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Week in Lithuania. Defence minister faces interpellation over army utensils hoopla

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Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas

Lithuania’s opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), or conservatives, plan to launch interpellation procedure against Defence Minister Juozas Olekas, a social democrat, over suspected fraud in the army’s public procurement contracts.

An inspection has revealed that the Lithuanian army has signed a contract with a private company to procure kitchen utensils at eight times their market value.

Meanwhile, the embattled defence minister, Juozas Olekas, has ordered to check army’s 2016 acquisitions.

«In an effort to get objective information and clear answers to the conclusions of the Public Procurement Service, as well as assure the people of Lithuania that the money intended for defence are used for the purpose, I ordered checks of the acquisition tenders currently conducted by the Lithuanian army and the signed contracts, with a particular focus on the tenders involving one supplier only,» Olekas said in a press release circulated by the Ministry of National Defence.

Sixteen towns hold European Days of Jewish Culture

European Days of Jewish Culture started in Lithuania on Friday, September 2, providing an opportunity to discover the Jewish heritage in events scheduled in 16 towns and cities across the country, the Cultural Heritage Department said. «Regardless of the intensive destruction of the tangible and intangible Jewish culture during the Soviet era in Lithuania, we have quite a few pieces of intangible cultural heritage.

The larger share in Vilnius and other bigger towns of Lithuania are yet to be discovered, recognized and ‘read’ as consequence of the sovietisation,» the department’s director Diana Varnaitė said.

Lithuanian takes over reins of NATO Budget Committee

Tomas Gražiūnas of Lithuania has taken the helm of the NATO Budget Committee for a three-year term. He is the first Lithuanian to head a high NATO committee. Before the designation, Gražiūnas was the chancellor at the Defence Ministry, the ministry said. NATO’s Budget Committee consists of representatives of 28 countries and a chairman.

Kaunas school named after former president

A gymnasium in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city has been renamed after Lithuania’s former president Valdas Adamkus. Speaking at the ceremony, Adamkus said he was grateful and touched by the gesture, adding the gift was a commitment to be together with young people. «I admit that speaking now is both easy and difficult for me. It’s easy because I always find common grounds with young people and students, I feel free and open. The difficult part is the big honour granted to me today, and I feel grateful and also very touched. Thank you for your trust in me and my work. I accept this gift as a commitment to continue being with young people, school students and Lithuania,» the president added.

Lithuanian’s serving in German army okayed

Lithuania’s government has given permission for Lithuanian citizen Jonas Dovydas Jaehn to serve in Germany’s Armed Forces. Jaehn will be the first Lithuanian citizen to serve in Germany’s army. He applied for the Lithuanian government’s sanction six weeks ago. As proposed by Interior Minister Tomas Žilinskas, the issue was included in the agenda of the government’s meeting on Wednesday, August 31. He will be the first Lithuanian citizen during the 26 years of independence to serve in Armed Forces of a foreign country, according to the Interior Ministry.

Expats slow in registering to vote in general elections

Lithuanian citizens living abroad are not very active in registering as voters for the October general elections, the Central Electoral Commission has said.  According to the data provided by the commission, 4,102 Lithuanian citizens have registered for voting in the online registration system by Wednesday, which is equal to 23 per cent of the voters who registered in the last polls. In the previous general elections of 2012, 17,009 Lithuanians who reside abroad registered to vote. So far, the biggest number of voters, 945, registered to vote in the United Kingdom, 490 in the United States, 453 in Belgium, 374 in Germany, 234 in Denmark, 210 in Norway and 199 in Ireland.

Stores ID all alcohol buyers

All alcohol buyers, irrespective of their apparent age, will from now on be asked to produce identification documents in most supermarkets across Lithuania. Critics of the initiative, proposed by the country’s majors retail chains, say it is a trick to exert pressure on politicians considering further alcohol sales restrictions. To buy alcoholic beverages in stores of Lithuania’s largest retail chains, all buyers will have to produce identification documents specifying their age as of Friday. The companies that proposed the scheme suggest they aim to prevent sales of alcohol to minors and raise public awareness. They say no buyer data would be collected, with buyers only requested to show their IDs to cashiers.

Fewer students start academic year

Less than 30,000 first-graders began new school year in Lithuania.  Nevertheless, the overall number of students continues declining – from 335,000 in the last academic year to over 328,000 this year. Traditionally, first-graders will receive first-grader passports from the Education and Justice Ministry on September 1. Another 2,000 passports have been sent to Lithuanian-language schools in 20 foreign countries.

Lithuania signs deal with Israeli weapon maker

Lithuania has closed a deal with the Israeli weapon company «Rafael» and will get new-generation missiles and remote controlled weapon stations, according to the Israeli newspaper «Yedioth Ahronoth».

Lithuanian MPs invited to Poland

Lithuanian parliamentarians have received an invitation to visit Poland after a prolonged time. A delegation of the parliament’s European Affairs Committee will go to Warsaw on the first visit of the level since the change of the Polish government a year ago. Ten members of the committee will start their visit in the Polish capital on September 12. The committee’s chairman Gediminas Kirkilas of the ruling Social Democrats said the meetings with Polish colleagues would primarily address European issues. In Kirkilas’ words, bilateral ties between Lithuania and Poland have been cold, as active political cooperation is undermined by Warsaw’s focus on complaints of the Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania.

Moscow House construction in Vilnius stalls

Moscow is looking for contractors to finish building Moscow House in Vilnius. The project, which started in 2008, but has stalled since then, has not been enthusiastically met by the administration of the Lithuanian capital city.  Moscow wants the culture and business centre in Vilnius to be completed within seven months and is looking to sign a contract worth up to 944.6 million roubles (approximately 13 million euros). The seven-month deadline would include setting up a roof, walls, flooring, utilities and ventilation as well as furnishing. Moreover, the building would be expected to house a theatre, a café and conference halls.

Decision on Polish-language school in Vilnius

The final decision to allow education in the Polish language for 12 years in a Vilnius school, which is crucial for the local Polish community, should be made before the end of this year. Although the movement of the Joachim Lelevel Engineering School to new premises in the Lithuanian capital is behind schedule, Lithuania’s Education and Science Minister Audronė Pitrėnienė says that the decision on its accreditation as long gymnasium should be made in November.

Lithuanian suspected of credit card fraud in US

A Lithuanian resident is suspected of unlawfully using credit cards of US citizens in 772 episodes, local authorities said. The pre-trial investigation showed that the suspect, 26, used the credit card data for buying electrical household appliances and airplane tickets in online stores, as well as booking hotels and other services. The use of cards was established by officers of the Kaunas county criminal police in charge of online crimes. The suspect has a previous criminal record, he faces a fine, arrest or up to six years in prison.

Judex foods back on shelves

After repeated tests did not reveal any bacteria, the Lithuanian State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT) on Tuesday, August 30, allowed the Kaunas-based frozen food product company Judex subject to a law-enforcement investigation to resume production. Salmonella, E. coli and listeria were earlier confirmed in its output, while enterobacteriaceae was found in the premises.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.4047


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