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Ceturtdiena 21.06.2018 | Name days: Monvīds, Egita, Emīls
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Author: AFP/SCANPIXThe Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) has appointed Deputy Culture Minister Agneta Lobačevskytė as the head of the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.

The candidate was proposed by the Seimas’ Chairwoman Loreta Graužinienė. As many as 61 MPs supported the candidacy in the voting, with 32 MPs voting against with 12 abstentions. Some of the Lithuanian lawmakers praised Lobačevskyte for her professionalism, being a young, promising and career woman, while others insisted in the debates she lacked experience and authority.

Parliament has also appointed Edita Žiobienė for her second term of office as Ombudsperson for Children’s Rights. During a secret vote on Thursday, June 18, Žiobienė was supported by 86 MPs, 16 MPs were against with four abstentions.

Lithuania opens second Honorary Consulate in Georgia

Lithuania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevičius and his counterpart of Georgia, Tamar Beruchashvili, opened a Honorary Consulate of Lithuania. It will be headed by Georgian businessman, Honorary Consul Temur Ustiashvili with jurisdiction over Adjara, Guria and Megrelia.

«Representatives of various Lithuanian institutions and businesses take a great interest in and visit western Georgia; there is also a continuing trend of growing number of tourists. We hope that the opening of the Lithuanian diplomatic mission in Batumi will also contribute to the strengthening of the close economic cooperation between our two countries, to the establishing of new contacts between cities and communities, and that more Georgian citizens will become interested in Lithuania and come to visit our country,» said Linkevičius. The first Honorary Consulate of Lithuania in Georgia was opened in 2010 in Tbilisi. It is headed by Boris Gamrekeli.

US-born analyst: Putin will not risk nuclear war

Weighing in on American media reports that the United States was planning to deploy heavy weaponry in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, including Lithuania, Kęstutis Girnius, a US-born political analyst, told Laisvoji Banga, a Lithuanian radio TV station, that this will certainly raise tensions.

«We’ve already heard reactions from the Russians who said this was the most dangerous step since the end of the Cold War. They started talking about deploying additional forces: artillery, aviation. Iskander missiles were said to be quickly moved and positioned in the Kaliningrad Region, perhaps even loaded with tactical nuclear weapons. There have been unequivocal statements about changes in the Russian forces stationed in Belarus. I will be interested to see how (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko will take these novelties: will he resist or not?..There will definitely be more tension, no reason to kid ourselves about that. On the other hand, one must note that it was Russia that provoked these actions. Not only with its policies in Ukraine, but also with its aircrafts (violating the NATO air space defence) and rather aggressive moves of its armed forces, aimed at demonstrating to the world its power and comeback. NATO is reacting rather than acting. But during his visit in Italy last week, Vladimir Putin said that it was Russia that’s reacting. He said that the United States had a military budget in excess of those of all other countries combined. NATO military budget is ten times what the Russian Federation spends on defence. It was NATO, Putin said, that was expanding and encroaching on Russia’s borders, not vice versa. He said that the Russians were only reacting to America’s actions. It is true that America spends twice or five times more on defence than anyone else, I will not argue with that. America is rearming – and always more intensely than other countries, even though China and Russia are currently stepping up their rearmament, too. On the other hand, Russia has always been very negative about NATO’s expansion, insisting that as long as NATO expands, there is greater likelihood that enemy forces will be deployed close to the Russian border. Historically, Russia has always defended itself by retreating inside itself. So the closer NATO forces are to Russia, the more uneasy it feels,» said Girnius, noting that the Russian President «will not risk nuclear war».

Saber Strike 2015 demo operation performed in Lithuania

A demo military operation was executed in the Gaižiūnai training ground, central Lithuania, on Thursday, June 18, in the framework of NATO’s Saber Strike 2015 exercise, observed by Lithuania’s president and generals of NATO countries.

«It is a very important exercise – development of the implementation of the Wales agreement, we see that the NATO partners are meeting their commitments, we are also (meeting) our commitments, we are boosting our defence capacities and our abilities, qualifications and possibilities to cooperate with and work with armies of our partners. The interaction is successful, we have been equal partners for years and I can only applaud that Lithuania is becoming a serious partner rather than a stretched out hand amid the accelerating quality of our armament, emergence of new equipment and new weapons,» Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė told journalists in Gaižiūnai.

During the event, the guests were introduced to the military equipment and weaponry used by Lithuanian and Allied troops in the exercise, as well as the results of the training.

Lithuania launches website for expatriates

A special website – www.renkuosilietuva.lt – for expatriates launched in Lithuania, will provide all necessary information about the country and its municipalities «at any time of the day,» Lithuanian PM Algirdas Butkevičius says.

