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Week in Lithuania. Russian pop star Gazmanov denied entry to Lithuania

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOleg Gazmanov, a top-tier Russian pop singer known for his glorification of the Kremlin and the Soviet Union in his songs, was denied entry to Lithuania on Wednesday, August 17. Gazmanov is on the Lithuanian intelligence‘s blacklist of people barred from entering the country.

The State Border Guard Service (VSAT) said on Thursday, August 18, that Gazmanov, who came from Moscow to Vilnius late on Wednesday, had a Schengen visa issued by Italy. «It turned out that the man, who arrived on a flight from Moscow, is a persona non grata in this country,» the service said in a press release.

The 65-year-old singer was allowed to stay overnight in a hotel at Vilnius Airport. He took a flight back to Moscow on Thursday morning.

Gazmanov has been blacklisted by Lithuania‘s authorities due to propaganda supporting Russia‘s aggression in Ukraine, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has said. Lithuanian border guards have this year denied entry to over 2,700 people because of various reasons.

The Russian embassy in Vilnius said that their reaction to the incident was negative.

«We take a negative view, because he is our citizen, but we do not know the specific reasons why this was done. He did not contact us,» Nadezhda Manzhina, the embassy‘s spokeswoman, said in a statement. She said that Russia was not considering making a diplomatic protest over Lithuania‘s denial of entry to Gazmanov.

Most wanted fugitive to be handed over from Vietnam

Vietnam handed over Sergey Rachinstein, a businessman sentenced for tax fraud, to Lithuania on Thursday, August 18, the Prosecutor General‘s Office said. Rachinstein was immediately sent to Lukiškės Prison to serve his two-and-a-half year sentence. Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis described the case, including the Lithuanian Supreme Court‘s precedent-setting ruling and the entire search and extradition process, as a significant victory for the Lithuanian justice system. Rachinstein was sentenced for setting up a chain of sham companies on behalf of homeless individuals that helped him legalize close to 3 million euro and appropriate over 400,000 euro in VAT between 2000 and 2004.

Ministers inspected security at Klaipėda LNG terminal

Lithuanian Interior Minister Tomas Žilinskas and Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis went to Klaipėda on Friday, August 19, to inspect security arrangements at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

«I want to see how the physical protection of the terminal is organized, because the Public Security Service (under the Interior Ministry) is guarding (the facility) in cooperation with Klaipėdos Nafta,» Žilinskas said prior the trip. The visit to Klaipėda follows a recent incident in which a yacht crashed into a tanker docked at Būtingė oil terminal. The boat was not detected by the radars of either border guards or the military because of bad weather. The energy minister accompanied Žilinskas on the trip and showed him around the LNG facility.

Extreme weather caused significant damage

Extreme weather conditions this summer has caused considerable damage to property in Lithuania. Insurers say that storms were the most common cause of damage. Weather conditions have been very uneven this summer in Lithuania. June was relatively warm and dry, meanwhile July brought much rainfall, twice the average amount in some regions. Strong winds, thunderstorms and squalls were a common occurrence this summer. Insurers estimate that the damage to people’s property due to natural elements totals nearly 400,000 euro this summer.

Lithuanian Railways to transport coal from Russia

Kuzbasskaya Toplivnaya Company, one of Russia‘s largest coal exporters, has started hauling crude coal to Poland via Lithuania. By the end of this year, up to 250,000 tons of coal should be transported via Lithuania by rail. The state-run company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, or LG) transported the Kuzbass company‘s first shipment via the Lithuanian territory in early August. Coal from Meret railway station via Lithuania and the Russian Kaliningrad station travelled to the Chrusciel station in Poland, LG said.

Fourth Olympic medal for Lithuania in Rio

Lithuanian athletes Aurimas Lankas and Edvinas Ramanauskas won bronze after finishing third in men‘s kayak double 200m event in Rio de Janeiro Olympic games on Thursday, August 18. Aurimas Lankas and Edvinas Ramanauskas finished the distance in 32.32 seconds. The Olympic gold went to Saul Craviotto Rivero and Cristian Toro Carballo (32.075 seconds) of Spain, while Britain’s John Shofield and Liam Heath secured silver (32.368 seconds). Hungarian, German, Serbian, French and Canadian athletes were left outside the top three.

Healthcare minister‘s condition serious but stable

Lithuania‘s Healthcare Minister Juras Požela remains in Vilnius University‘s Santariškės Clinic with acute pancreatitis. Doctors say his condition is serious, but stable. The clinic‘s director general Kęstutis Strupas told reporters on Thursday, August 18, that Požela‘s condition was improving. Požela was admitted to hospital with a gastro-intestinal disorder and stomach pains.

Lithuania buys used military vehicles from Netherlands

Several hundreds of used military vehicles purchased from the Netherlands will add mobility and power to the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said on Thursday, August 18. Bert van der Lingen, the Dutch ambassador to Lithuania, said, «Today we are provided with yet another honourable example of cooperation between two NATO allies – Lithuania and the Netherlands… Just like Lithuania, the Netherlands is committed to safeguarding of the security of all NATO allies, of course, including our Baltic partners.»

