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Wednesday 23.08.2017 | Name days: Valgudis, Ralfs, Vitālijs
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Parliament relaunches bid to broaden dual citizenship

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Lithuania’s parliament has announced this week it is drafting a new initiative to allow dual citizenship to the citizens of Lithuania who acquire citizenship of a country of the European Union (EU) or NATO.

The amendment to the Citizenship Law was proposed by the opposition political group of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) and secured support from the elders of the parliament’s political groups, as well as that of Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis.

PM Saulius Skvernelis has also pledged to sign the bill. The TS-LKD leader, Gabrielius Landsbergis, informed his fraction expects to collect signatures of over 100 Seimas members and propose the bill for its registration. If passed, the bill would enable Lithuanians, who left Lithuania after March 11, 1990, and acquired citizenship of any other country of the EU or NATO, to preserve their Lithuanian citizenship.

Lithuania joins appeal in EU court over Nord Stream

Lithuania has joined Poland’s appeal against the European Commission’s decision to give Russia’s Gazprom more capacity on a branch of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in Germany, with the government saying that Brussels’ move may increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and harm Ukraine. The government maintains that the Commission’s decision leads to an increase in Europe’s energy dependence on Gazprom and may also have negative consequences for Ukraine as the flow of gas transit through the country will decrease.

MEPs call to verify claims EU’s Belarus support claims

The European Parliament (EP) has expressed concern that the European Union’s (EU) support to Belarus could be used for financing the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). A group of MEP called upon the European Commission to assess whether the highest nuclear safety standards are guaranteed for the Astrovyets nuclear power plant currently under construction and whether an EU guarantee to the EIB would not eventually be used for the financing of this nuclear site in Belarus.

Lithuanian MP maintains immunity

Lithuanian parliament on Thursday, April 6, denied local prosecutors a request to lift the legal immunity of Mantas Adomėnas in a defamation case. Adomėnas is a Conservative MP from the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats. Fifty-eight members of the Seimas voted in favour of stripping Adomėnas of his immunity, four voted against and one abstained. However, at least 71 votes are needed for lifting the immunity of a lawmaker. The prosecutor general asked the Seimas to strip Adomėnas of immunity in a private prosecution for defamation brought by Rūta Janutienė, a journalist, over his statements about corrupt media.

SD stalwart elected as Parliament’s vice-speaker

A Social Democratic stalwart, Irena Šiaulienė, a member of the Seimas since 1992, was elected on Thursday, April 6, as deputy speaker of the Lithuanian parliament. A motion to elect her as vice-speaker was passed with 73 votes in favour, 23 against and 11 abstentions. Šiaulienė replaces Mindaugas Bastys, another member of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LDSP) who earlier this year stepped down as deputy speaker after Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, had urged him to do so following the State Security Department’s decision not to grant him a top security clearance.

Ministry wants gender quotas

Lithuanian Economy Minister Mindaugas Sinkevičius has proposed to introduce gender quotas for currently male-dominated management boards at state-owned and municipal companies.

The minister has put forward a bill that provides for restricting the representation of either gender in state and municipal companies’ management boards to not more than two-thirds. Critics argue that such quotas only increase bureaucracy without addressing key social problems that prevent women from pursuing careers and may set artificial hurdles for more qualified people to fill these positions.

Man detained for graffiti drawing

Police on Wednesday, April 5, detained a man who was drawing graffiti on the fence of the Russian trade mission’s building in Vilnius. The 20-year-old man was detained in Kviečių Street and taken into police custody, the Police Department said. The graffiti reportedly included an English-language message about the «death count in Syria» and a six-pointed Star of David. A pre-trial investigation has been launched.

Facsimile of Lithuania’s 1918 independence

A facsimile of Lithuania’s 1918 Act of Independence on Thursday, April 5, was handed over to the Martynas Mažvydas National Library in Vilnius to be put on display. The ceremony was attended by Liudas Mažylis, a professor at Vytautas Magnus University who has recently found the only known original copy of the document in the German Foreign Ministry’s archives, as well as Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and the heads of the library and the House of Signatories.

External border controls tightened

As the European Union is ramping up its border controls from April 7, all people entering or leaving the EU, including citizens of the bloc’s member states, will have their documents checked against various registers and databases on lost and stolen documents, the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service said. Systematic checks at airports will have to be introduced within six months after the amended Schengen Border Code comes into force.

