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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania protests presentation of Russian journalist’s slanderous book

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Russian journalist Galina Sapozhnikova

Lithuania’s Embassy has expressed a protest against presentation of Russian journalist Galina Sapozhnikova’s book on Lithuania’s tragic events back in January 13, 1991. The book’s presentation took place on Wednesday, October 12, in Milan, Italy.

«The publication provides the Italian society with misleading version of Lithuania’s history that is not based on any facts and, furthermore, aims to taint the memory of Lithuanian freedom defenders and spread ideas that are adverse to the independent Lithuanian state,» the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a press release. Lithuania has dismissed the Russian journalist’s book titled «The Lithuanian Conspiracy. How the Soviet Union Collapsed and what Happened to Those Who Aimed to Preserve It» as slanderous. The embassy has handed letters of protest to organizers of the presentation and the administration of the book store. The letters emphasize the threats suffered by free societies from irresponsible and propaganda literature. Sapozhnikova has been declared persona non grata in Lithuania.

New head of EU Commission’s mission in Vilnius

Arnoldas Pranckevičius, an adviser to the president of the European Parliament and the chairman of the Lithuanian community in Belgium, has been appointed head of the Representation of the European Commission in Vilnius. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has informed the Lithuanian government about his appointment. Pranckevičius has won a competition and his taking up his new post on October 17. The head of the representation is appointed for a three-year term that can be extended for another two years.

Second Free Russia Forum in Vilnius

A Free Russia Forum took place Vilnius on Friday and Saturday, October 14-15, the second event of the series this year. It focused on Russia’s main problems, bringing together Russia’s prominent opposition activists and human rights defenders. The two-day forum continued the discussions opened in March about the Russia’s issues and international policies, organizers said. The participants of the event included Russia’s politicians, publicists, journalists, civil society activists, cultural figures and international experts. The forum discussed the political, economic and social situation in Russia, the results of the Duma elections, Russia’s relations with the Western world.

Russian bans lawyer from travelling to Lithuania

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said that Russia’s decision to ban Mark Feigin, a lawyer and human rights defender who was to take part in Free Russia Forum in Vilnius from leaving the country appears to be «a political move”.«The reason (cited by the authorities) is that he (Feigin) has not paid a tax. He himself says that he has documents proving that he owes nothing. It looks very much like a political move,» Linkevičius said.

WWII-era explosives found in canal

Mine-clearing specialists discovered 72 World War II-era artillery shells in a canal next to the dolphinarium of Lithuania’s port city of Klaipėda, the Defence Ministry said. The first shells were unearthed on Tuesday, October 11, by workers cleaning the canal. An operation to neutralize the explosives was continued by specialists of the Juozas Vitkus Engineering Battalion on Wednesday, October 12.The explosives were transported to the Kairiai training grounds for destruction.

Order and Justice Party results in question

Suspicions of vote-buying in Šilutė, in western Lithuania, may call into question the Order and Justice Party’soverall results in the country’s parliamentary elections, the head of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said on Thursday, October 13.«It is my understanding is that the question is both about the multi-member results – the individual candidate and the candidate list. The Šilutė constituency includes 22,000 voters. Another thing is that the party has over 5,000 votes over the threshold. This has happened in earlier elections (…). We will have to evaluate the multi-member voting whether (the Order and Justice Party’s member) Kęstas Komskis is still a candidate and whether the list remains. I believe questions will be raised by politicians, we will also have to evaluate,» Zenonas Vaigauskas said.

Street sign in Karaim language unveiled in Vilnius

A symbolic street sign in the Karaim language was unveiled in Karaimu Street in Vilnius on Friday, October 14. Those taking part in the ceremony included Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius, Turkish Ambassador Aydan Yamancan and Jurij Spakovski, chairman of the Karaim religious community in Lithuania, the capital’s local authority said. It is the seventh symbolic non-Lithuanian street sight in Vilnius. Such signs have already been unveiled in the capital’s streets named after Iceland, Warsaw, Russia, Tatars and Jews and in the Washington Square.

Q1-3 new car sales strong in Lithuania

Lithuania’s new car sales rose at one of the fastest rates in the EU in the three quarters of 2016, figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) showed on Friday, October 14.New passenger car registrations in Lithuania jumped by 21.4 percent in January through September year-on-year to reach 15,600 units. Larger increases were only registered in Cyprus, Hungary and Latvia.Latvia posted a 23 percent increase to 12,700 and Estonia recorded an 11.2 percent growth to 17,400 units.Across the EU, new car registrations rose by 8 percent to 11.2 million units.