The Lithuanian prime minister says the initiative is necessary as state institutions are receiving a growing number of inquiries from expatriates about possibilities to get employment in Lithuania, start a business, receive education, etc.

«Our goal was to create conditions for a person, who just had a thought about Lithuania, to be able to receive all information at any time of the day on things they want, including employment and business opportunities in any municipality, ways to receive assistance for starting a business, house and land prices, education, distances to medical establishments, military service, citizenship and many other issues,» the prime minister said during the presentation of the website on Tuesday, June 16.

Prosecutor seeks 6-year imprisonment for Labour Party’s Honorary Chairman

Prosecutor Saulius Verseckas from the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office said at the Court of Appeals on Thursday, June 18, that the Labour Party’s founder and, now, an euro-parliamentarian Viktor Uspaskich should be sentenced to six years, while MP Vytautas Gapšys and Marina Liutkevičienė should receive respective conditional sentences of 18 months and one year.

The prosecutor also suggested that the Labour Party should be imposed a fine of about 376,000 euros. The history dates back to July 2013, when a Vilnius court sentenced Uspaskich to four years in prison for shady bookkeeping, while MP Vitalija Vonžutaitė was sentenced to three years.

MP Vytautas Gapšys was imposed a fine of over 10,000 euros and the party’s former bookkeeper Marina Liutkevičienė received a sentence of one year in prison. Charges against the Labour Party as a legal entity were dropped after it merged with a sister party, effectively forming a new entity. An appeal against the verdict was filed with the Court of Appeals, and the ruling will not take effect until the Court of Appeals hands down its verdict in the case.

More Lithuanian citizens being recruited by foreign secret services

Attempts to recruit Lithuanian citizens by foreign secret services, as well as cyber spying incidents, are intensifying, Darius Jauniškis, director general of Lithuania’s State Security Department (VSD), says.

«We are dealing with a growing number of attempts to recruit our citizens, and very often targets include people going to Russia or Belarus who, roughly speaking, are even terrorized on the border in some cases. Cyber spying is also intensifying very much,» Jauniškis said during a discussion on national security issues, taking place in the Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, June 18.

He also asked lawmakers to allot more funding for intelligence institutions. «As a former military man, I can say that it’s very important to arm ourselves but as any army, any person without eyes and knowledge would be helpless, and intelligence institutions are the ones which can see and predict the enemy’s actions and help the country to better prepare for state defence… I would like you to pay more attention and support increasing funding to intelligence institutions,» Jauniškis said.

The Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence has also been calling for giving more funds to the VSD which is set to receive 23.6 million euro this year, just as it did last year.

Seimas committee chair stands for indefinite conscription return

Artūras Paulauskas, chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, has proposed discussing the possibility to restore conscription for an indefinite period of time.

Speaking at a discussion in the Seimas on national security issues, Paulauskas expressed his opinion that the existing political decision to restore conscription for five years was insufficient.

«Conscription helps to address the army reserve problem…That determination should remain and, I think, for more than five years. Let’s discuss whether we need conscripts only for five years. As chairman of this committee, I can say that we need more time, and probably even an indefinite period,» Paulauskas said.

Lithuania plans to conscript 3,000 men this year.

Lithuania to spend 1.46 percent of GDP on defence next year

Lithuania plans to spend 1.46 percent of its GDP on defence next year, the country’s Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas says.

Such a share is stipulated in the 2016 budget bill the initial version of which is currently being deliberated by the government, the minister said during a discussion on security issues in the parliament on Thursday, June 18.

«We made the commitment in the political parties’ agreement to increase defence spending to 2 percent by 2020. I am glad that this part of the agreement is being implemented. We had 0.77 percent GDP in 2013 and plan to increase it to 1.46 percent GDP based on the initial version of the budget bill which is now being discussed by the Cabinet. So it’s double what we had in 2013,» Olekas said.

Sculptures in Vilnius will «talk»

A cultural-educational project dubbed «Talking Statues of Vilnius» will be launched in Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius Square in central Vilnius.

It’s an interactive project that will give Vilnius residents and guest the opportunity to «receive calls» to their smartphones from Vilnius Downtown statues which will speak Lithuanian and English and several of them will speak Ukrainian, French and Yiddish, Vilnius Municipality said on Thursday, June 18.

Every sculpture will have its distinctive voice «borrowed» from famous Lithuanian artists, singers, actors and other well-known personalities. The texts for the sculpture have also been written by famous Lithuanian people. A similar idea has already been implemented in London, Manchester and Copenhagen.

Lithuanian President: Midsummer festival symbolizes bond between Baltic and Nordic peoples

President Dalia Grybauskaitė took part in the Nordic Baltic Midsummer celebration at the Vilnius University Botanical Garden in Kairėnai – a traditional calendar festival observed together by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway for the third consecutive year.