Authority eager to shorten alcohol sale hours

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, April 5, approved a set of proposals that call for further restricting the hours of sale of alcohol and banning alcohol advertising. The constraints envision limiting alcohol sale hours to between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sundays and between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Currently, retail stores are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the week. The government supported the idea of imposing a complete ban on alcohol advertising from 2018 to give time for businesses to prepare for it.

Russian appeals verdict in spying case

Former Lithuanian military officer and a Russian citizen have filed an appeal against the verdict of guilty on charges of spying. On February 28, a Šiauliai court sentenced Russian citizen Sergey Moiseyenko to 10 years and six months in prison, he was also found guilty of unlawful possession of a large number of munitions, explosives and grenades, while former Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base officer, captain Sergejus Pušinas was sent to prison for five years for spying. Allegedly, Pušinas between 2012 and the end of 2014 collected information for Moiseyenko about Lithuania’s Armed Forces and operations of NATO air-policing missions, locations of military capacities, military operations in Afghanistan, intelligence aircrafts operated from remote locations, their flights and possible stationing locations.

RTR Planeta face sanctions again

Just over a month after restrictions on the broadcasting of RTR Planeta in Lithuania ended, the country’s TV watchdog has again received a complaint about a program of the Russian TV channel allegedly inciting to war.

According to the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK), the complaint was over Vladimir Solovyov’s talk show Duel, broadcast on March 16, in which Russia’s State Duma member Vladimir Žirinovsky denied the right of the former Soviet republics to independence and vowed to restore the former borders of the Soviet Union by using force.

Higher wages is not key in curbing exodus

Although Lithuanian politicians say that higher wages are crucial in stopping Lithuanians from leaving their country, many Lithuanian businesses argue that revamping the education and tax systems and cutting back on the state bureaucracy are equally key to see emigration on a declining patch.

VU expellees honoured

Four people who were expelled from Vilnius University (VU) during the years of Soviet and Nazi occupation of Lithuania were honoured with Memory Diplomas on Monday, April 3. The symbolic diplomas were issued to Professor Vladimiras Lazersonas (1889–1945), a former head of the Department of Psychology, Chlaune Meistovskis (1919–1941), a student, Associated Professor Noachas Pryluckis (1882-1941), a former head of the Department of Yiddish Philology, and Associated Professor Nachmanas Sapira (1894–1943), a former head of the Department of Semitology.

PM calls Klaipeda port to be proactive

Lithuania has to be proactive in competing with Russian ports for cargoes, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Tuesday, April 4.

«Naturally, Russia has geopolitical and economic interests to support its ports. When it comes to oil product handling and transportation, they are trying to go through the economic prism and to get Belarus interested and thus naturally support its ports,» Skvernelis said.

Russia and Belarus have failed to agree on the gas price for more than half a year now. Amid a shortage of crude due to a cut in Russian oil deliveries, Belarus’ refineries sell almost all fuel they produce in the domestic market and their exports via the port of Klaipėda have almost stopped. As a result, Klaipėdos Nafta posted a 23 per cent year-on-year drop in oil product loadings for the first two months of this year and Lietuvos Geležinkeliai saw a 63 per cent slump in oil product shipments.

Swedish firm buys Vertas office building

Sweden’s investment company East Capital Explorer, which operates office complex 3 Burės in Vilnius, has purchased Vertas office building that accommodates Citco, Delfi, Handelsbanken and the European Social Fund Agency. According to the statement, the deal is estimated at 29 million euros, which accounts for about 6.5 per cent of the profit rate of the office building. The deal should be finalized this summer.

Vilnius Council nods to acquisition of 150 new buses

The Council of Vilnius has given this week its final approval for the acquisition of 150 new buses, which cost is over 40 million euros. The city wants to buy 100 twin-axle buses and 50 tri-axle buses meeting with the environmental standards and plans to pay for these vehicles within a period of eight years.

PM sees no conflict with LFGU

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says he sees no conflict with the political group of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) and its leader Ramūnas Karbauskis, pledging to include more group members in drafting of decisions in the future to facilitate smoother operations. He spoke following the president’s remarks on «rhetoric war» taking place more than 100 days after the government’s accessions. She urged the prime minister, the parliamentary speaker and the LFGU leader in the parliament to settle the conflict.

«I don’t see a conflict here. My position remains unchanged – the meetings that were held within the group on Monday answered many questions, the work continues and there is no need to worry,» Skvernelis insisted on Thursday, April 6.

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