President Dalia Grybauskaitė has urged Lithuanians living in the United Kingdom «to fight for their rights» amid an increase in reports of bullying and hate crime incidents in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
The president said that she personally discussed the issue of incidents against immigrants with British Prime Minister David Cameron during the latest EU summit in Brussels. Grybauskaitė underlined that the UK is still an EU member state and must comply with the bloc’s rules and international agreements that prohibit racism and incitement to hatred.
Silver medal for Lithuania in high jump
Lithuanian high-jump athlete Airinė Palšytė took silver at the European Athletics Championship, tying with Bulgarian high-jumper Mirela Demireva with a height of 1.96 meters. This was the first European adult medal for 23-year-old Palšytė. For the third year in a row, the gold medal went to 37-year-old Spanish high-jumper Rut Beitia, who was the only one to clear the 1.98meters’ mark.
Appeals court upholds sentence against ex-KBG officer
The Lithuanian Court of Appeals on Friday, July 8, dismissed appeals in a case in which Ylya Vorobyov, an 82-year-old former KGB officer, was charged with genocide for his role in the arrest of Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance commander Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas in 1956. Kristina Petrošienė, the court’s spokesman, said that the Court of Appeals has upheld the Kaunas Regional Court’s ruling, issued last year, to sentence Vorobyov to two years of restriction of freedom. Vorobyov asked to the Court of Appeals to acquit him, while prosecutors asked to sentence the man to seven years in prison.
Lithuanian dessert pictured in poststamp
Lithuania’s Postal Service has issued a new Culinary Heritage postage stamp with one of the oldest desserts from Lithuanian cuisine – cucumbers with honey. The new stamp was created by artist Aušra Ratkevičienė.
Lithuania extends bidding for GIPL construction contract
Lithuania’s gas transmission company Amber Grid has extended the deadline for potential contractors to submit bids for the construction of the Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) gas pipeline for a month until July 28. The company in mid-April launched bidding processes to select a construction contactor and to purchase pipes for the pipeline. The latter process has not been extended and is still ongoing.
Lithuania’s jobless rate goes down
Lithuania’s unemployment rate stood at 7.4 percent in early July, down by 0.2 percentage points compared with a month ago and down by 1.1 points year-on-year, figures from the country’s Labour Exchange showed on Thursday, July 7. There were 132,900 registered unemployed persons in the country on July 1, down by 3,800 persons, or 2.8 percent, from early June and down by 20,400 persons, or 13.3 percent, from a year ago. Some 50.4 percent of the unemployed were men, down by 13.8 percent year-on-year, and 49.6 percent were women, down by 12.9 percent.
Lithuania’s youth flocks for global congress
The third Meeting of World Lithuanian Youth has begun in Prienai, a town in southern Lithuania. The three-day event will feature presentations on business, science, politics and culture as well as various concerts and creative and technological workshops. Several thousand Lithuanians from more than 40 countries around the world will attend the event. Young people will find opportunities to participate in discussions with people famous in Lithuania and around the world. Some presentations will be delivered by Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, former Ukrainian minister of economy Adomas Abromavičius, and Rūta Lee, a Hollywood actor of Lithuanian descent.
Various topics will be discussed at the event, from personal success stories to propaganda in the media, national defence and demographic problems. According to festival organizer Ieva Davydenko, problems with emigration, a lack of tolerance in Lithuanian society, and other issues must be solved with all of the world’s Lithuanians together. The World Lithuanian Youth Association organizes these meetings every two years.
Lidl is No. 6 in Lithuania’s ad market
German-owned Lidl Lietuva ranked sixth among Lithuania’s top ten advertisers in May, a month before opening its first stores in the country, and was number two among retailers, the business daily Verslo Zinios reported on Thursday, July 7. Lidl Lietuva ranked 32nd among advertisers in the first five months of 2016, but it May alone, when the chain launched an active advertising campaign, it shot up to number six, based on an advertising monitoring report by TNS LT. In the retail category, Maxima was the top advertiser in May, accounting for 31 per cent of the segment’s total advertising investments. Lidl Lietuva came in second with 22.3 percent, followed closely by Palink, the owner of Iki stores, with 22.1 percent. Rimi was in fourth place with 12 percent.
Smuggler stopped at Vilnius Airport
A man tried to bring four alligators heads into Lithuania but was stopped by customs officials at Vilnius Airport after arriving from the United States on Tuesday evening. The Vilnius Territorial Customs Office said that they were checking if the Lithuanian national needed special permits for the transportation of the stuffed alligator heads.
