residents are avoiding the city center due to restrictions, and local businesses are impacted, with some closing and others preparing for the influx of guests. The Lithuanian government faces criticism for the high costs of services for the summit, with some contracts significantly exceeding service providers' annual incomes. Despite this, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda believes the investment will enhance Lithuania's international image and attract future tourism.

Amnesty International issues damning report on Lithuania’s migration centres

27 Jun 2023  |  intellinews.com
Amnesty International released a report accusing Lithuania of detaining thousands of migrants in militarized centres under inhumane conditions, including torture and ill-treatment, with the aim of coercing 'voluntary' returns. The report contrasts the treatment of migrants from Africa and the Middle East with the welcoming of Ukrainian refugees, suggesting institutional racism. It details allegations of racism, violent pushbacks, and sexual violence, and criticizes the legal aid system as conflicted. Lithuania's pushback policy and the EU's response, ranging from praise to tacit endorsement, were also condemned. Amnesty recommends halting pushbacks, releasing detainees, and providing proper healthcare and legal support. The Lithuanian government offers migrants €1,000 to return home and considers allowing rejected asylum seekers to work within the country.

Levits will not seek second term as Latvian president

11 May 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Latvian President Egils Levits announced he will not seek a second term in the upcoming presidential elections, citing concerns over a coalition of pro-Kremlin and oligarch-linked political forces. This decision potentially paves the way for Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, who has been nominated by the New Unity party. Businessman Uldis Pilens and public governance expert Elina Pinto are also in the running. Levits' withdrawal appears to strengthen Rinkevics' candidacy, who is noted for his extensive experience and international respect, despite lacking charisma. The political landscape is further complicated by the need for coalition unity and the influence of external factors such as Russia's war against Ukraine.

New Estonian government reveals tax plans, including income tax cut for the rich

27 Apr 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
The Estonian Ministry of Finance has unveiled a new tax plan that includes a cut in taxes for higher-paid workers, a 2 percentage point increase in the overall income tax rate, a rise in VAT, and increased excise duties. The plan aims to address a €1.7 billion deficit in the public sector, partly due to soaring defense spending. The proposed changes are expected to have a mixed fiscal impact, with some measures like the VAT hike and excise duties on alcohol and tobacco expected to generate additional revenue, while others like the income tax changes may negatively affect the state budget. The coalition aims to pass these changes before Midsummer Day to implement them next year.

Estonia’s ruling Reform party leads election count

05 Mar 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Estonia's ruling Reform Party leads the general election with 31.9% of the votes, followed by the far-right Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) with 15.8%. The Centre Party, Estonia 200, Social Democratic Party (SDE), and Isamaa also secured significant votes. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas expressed gratitude for the support, while EKRE's Martin Helme and Mart Helme questioned the e-vote results, alleging dishonesty and vowing to seek justice. The election results indicate a strong performance by the Reform Party, securing 38 seats in the Riigikogu.

Estonia’s far-right EKRE party should not be written off

03 Mar 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
Estonia's far-right Conservative People's Party (EKRE) is gaining ground against the ruling liberal Reform Party ahead of the general election. EKRE, led by Martin Helme, could form a coalition with the Centre Party and Isamaa, potentially shifting Estonia's stance on Ukraine and aligning more with Hungary's policies. Despite EKRE's controversial positions, including Euroscepticism and anti-immigration rhetoric, its popularity remains high due to economic concerns and effective local outreach. Analysts suggest that while the Reform Party still has a strong chance of forming the next government, EKRE's influence cannot be dismissed.

BaltCap manager suspected of embezzling and gambling away up to €30m

06 Feb 2023  |  www.intellinews.com
A manager at investment fund BaltCap, Sarunas Stepukonis, is suspected of embezzling and gambling away up to €30 million, exposing significant supervision loopholes in the fund, banking, and gambling industries. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has announced an international search for Stepukonis, who may be in Ukraine. The alleged fraud has raised questions about BaltCap's safeguards and the oversight capabilities of financial and gambling regulators. The scandal has also impacted the pension funds of SEB and Swedbank, and has led to scrutiny of the role of Olympic Casino Group Baltija in the affair.