«The Nordic and Baltic countries are an excellent example of strong regional cooperation. We are bound by common values, traditions, culture. The Midsummer festival – known as Joninės in Lithuania – is the best proof of this. It has become a much-awaited community event, highlighting the strong bond between our nations,» the President said.
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Lithuania’s blood plasma corruption scandal extends to Latvia

The former head of Lithuania‘s National Blood Centre, suspected of corruption and involvement in unlicenced activity, received more bad news this week from Latvia, where investigators of the Lithuanian Special Investigation Service had questioned the Latvian Health minister, Anda Čakša.

Administrative burden to be reduced for foreign students and researchers

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Latvian Economy Minister endures no-confidence vote

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Pope Francis’ visit to Latvia will be a national holiday

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ICT specialist numbers in Latvia are below Europe’s average level

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Hungary adopts prison sentence for helping migrants

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Harmony plans turning to Constitutional Court to prevent transition to Latvian language in schools

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Deputies detained in KPV LV criminal case not declared suspects yet

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Production of mines and grenades planned in Estonia

As the Estonian parliament has adopted new rules on military arms and ammunition production in the country, local defence firm Eesti Arsenal has voiced its plan to build a factory in Estonia to make military explosives.

Total tax debts in Latvia reached EUR 1.224 billion in June

At the beginning of June, total tax debts in Latvia, including topical, halted debts and extended repayment terms were equal to EUR 1.233 billion, which is 0.6% less compared to May, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Switch off internet nationwide during exams – Algerian approach

In an attempt to prevent cheating during secondary school exams, the north African nation Algeria, has turned off internet in its whole territory.

Control Service proposes kicking out shell companies as intensely as offshore companies

Shell companies in Latvia should be combated with the same intensity once shown to offshore companies, says chief of Anti-Money Laundering Service Ilze Znotiņa.

EU imposes tariffs on blue jeans, motorcycles and other U.S. export goods

The European Union will introduce retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports on Friday, EU Trade Commissioner has stated a top official has stated in the bloc's reaction to Washington imposing steep duties on steel and aluminium earlier in June.

Latvia’s Saeima proposes improving job-combining rules for state officials

On Wednesday, 20 June, Latvian parliament’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee decided to submit for review amendments to the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials.

Ukraine's anti-corruption court law insufficient to IMF commitments

The International Monetary Fund has commended the Ukrainian parliament for passing a law to establish an anti-corruption court and pointed to need to amend it to ensure the court can work effectively.

Opinion: they’re trying to shut us up; KPV LV is inconvenient for current government

«We are inconvenient for the current government, the established order, because for the first time a party is prepared to use facts in its rhetoric in the pre-election period. They are trying to shut us up,» said KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems at a press-conference after Artuss Kaimiņš was taken away by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Hydro and wind power plants produced 70.5% more electricity last year

In 2017 gross energy consumption in Latvia comprised 194.9 petajoules, which is 5.5 % more than in 2016. Over the past five years, the gross energy consumption has not changed significantly. However the share of renewable energy has increased by 2.55 percentage points.

Milder penalties for the accused in digital TV case; idea’s authors get no prison sentence

Riga Regional Court has released a shortened ruling in the so-called digital television criminal case. With it, the court acquitted previously convicted former director of Latvia’s National Theatre Ojārs Rubenis. Nevertheless, some of the accused have been sentenced to fines and actual prison time.

Estonian traitor Simm ruled to serve full 12.5 years in prison

A court in Tartu has decided that the Estonian Defence Ministry ex-official Herman Simm, found guilty of treason in 2009 and sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, has to serve his full sentence, not to be released earlier.

CPCB officers detain Kaimiņš after Saeima meeting

Officers of Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau detained Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš after the end of the parliament’s meeting.

Around 15% of Estonian 15-19-year-olds estimated to have mental illness

In Estonia, an estimated total of 20,000-40,000 adolescents, comprising 10-20% of all teenage Estonians, have been found to suffer from a mental illness and close to 3,000 children have been prescribed antidepressants.

Chief: Anti-Money Laundering Service should not submit to a single person

Anti-Money Laundering Service should not be controlled by a single person, says chief of the Control Service Ilze Znotiņa.

Saeima permits commencement of criminal process against Artuss Kaimiņš

This week Latvia’s Saeima voted in favour of the decision to detain and then perform a search in the home of Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš from KPV LV political party.

U.S. withdraws from UN Human Rights Council voicing sharp criticism

The U.S. has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the body as being politically biased and not working towards reducing human rights violations globally.