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Sunday 02.10.2016 | Name days: Skaidris, Ilma
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Week in Lithuania. Alcohol buyers to be IDed from autumn

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Beginning this fall, anyone purchasing alcohol in Lithuania will have to show their ID. The Ministry of Health and Lithuanian retailers have signed a memorandum that will set tighter restrictions on buying alcohol. The good-will memorandum has been signed by Lithuania’s largest retail chains and by the Cooperative Union, which unites a number of smaller stores.

As Lithuanian Retail Company Association executive director Laurynas Vilimas explains, beginning in autumn, all people buying alcohol in stores will have to show identification documents regardless of their age. Last year, 732 people died in Lithuania due to alcohol, according to Lithuania’s Hygiene Institute.

Seimas bars full privatization of ammunition plant

The Parliament has included the small arms ammunition manufacturer Giraites Ginkluotes Gamykla (Giraite Armament Factory, or GGG) in the list of enterprises of strategic importance for national security, which means that the government will not be able to fully privatize the company. The Seimas on Thursday, Juny 30, passed the respective amendment in a vote of 71 to one with three abstentions. The Giraite plant was previously on a list of enterprises of lower importance for national security. It was proposed to privatize GGG, which owed 13.636 million euros to the Finance Ministry last year, because of its debts. Since 2006, GGG has been selling more than 90 percent of its products to the armed forces, special services and other institutions of NATO and other countries.

CIA flights were not related to detained prisoners

The Lithuanian government told the European Court of Human Rights in a suspected secret CIA prison case that what CIA-linked aircraft transported to Lithuania a decade ago was not prisoners, but communications equipment for an intelligence support centre that was being set up close to Vilnius. According to Deputy Justice Minister Paulius Griciūnas, it was communications equipment for a joint technical support project carried out by the State Security Department (VSD) with partners. CIA-linked flights landed in Lithuania in 2005 and 2006.

Ceiling on employer Social Security contributions approved

The Seimas has greenlit reforms of the social security system that provides for introducing a ceiling on social insurance contributions. The ceiling on employees’ contributions to the state social insurance fund Sodra would be set at 120 average monthly wages per year, or around 7,48 euro per month from 2017. That limit would gradually be lowered to 108 in the second year, 96 in the third year, 84 in the fourth year, 72 in the fifth year, and 60 in 2022, the sixth year. Currently, there is no ceiling on contributions to Sodra, although there is a limit to the amount of social security benefits the fund pays.

Linstow to build extension to Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva

Norway’s Linstow is set to invest at least 20 million euros in expanding its Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva Hotel, one of the biggest hotels in Vilnius. Viesbutis Lietuva, the operator of the 20-floor, four-star hotel located in the center of the Lithuanian capital, has signed a contract with Estonia’s property development and construction group Merko Ehitus for the designing and building of an extension to the hotel.

The total value of the contract, including VAT, is around 19.9 million euros. The construction work will be performed by the group’s Lithuanian subsidiary, Merko Statyba. The construction is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

Minister: Brexit weakens EU and represents a victory for Russia

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has said Britain’s vote to exit the EU had weakened the bloc and represented a victory for Russia’s president, during a visit to the United States. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, Linkevičius said that the Brexit vote had weakened the EU and warned that the European Union will be losing one of its strongest voices standing up to Russian aggression following Britain’s vote, the Washington Times reported.

Lithuania’s new step against vote-buying

The heads of Lithuania’s ministries for interior and justice and the Central Electoral Commission signed on Thursday, June 30, a memorandum on cooperation in combating vote-buying during elections. The memorandum aims to improve the legal environment, to educate the general public, to promote public intolerance toward vote-buying and to take steps to prevent abuses.

U.S. navy ship in Klaipeda

The U.S. Navy’s ship USS Mount Whitney arrived on Thursday, June 30, at the Lithuanian port of Klaipėda, the U.S. embassy in Vilnius said. During their stay in Klaipėda, the crew met with officers of the Lithuanian Navy and leaders of the city of Klaipeda, as well as visited a summer camp for foster children and watched a friendly between the national teams of Lithuania and Tunisia. The USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet, is based in Gaeta, in Italy.