Russia’s independent news outlet Meduza reinvents itself again

10 Oct 2022  |  intellinews.com
Meduza.io, an independent Russian and English language news website based in Riga since 2014, has faced significant challenges after being labeled a foreign agent by Russian authorities and the onset of the war in Ukraine. The designation severely impacted their business model, leading to an 80% loss in income. Meduza.io responded by launching successful crowdfunding campaigns, both within Russia and internationally, allowing them to continue operations despite having to evacuate staff and cut expenses. They have not experienced harassment in Riga, but remain cautious due to the presence of Russian opposition media and potential threats to their associates in Russia. Meduza.io's readership has shifted due to the block in Russia, with increased importance on their English language version. Katerina Abramova, head of Meduza.io Communications, reflects on the sensitive topic of Soviet-era monuments in Latvia and the travel ban for Russian citizens, expressing a nuanced view on the impact of these measures. Despite personal longing for home, Abramova is skeptical about a quick regime change in Russia and does not foresee Meduza.io returning to Russia soon.

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins set to form second government

03 Oct 2022  |  www.intellinews.com
Latvia's New Unity Party, led by Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, is poised to form the next government after winning 19% of the vote in the recent general elections. Despite the Union of Greens and Farmers securing the second-largest number of mandates, they are likely to be excluded from the new cabinet due to their association with Aivars Lembergs. The potential coalition could include the United List and the National Alliance, with discussions ongoing about incorporating the Progressives Party. The new government will face significant challenges, including addressing the cost-of-living crisis, ensuring energy supplies, and maintaining national security. Voter turnout was higher than in the previous three elections.

Poland sends more troops to Belarusian border

02 Aug 2022  |  intellinews.com
Poland has dispatched additional troops to the Belarusian border following an airspace violation by two Belarusian military helicopters. The incident occurred during Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's visit to a border village. The Polish Defence Ministry summoned the Belarusian charge d'affaires for an explanation, while the Belarusian Defence Ministry denied the violation, calling it a fabrication by Poland to justify a military buildup. Lithuania's Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has chosen not to disclose the country's border security measures.

Lithuania braces for Russian retaliation over Kaliningrad sanctions

23 Jun 2022  |  intellinews.com
Lithuania has implemented EU sanctions on transit trade between Russia and its exclave of Kaliningrad, leading to a ban on the transport of certain goods. Russia views this as a violation of a 2002 agreement, while Lithuania and the EU consider the sanctions to supersede prior agreements due to Russia's war against Ukraine. Moscow has threatened a non-diplomatic response, and the EU and NATO are expected to discuss the situation and reaffirm support for Lithuania. The United States has also expressed firm support. Security analysts doubt a full-scale military response from Russia, suggesting a prolonged spat instead. Lithuania has prepared for potential retaliatory actions such as being cut from the regional power grid. The Kaliningrad region estimates that 40%-50% of transit cargoes are banned, affecting various goods. Lithuania maintains that transit has not been blocked and that non-sanctioned goods continue to be transported. The EU is reviewing the list of prohibited goods to ensure accuracy. Lithuania faces domestic criticism for its handling of the situation and its strategic communications.

Russia demands end to Kaliningrad transit restrictions

21 Jun 2022  |  www.intellinews.com
Russia demands Lithuania lift the ban on rail transit of certain goods to Kaliningrad, citing violations of a 2002 Russia-EU agreement. Lithuania asserts the ban aligns with EU sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine. Both nations' foreign ministries exchanged diplomatic notes, with Lithuania emphasizing the sanctions are EU-imposed, not unilateral. Lithuanian officials and the EU's foreign policy chief refuted claims of a blockade, maintaining that non-sanctioned goods and passenger transit continue.

Nordic banks hit by new money laundering scandal in the Baltic states

14 Jun 2022  |  www.intellinews.com
Billions of euros from suspicious sources have been moved through Baltic branches of Nordic banks Nordea and Norway's DNB, with ties to money laundering. Leaked internal investigation reports implicate Nordea branches in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luminor Bank, established by Nordea and DNB. Luminor, now controlled by Blackstone, had suspicions of employee involvement in money laundering. Nordea and DNB have not commented on specifics, while Nordea confirmed conducting two audits with no shortcomings found. In 2018, Nordea's then CEO Caspar von Koskull reported no money laundering issues in the Baltics.