Thailand may lift visas

Thailand may lift the visa requirement for Lithuanians even though the number of Lithuanian tourists traveling to the Southeast Asian country is too low.Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Neris Germanas, on a visit to Bangkok, discussed the possibility of visa-free travel for Lithuanians with Thailand’s Deputy Foreign Minister Veerasak Futrakul and Deputy Trade Minister Winichai Chaemchaeng.«It was explained in a very practical and simple way: under their rules, the issue of visa-free travel is not addressed until the number of travelers reaches 16,000 people. We were somewhat surprised by the fact, but now we at least now have a formal explanation,» Germanas said. Some 10,000 Lithuanians have visited Thailand this year so far, up from around 9,000 people in 2015, the official said.

President’s condolences over king’s death

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has conveyed condolences over the passing of the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej.In her words, a dedicated and committed leader, King Bhumibol Adulyadej will be always remembered as a highly respected and dearly loved monarch – King of all the people of Thailand, the Lithuanian president’s press service said.

Purchase of biofuel boiler plant became possible

The Lithuanian Competition Council on Thursday, October 13, gave a green light for Danpower Baltic, a German-Lithuanian joint energy venture, to buy 100 percent of shares of a 20 megawatt (MW) biofuel boiler plant from its shareholder Geco Investicijos (Geco Investments) owned by Zabolis ir Partneriai (Zabolis and Partners) enterprise.Operated by Geco Investicijos, Geco Kaunas finished the construction of the biofuel boiler plant in Kaunas in 2012, with investments amounting to 5.8 million euros. Germany’s Danpower , which is 84.9 percent owned by the Hannover municipal utilities company Stadtwerke Hannover, and Lithuania’s renewable energy company Geco Investicijos each hold 50 percent of shares in  Danpower  Baltic.

A Lithuanian home search platform eyes New York

Place I Live, an online home search platform developed by Lithuania’s Codein, has attracted strong interests from residents of New York, the business daily Verslo Žinios reported on Thursday, October 13. «New York is a place where creating a business is very hard because of competition, expensive services and spoiled customers. If you succeed there, you may succeed anywhere,» it quoted Codein CEO ŠarŪnas Legeckas as saying. Place I Live offers users to explore different neighborhoods based on information about housing prices, safety, distance to schools and other criteria.

Vilnius hosts global special operations forces symposium

Around 200 defence experts from 20 countries took part in the Global SOF Symposium – Europe on Thursday, October 13. Organizers described it as a unique opportunity for Lithuania to find new ways of improving its defense and unconventional warfare methods and to make a realistic assessment of the threats to its national security.

Lithuania oppose trucker wage regulation

Haulers from Lithuania and another 10 EU countries tried to prove in an inter-parliamentary discussion in Brussels on Wednesday, October 12, that the hourly wage and rest requirements for long-distance drivers imposed by Germany, France and Belgium run counter to the EU’s free market principles, Lietuvos Žinios reported on Thursday, October 13.According to the daily paper, Erlandas Mikėnas, president of the Lithuanian road carriers’ association Linava, said in a statement addressed to Lithuanian MEPs that Western countries are shielding their haulers from competition.

Lithuania hands note to Russia

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, October 12, handed a diplomatic note to Russia’s ambassador in Vilnius, Alexander Udaltsov, over incidents in Lithuania’s exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea. Russia’s military vessels ships on Monday, October 10, gave orders to six civilian ships in Lithuania’s economic zone to change their course.

Lithuania nods to 2017 budget draft

Lithuania’s government on Wednesday, October 12, gave its approval to the budget draft for 2017.Consolidated central government and municipal revenue, including EU investment and other international support funds, is expected to grow by 5.9 percent next year compared with this year to 9.997 billion euros and expenditure is projected to increase by 5 percent to 10.580 billion euros. The central government’s revenue should rise by 429.769 million euros, or 5.3 percent, to 8.476 billion euros and expenditure should go up by 372.883 million euros, or 4.3 percent, to 9.06 billion euros. The budget deficit is expected to narrow by 56.886 million euros, or 8.9 percent, to 583.403 million euros.

Lithuania’s industrial output on decline

Lithuania’s industrial decline reported in August was among the biggest among the 28 member-states of the European Union (EU), Eurostat said. Lithuania’s industrial production fell by 2 percent in August from July. Latvia’s industrial production also lost 2 percent over the month, while the decline in Estonia was -0.5 percent. Year-on-year, Lithuania’s industrial output fell by 1.2 percent, while Latvia recorded a 0.6 percent decrease and Estonia posted a 1 percent rise.

Chief of defence discussed military cooperation

Lithuania’s Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas met this week on his working visit to the U.S. with U.S. Army Forces Commander General Mark A. Milley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Joseph L. Lengyel and representatives of the US Army Joint Staff. The Lithuanian general also met with the Lithuanian community in the US and shared his insights about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region. In Pennsylvania, he discussed the security situation and cooperation matters with Pennsylvania National Guard Commander Major General Tony Carrelli.

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