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Week in Lithuania. Street plaque in Yiddish, Hebrew languages unveiled in Vilnius

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A street sign in Yiddish and Hebrew languages was unveiled on Žydų gatvė in the heart of the historic Jewish quarter in Vilnius on Tuesday, September 20.

«…Eleven thousand Jews were forced to leave here and few weeks afterwards on October 21 of 1941 were taken to Paneriai where they all were murdered. This is the most important thing that we should remember,» Israel‘s Ambassador Amir Maimon said at the ceremony.

The plaque was unveiled a few days before September 23, which Lithuania commemorates as the Day of Genocide.

This is the 6th symbolic street sign in a foreign languages in the Lithuanian capital – analogous signs in official languages have already been unveiled on streets named after Iceland, Warsaw, Russia, Tatars and the Washington Square.

MPs mull cutting number of MPs

The Lithuanian parliament has started discussions on the Labour Party’s proposal to reduce the number of members of the Seimas to 111, from the current 141 members.

The draft amendment to the Constitution passed the first reading in the Seimas with 66 votes in favor, four against and 15 abstentions and will be now discussed at parliamentary committees. Valentinas Bukauskas, chairman of the parliament’s Committee on State Administration and Local Authorities, called on the current parliament to launch debates on this issue, with a final decision to be adopted by the next one.

A constitutional amendment must be debated and voted on twice by the Seimas, with an interval of at least three months between the votes, and requires a two-thirds majority, or 94 votes, to be adopted

President: women‘s role in tackling crises should be stepped

Lithuania‘s President Dalia Grybauskaitė urged leaders of member-states of the United Nations to empower women to tackle international crises.

«However all of today‘s greatest challenges – from climate change to fighting terrorism or ending the world‘s deadliest conflicts – can only be resolved with full participation of both genders and especially women,» Grybauskaitė said in her speech at the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, September 22.The Lithuanian president stated that traditions in some countries to send off or sell girls into early marriages blocking their path to education, higher income and independence.

Lithuanian agrees with sentence for spying

Romualdas Lipskis, a former employee of Lithuania’s state air traffic company Oro Navigacija (Air Navigation) sentenced to five years in prison for spying for Belarus, is not contesting his sentence. The Lithuanian citizen had until mid-September to lodge an appeal with the Lithuanian Supreme Court, but he did not do so. Snaiguolė Mažeikienė, his lawyer, informed that Lipskis‘ children did not want their father to continue the court battle, even though the man himself had been inclined to appeal to the Supreme Court. Under Lithuanian law, Lipskis is not eligible for parole and will have to serve his full sentence until January 2019. The Vilnius Regional Court in November 2015 sentenced Lipskis to three years and three months in prison, but the Lithuanian Court of Appeals last May increased the prison term to five years.

Lithuania to contest Swedish court ruling

Lithuania was to apply on Thursday, September 22, to a Swedish court for an annulment of a Stockholm arbitration court’s ruling in a dispute between the government and Russia‘s gas giant Gazprom in which the country sought, but was not awarded, 1.4 billion euros in compensation for overpriced Russian natural gas. The government in late August authorized the Energy Ministry to turn to a Swedish court for an annulment of the arbitration ruling that cost the state 9 million euros. Following a four-year legal battle, the arbitration court ruled in late June that Gazprom had a conflict of interest in acting as both a shareholder of Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas) and a supplier of gas to Lithuania, but it did not award the compensation sought by Lithuania.

A bunch of amendments to Labour Code

Lithuanians MPs, mostly from the Social Democratic political group, registered on Wednesday, September 21, 11 draft amendments to the Labour Code. Some of the new amendments are similar to those proposed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, who vetoed the code saying that it failed to provide sufficient safeguards to employees and reinforced employers‘ domination.

Vilnius court order on letter W in passport

Vilnius court has ruled that name of another Lithuanian citizen should be spelled with the non-Lithuanian character W in his passport and personal identity card.  The decision was taken in connection to Lithuanian citizen Malgozatos Runevic – Vardyn and her child whose father is Polish citizen Lukasz Pawel Wardyn, Under the earlier ruling, the child’s last name was spelled with a w in his birth certificate. An appeal against the latest ruling can still be filed. This is the second court ruling to allow spelling of a name of a Lithuanian citizen in non-Lithuanian characters in his personal documents.

National fridge maker to launch new fridge series

Lithuania‘s refrigerator manufacturer Snaige, which is part of Russia‘s Polair group, plans to develop a new line of refrigerators. The company has applied for assistance for development of the new product via the European Union program for corporate innovations. In Snaige‘s opinion, creation of the new refrigerator line should cost about 600,000 euros.

Library in Romania named after late ex-MEP Donskis

A library of Baltic and Nordic studies in Romania has been named after Lithuania‘s late professor Leonidas Donskis. The library, which has been named after the philosopher who unexpectedly passed away on Wednesday, is located in the Valahia University of Targoviste, a city in southern Romania, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, September 22. Donskis unexpectedly died at the Vilnius airport on Wednesday morning. During his career as a scientist, he worked in universities in the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Hungary, writing more than 40 monographs and over 500 articles. In 2009-2014, Donskis held a mandate at the European Parliament, working in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party.