Estonian coalition negotiations to start between Reform, Isamaa and the Social Democrats

13 Jun 2022  |  intellinews.com
Estonia is poised to form a new government led by the Reform Party after Isamaa indicated it would join negotiations with Reform and the Social Democrats, rather than with the Centre Party. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas had ousted the Centre Party from the ruling coalition over disagreements on a family benefits bill. Isamaa's chairman, Helir-Valdor Seeder, stated that while Isamaa supports the family benefits bill and suggests freezing the Estonian-Russian border agreement, they have not committed to forming a government yet but hope the negotiations will be fruitful. Kallas welcomed Isamaa's decision to negotiate, emphasizing the need for a government that can navigate crises and ensure security and economic stability. Meanwhile, Jaanus Karilaid of the Centre Party suggested that the Reform Party might agree with Isamaa's family benefits bill and predicted a shift in Estonian politics.

Coronavirus: China’s Huawei helps provide face masks to Lithuania, where it’s eyed 5G

29 Mar 2020  |  South China Morning Post
Chinese tech giant Huawei, in partnership with Lithuanian communications company Bite and charter airline KlasJet, has donated 20,000 protective masks and 120,000 pairs of gloves to Lithuania to combat the coronavirus. This aid, though relatively small, highlights the role of major Chinese tech companies in sourcing protective gear amid a global shortage. Huawei, which has faced scrutiny in Europe over security concerns related to its 5G equipment, is among several tech giants contributing to pandemic relief efforts. The Lithuanian government is also importing significant quantities of protective equipment from China. The Chinese embassy in Lithuania praised the aid as a symbol of international solidarity, while other Chinese entities, including the Jack Ma Foundation, are providing similar support globally.

TWINO: The Rise of P2P Lending

09 Aug 2017  |  Nordic Business Forum
The article discusses the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in Europe, focusing on the Latvian company TWINO. Founded in 2009, TWINO has become a significant player in the P2P lending market, connecting investors with borrowers through its platforms. Jevgeņijs Kazaņins, TWINO Investment Platform lead, highlights the company's success, its innovative approach to lending, and the high returns offered to investors. TWINO's competitive edge includes investor protection guarantees and the ability to operate in multiple markets, including Russia. Despite the lack of regulatory measures for P2P lending in Latvia, TWINO has managed to thrive and is looking forward to further growth in a market that is still small compared to traditional banking.

TWINO: The Rise of P2P Lending

09 Aug 2017  |  Nordic Business Forum
The article discusses the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in Europe, focusing on the Latvian company TWINO. Founded in 2009, TWINO has become a significant player in the P2P lending market, connecting investors with borrowers through its platforms. Jevgeņijs Kazaņins, TWINO Investment Platform lead, highlights the company's success, its innovative approach to lending, and the high returns offered to investors. TWINO's competitive edge includes investor protection guarantees and the ability to operate in multiple markets, including Russia. Despite the lack of regulatory measures for P2P lending in Latvia, TWINO has managed to thrive and is looking forward to further growth in a market that is still small compared to traditional banking.

Estonia's Digital State: The Success of E-Residency and the Future of E-Governance

07 Aug 2017  |  Nordic Business Forum
The article discusses Estonia's pioneering digital transformation, focusing on its e-Residency program. Taavi Kotka, Estonia's former Chief Information Officer and co-founder of the e-Residency project, explains that e-Residency provides a digital identity to anyone globally, allowing them to run a location-independent business online. The program offers numerous benefits, such as the ability to digitally sign documents and access secure services. With over 18,000 e-Residents, mostly non-EU, the program aims to expand Estonia's digital population and business connections. Kotka addresses skepticism about the program's financial benefits, emphasizing its success in attracting businesses and increasing tax revenue. The article also touches on Estonia's no-legacy policy in IT systems and Kotka's current endeavors post-government.

Interview with Karl- Heinz Lamberts, the new president of the Committee of Regions of the European Union.

How lack of sex ed dooms local gays to homophobic attacks in Lithuanian schools

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