13 new refugees resettled in Lithuania

Twelve Syrian refugees and a stateless person from Palestine came to Lithuania from Greece late on Wednesday, June 29, under the European Union’s resettlement program, Interior Minister Tomas Žilinskas has confirmed.

The relocated persons include a 54-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman and their six daughters, aged between three and 22 years, and two sons, aged nine and 19 years, as well as their two relatives, aged 19 and 24 years. The family was engaged farming in their home country. A stateless person from Palestine also arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday.

Lithuania easies foreigners’ residence, employment issues

The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, June 30, adopted legislation making it easier for third-country nationals to obtain residence permits and get employed in the country. The Seimas passed the amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens in a vote of 72 to four with 24 abstentions.

The amendments require that foreign nationals who want to live in Lithuania pay their employees monthly salaries of at least two times the country’s average monthly wage. However, the requirement for them to employ at least three people, which was introduced two years ago, was removed from the law.

The law will also facilitate employment and temporary residence for highly qualified professionals and founders of startups businesses involved in new technologies or other innovations significant to the Lithuanian economy. A special commission set up by the Economy Ministry will assess if a planned company meets the criteria of a startup.

Marriott eyes Lithuania for more hotels

U.S. hotel giant Marriott is looking at opening new hotels in a number of cities around Lithuania. «We focus of course on the three capitals – Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. But we also have Kaunas, Klaipeda and, possibly Druskininkai on our radar in Lithuania,» Janusz Mitulski, development director for Central and Eastern Europe at Marriott International, told Verslo Žinios.

Lithuania lures Chinese tea giant

Lithuania lures China’s biggest tea grower to set up operations in the country. Chinese tea Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said he is hoping Yunnan Dianhong Group will set up its European marketing headquarters in the country. «China is increasingly interested in investment opportunities in Lithuania. Yunnan Dianhong Group also shows interest and we encourage the company to come to Lithuania,» said Butkevičius.

Seimas closes spring session

The Lithuanian parliament has finished the final plenary sittings of this spring session this week and will take a recess before reconvening in September for the last regular fall session of the current legislative term. The key decisions of the spring session:  a much-discussed new labour code and a reform of the pension system were passed in the last days of the session.

The labour code simplifies dismissal procedures, reduces severance payments, increases the number of permissible overtime hours, shortens vacation time and introduces a wider range of labour contracts.

Archaeologists’ discovery

An international team of archaeologists has located a tunnel in Lithuania used by Jewish prisoners to escape the Nazis during World War II. Ponary Forest Genocide Site The team from Israel, the United States, Canada and Lithuania used new state-of-the-art technology for underground predictive scanning to pinpoint the 100-foot-long tunnel located in the Ponar forest about 10 kilometres from Vilnius.

The famous tunnel was dug by Jewish prisoners of Ponar who were forced to burn the bodies of those killed at Ponar to cover up evidence of the genocide with the retreat of German forces on the Eastern Front.

New artificial insemination law is conservative

Lithuania’s obstetrician-gynecologist Reda Verbickienė believes that the conservative assisted fertilisation law passed last week is a loss for Lithuanians because modern treatment methods have become inaccessible, forcing patients to seek treatment abroad or waste money on procedures that may not only fail to deliver results, but may wind up harming them as well.

«The treatment of infertility is often a long process that involves complex tests and medications before the assisted fertilisation procedure is performed. One procedure is usually not enough, which is why, until now, embryo freezing procedures were used. In cases of infertility, it’s normal for fertilisation to occur only after several procedures, since their success rate is only 45-50 per cent,» said Verbickienė.

Constitutional amendment on family description

The Lithuanian parliament has approved an amendment to the Constitution that would tie the legal definition of a family to marriage and parenthood after the first debate on Tuesday, June 28. Family Seventy-four members of the Seimas voted in favour of the proposed amendment, 19 voted against, and 20 abstained.

Some 107 member of the Seimas have proposed to amend the Constitution by including provisions that «a family is created through marriage» and that «family also arises from motherhood and fatherhood» and that «marriage, family, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood are under the protection and care of the state.» The initiators of the amendment say that the state must support and protect the family as an institution amid the worsening demographic situation in the country.

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