The man told the customs officials that he had bought the heads in a Miami store and intended to use them as presents. The customs detained the stuffed heads on suspicions that the man, who did not have any permit to transport such «souvenirs» back home, had violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Lithuania will keep troops in Afghanistan
With the United States slowing the withdrawal of its troops in Afghanistan, Lithuanian soldiers have to remain in the country as well, said Defence Minister Juozas Olekas. The minister said Lithuanian troops’ participation in international missions and operations make it easier for the Allies to make a decision to enhance their presence in Lithuania and to significantly increase their contribution to the defence of the country and deterrence of potential enemies. Olekas said that Lithuania has received a request from the Allies to slightly increase its presence in Afghanistan.
PM stepped back after archbishop’s rebuke
The Lithuanian government has postponed cabinet discussion of amendments that would legally recognise a partnership between unmarried opposite-sex couples after opposition from religious leaders. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius proposed that the issue be cut from the agenda of the cabinet’s Thursday sitting, saying that the amendments require more dialogue and noting that «the archbishop gave a harsh sermon» on Wednesday, July 6. The amendments to the Civil Code, drafted by the Justice Ministry, are aimed at putting in place legal regulation of a partnership between a man and a woman who live together without registering a marriage.
The ministry said the amendments would regulate the rights and obligations of a man and a woman who have not registered a marriage but are living together and building a family relationship, as well as protect the interests of these persons and their children. The Justice Ministry said that an estimated 100,000 couples in Lithuania live together without registering a marriage.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas to join NY Knicks
A well-known Lithuanian basketballer Mindaugas Kuzminskas left for New York to sign a contract with the NBA’s New York Knicks. Though he is currently practicing for the Olympics with the Lithuanian national team, he left for New York briefly to sign a 2-year contract with the Knicks. This makes Kuzminskas the fourth Lithuanian basketballer who will be playing in the NBA next season. In addition to Kuzminskas, Jonas Valančiūnas (Toronto Raptors), Donatas Motiejūnas (Houston Rockets) and Domantas Sabonis (Oklahoma City Thunder), Egidijus Mockevičius may also wind up playing in the NBA – with the Brooklyn Nets.
Lithuanians around world gather to sing national anthem
On 6 July, thousands of Lithuanians in Lithuania and around the world gathered in town squares to sing the Lithuanian national anthem. Lithuania’s four historic capitals – Vilnius, Kaunas, Trakai and Kernavė – formed live video connections to sing the hymn together. Other groups gathered by Kaunas castle and on the Baltic coast to sing the hymn as well. The televised participants received a beginning tone from a student choir participating in the Song Festival at Vingio Park in Vilnius. Lithuanians have been gathering to sing their national hymn together on July 6 since 2009.
Lithuania gets into NATO top 10 for defence spending
On the back of a major increase in defence spending in the last year, Lithuania has made it into top 10 NATO countries for defence spending. Lithuania took ninth place out of 28 NATO members Country this year, spending 1.49 per cent of GDP. Last year, Lithuania was in 19th place. Estonia was in fourth place in the alliance at 2.16 per cent of GDP. Latvia this year was ranked 11th this year, spending 1.45 per cent of GDP The United States led the way with 3.61 per cent. Estonia stood at 2.16 per cent and Poland at 2 per cent. Lithuania lagged behind NATO allies on defence spending but in recent years began to rapidly increase funding in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and military activity in the Baltic Sea region.
100 military vehicles to arrive from Netherlands
About 100 used military Mercedes-Benz GD SUVs are being transported from the Netherlands to Lithuania in the next two weeks. Mercedes Benz military SUVs The Lithuanian military has purchased several hundred used military vehicles from Dutch army including Mercedes-Benz GD SUVs and DAF trucks. The vehicles cost Lithuania 7 million euro. Fifteen vehicles reached Lithuania at the end of 2015 and 18 additional vehicles arrived in April this year.
Dancers frolic at North American Folk Dance Festival
Nearly 1,800 dancers hit the floor to celebrate the 15th North American Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival in Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena this weekend. A dance about washing, drying and folding linen towels. Dance troupes came from all over the United States, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles but also closer, like the Baltimore suburbs. The crowd cheered as 1,800 dancers streamed onto the arena floor. Waltzed and polkaing, the thousands of dancers wiled away Sunday afternoon in the traditional way their grandparents and great grandparents would have danced in Lithuania.
President will take no vacation again this year
President Dalia Grybauskaitė plans to take no vacation again this year as the Law on the President does not provide for any vacation. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius is the only one among Lithuania’s top three officials who is planning a vacation abroad this summer. Seimas Speaker Loreta Graužinienė will spend her free time with her family at home in Ukmergė. Butkevičius is planning to take a two-week vacation in late July.