Food safety watchdog finds salmonella

Lithuania‘s State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT) said on Thursday, August 18, that it has found salmonella in samples of Liuks dumplings made by Judex, a Kaunas-based frozen food product company. Mantas Staškevičius, acting head of the Veterinary Division at the VMVT, informed that the authority had tested 220 out of 230 product samples taken from Judex. «The presence of salmonella in Liuks dumplings was confirmed. These products have already been withdrawn from the market and will now be sent back to the company and destroyed,» he said. According to the official, the VMVT thinks that the dumplings became contaminated with salmonella from raw meat. Judex, whose operations were suspended on August 5, has until August 22 to eliminate all shortcomings in order to resume production, he said.

Food and Veterinary Service chief   in hot water

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday asked Jonas Milius, director of the State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT), to prepare an activity report and submit it to the Cabinet, which will then decide on whether to dismiss him from the job. Law-enforcement officials have brought suspicions of abuse of office against Milius. They suspect that Judex, a Kaunas-based frozen food company, sought to influence the VMVT via Petras Gražulis, a member of the Seimas, to avoid penalties for violations.

Shoppers prefer locally grown vegetables

Lithuanian shoppers prefer locally-grown vegetables and pick fresher products over lower-priced ones, a survey has shown. Shoppers in Lithuania‘s major cities and families with children are particularly concerned that vegetables they buy are fresh, according to a survey commissioned by the retail chain IKI. Experts say that the results indicate changing habits of Lithuanian consumers. Vegetables are the fastest growing product group, according to Statistics Lithuania. Currently, Lithuanians consume, on average, some 100 kg of vegetables a year.

Basketball team‘s Olympic hopes dashed

The Lithuanian men‘s basketball team saw its Olympic dream crushed after suffering a blow from the Australian squad 90:64 (17:26, 13:22, 13:22, 21:20).  Team Lithuania advanced to the quarter-finals with three victories and two defeats. Since 1992, when Lithuania débuted in Summer Olympics, its basketball team would always make it to the top 4, except in 2012 in London. After the match, the captain of the national team, Robertas Javtokas, announced his retirement from the national squad.

France and Germany to take over Baltic air-policing mission

French and German aviators will take over the NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic States in September. A French contingent with their Mirage fighter-jets will replace Portuguese airmen currently serving in the Šiauliai Aviation Base in Lithuania, while Germans with Eurofighter Typhoon jets will take over the mission from the United Kingdom in the Amari base in Estonia, Lithuania‘s Ministry of National Defence has confirmed. The air-policing jets routinely identify and escort Russian warplanes flying in the international airspace above the Baltic Sea several times a week. The mission has been conducted in the three Baltic states since the nations joined the Alliance in 2004.

Icelandic handball player applies for citizenship

Ramunė Pekarskytė, a Lithuanian-born handball player who is a citizen of Iceland, has asked Lithuania‘s President Dalia Grybauskaitė to grant her the Lithuanian citizenship for her special merits for Lithuania. Pekarskytė‘s application is based on a provision in the citizenship law that took effect in July and envisages a possibility for people who can claim special merits to Lithuania to hold dual citizenship. The Lithuanian laws bans dual citizenship as a matter of course, save for some exceptions.

Minijos Nafta halts crude oil extraction

Minijos Nafta, one of Lithuania‘s largest oil extraction companies, posted a loss of over 10 million euros in 2015 due to a decline in global crude prices. The company is this year halting oil extraction in some of the deposits, reducing staff numbers and shortening the working week.

Furthermore, the company lowered the number of staff and curtailed the working week to three days. In late 2015, Minijos Nafta had a staff of 112 people (122 in late 2014).

Some 145 people paid salaries above 50,000 euro

Some 145 people in Lithuania received a salary that topped 50,000 euros in at least one of the first six months of this year and the highest monthly salary paid during the period exceeded 250,000 euros, the Delfi news website reported, citing data from the state social insurance fund Sodra. The average salary paid to the country‘s top earners during the first half ranged between 21,400 euros and 41,100 euros. Raimonda Tatarelyte, head of marketing at CV Market, says that the highest salaries are paid to top-level executives, usually employees of international companies or large local businesses. There were 241,000 employees with reported monthly insured income of up to 350 euros in the country in June.

Lithuania doesn’t need railway stretch to Renge

A lawmaker and an economist say that Lithuania does need the railway stretch to Renge in Latvia and the dismantled tracks are no more than a pretext that Poland and Latvia are using to put pressure on their neighbor, the daily Lietuvos Žinios reported on Thursday, August 18.

Žygimantas Mauricas, Nordea‘s chief economist in Lithuania, sees clear interests in this situation.

«Orlen Lietuva wants to have a product transportation alternative to Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) and the Klaipeda port. Higher competition could help it obtain lower (transportation) rates and thus improve its operating results,» the economist said.

Latvijas Gaze unbundling violates small shareholders‘ rights

The Lithuanian Investors‘ Association says that plans to set up a separate company, named Conexus Baltic Grid, to take over the natural gas transmission and storage business of Latvijas Gaze (Latvian Gas) are unfavorable to small shareholders as the new company’s shares will not be listed on the stock exchange.

«Obviously, better assets, infrastructure, go to Conexus Baltic Grid and if there was a choice, investors should opt for that company. However, the fact that the company is not planned to be listed makes it completely unattractive,» Vytautas Plunksnis, chairman of the board at the association, said. «This is a disguised delisting of a part of the business. Thus, it would be fair to announce a tender offer at a fair price,» he said. Plunksnis claimed that the association planned to write to Latvia‘s Financial and Capital Market Commission to draw its attention to violation of minority shareholders‘ rights.


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