Vilniaus Energija‘s ungrounded gains

Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy), Lithuania‘s biggest district heating supplier controlled by France‘s Veolia, generated an unlawful excess profit of 24.3 million euros in the 2012-2015 period, the energy market regulator said on Thursday, September 22.The way of returning the sum to heating consumers will be discussed at the nearest meeting, said Inga Ziliene, the head of the National Commission for Energy Control and Prices (NCECP). A lower heating price should be approved as of Dec. 1 of this year.

In September of 2012, Lithuanian prosecutors launched a probe on the suspicion that Vilniaus Energija‘s CEO allowed Bionovus to profit from biofuel sales. Prosecutors suspected that Vilniaus Energija had included purchase of fuel, other services and commodities into the heating price, furthermore, the Competition Council imposed a fine of 19.004 million euros on Vilniaus Energija last December.

Lithuania set to foster relations with Cuba

Lithuania is stepping up diplomatic relations with Cuba: the two countries‘ foreign ministers have agreed to  establish a mechanism for bilateral consultations. A respective memorandum of understanding was signed in New York, where the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly is taking place, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, September 21. Linas Linkevicius, the Lithuanian Foreign minister, invited Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla to visit Lithuania and the Cuban foreign minister invited his Lithuanian counterpart to visit his country.

Lithuanian state watchdog‘s permission

The Lithuanian State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) has given a go-ahead to the shut-down Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) to use its new interim spent nuclear fuel storage facility, known as B1.

The inspectorate said it had Tuesday granted a license for operation of the storage facility, which allows the Ignalina plant to launch hot tests, which will involve moving of ten containers with spent nuclear fuel to the storage facility.

After the tests, INPP will be able to use the interim storage facility, with all of the spent nuclear fuel from the power plant’s both blocks stored at the facility by 2022. The INPP plans to store 190 containers in the B1 facility, which can accommodate slightly more than 200 containers.

The 193.5-million-euro storage facility was built and equipped, five to six years behind schedule, by a consortium of Germany’s Nukem Technologies and GNS.

Lithuania recalling defense attache from Russia

Lithuania‘s Defense Ministry is recalling Defense Attache to Russia Saulius Pikturna due to marriage to a resident of Crimea annexed by Russia.«The decision on his recall has been made in response to his plea in light of the changed family circumstances,» the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

Migration Department will stay

Lithuania‘s parliament has rejected a package of laws that envisaged scrapping of the Migration Department.Some 68 parliamentarians voted for rejection of the bills, as proposed by parliamentary committees, while four abstained. The proposal to eliminate the Migration Department and divide its functions among the Police Department, the State Border Guard Service and the Interior Ministry was made by former interior minister, Saulius Skvernelis. The government initially backed the initiative, however, revised its position during Seimas debates and said the institution should remain in place, as Europe is faced with the migration crisis.

Lithuania benefited to Soviet Union

Lithuania used to earmark about 6 percent of its national budget to the Soviet Union during the Soviet rule, which proves that Lithuania and other nations were not dependent on the Soviet Union but were its donors, a Latvian researcher has said.

Gatis Krumins, rector of the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, also emphasized that about a third of Lithuania‘s national budget went towards military structures fighting Lithuanian guerrilla in the first decade of the occupation.

«All literature from the Soviet era tells about the immense support from the central budget of the Soviet Union. However, the data I found about Lithuania suggests that it used to donate 5-6 percent to the Soviet Union’s budget, although the number is very high,» Krumins told BNS, a news agency, Lithuania in Vilnius on Tuesday, September 20.

Klaipėda LNG terminal should operate as regional

With Lithuania seeking EU funding to purchase the vessel of the Klaipėda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, a high-ranking European Commission official says that options should be explored to ensure the facility‘s «successful functioning on a regional scale.»

«The LNG terminal in Klaipėda undoubtedly implements the objectives of the Energy Union and the EU’s LNG strategy and one of its key pillars – security of supply,»Dominique Ristori, director general for energy at the European Commission, said in a press release after visiting the LNG terminal in Klaipėda on Tuesday, September 20.

«The Commission welcomed the development of this terminal and now we clearly see that it is delivering expected results – this year Lithuania, for the first time in history, will import more gas through the LNG terminal than from Gazprom,» the director general said.

Booze consumption  among teenagers drops

A survey of teenagers across Europe showed last year that the number of Lithuanian 15- and 16-year-olds who drank alcohol in the past month was below the average level in Europe. Use of other substances among Lithuanian teenagers was similar to that in other countries, show results of the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) published on Tuesday, September 20.

Conducted in 35 European nations last year, the survey revealed that 48 percent of teenagers had drank alcohol in the past 30 days, as compared to 34 percent of respondents in Lithuania.

Some 24 percent of Lithuanian teenagers said they smoked at least one cigarette in the past month (21 pct in Europe), while 18 percent of young Lithuanians said they had smoked marijuana at least once in their lives (16 pct in Europe).

Ref: 020/111.111.111.4104


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