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Sunday 28.05.2017 | Name days: Vilhelms, Vilis
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Week in Lithuania. Swedish meatballs arrive on army dishes

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Lithuania’s Armed Forces have revised menus for troops starting May to include more options, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday, May 11.

The new menu will offer more fresh vegetables, salads and fruit. The stationary canteen will also serve cooked pasta with Bolognese sauce, curd spreads with herbs and vegetables, hot pepper stew, Swedish meatballs with sauce, even burgers and many other meals, which were not on the menu of Lithuanian troops, the press release says.

President will support non-Lithuanian names in passports with approval from watchdog

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė will support the proposals to allow non-Lithuanian characters of the Latin alphabet on the main page of personal documents, if a green light is received from the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language.

She spoke shortly after the bill on the spelling of first and last names in documents passed the first reading in the Seimas in a vote of 64 to 25 with 13 abstentions and will now be discussed at parliamentary committees. The bill is expected to return to the full parliament on Jun. 20.

The parliament also discussed an alternative version where the original names would be entered on an additional passport of the passport. The bill, which follows the Latvian example, was supported by 53 parliamentarians, 19 were against and 25 abstained.

Lithuanian Railways to scrap Vilnius-Moscow passenger service

Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, or LG) is scrapping its passenger service between Vilnius and Moscow in a move that is expected to save the state railway company 2 million euros annually, but passengers will continue to be able to take a Russian train to the Russian capital.

Starting next Monday, May 15 2017, LG’s cars will not be added to the Russian train traveling from Kaliningrad to Moscow via Vilnius LG last year saw the number of passengers on the Vilnius-Moscow service drop by 27 percent compared with 2015.

About 160 Lithuanian troops participate in military drills in Estonia

Around 160 Lithuanian troops will be taking part in the Spring Storm (Kevadtorm 2017) military exercise in Estonia for the next two weeks, the Lithuanian Defence Ministry said on Friday, May 12. Most of the troops are conscript soldiers from the Grand Duchess Birute Uhlan Battalion, it said. The Spring Storm drills have been held in Estonia annually since 2003.

President visits Southeast Asia

President Dalia Grybauskaitė left on Friday, May 12, for a visit to Thailand and Indonesia. Grybauskaitė will visit Thailand first, where she will meet with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for talks on boosting economic, science and education and culture ties between the two countries. The Thai princess last year paid an official visit to Lithuania.

Power outage cripples 9,000 Lithuanian households

Around 9,000 households in the regions of Vilnius and Kaunas were without electricity on Thursday, May 11, after a heavy snowfall in the eastern and central parts of the country overnight, the power distribution grid operator said. At 8 a.m., there were almost 5,500 customers without power in the region of Kaunas and another 3,000 in the region of Vilnius.

Commander of Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union proposed

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis proposes to appoint Lieutenant Colonel Gintaras Koryzna as commander of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union (LRU).Koryzna is currently a lecturer at the Estonia-based Baltic Defence College and has in the past served as commander of the Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion. Karoblis confirmed Thursday, May 11, that he will nominate Koryzna as commander to the LRU congress if the parliament’s Committee on National Security and Defence gives the go-ahead.

Prosecutors ask court to extradite fraud suspect to US

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office has asked a court to extradite Evaldas Rimašauskas, a Lithuanian national suspected of defrauding US-based Internet giants Facebook and Google of 100 million US dollars, to the United States. The Vilnius Regional Court has scheduled a hearing on the extradition request for Friday. The BBC has reported that Google and Facebook have confirmed that they fell victim to an alleged 100-million-dollar scam orchestrated by Rimašauskas.

The 48-year-old suspect was detained on March 16. A Vilnius court then issued a one-month arrest warrant, which was on Apr. 13 extended for another month.

US defence secretary can’t elaborate on Patriot systems

United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis said in Vilnius on Wednesday, May 10, that the US was ready to deploy defence systems in the Baltic states to deter Russia, however, has given no comment on the possibility to bring long-range defence systems Patriot.

He emphasized that NATO capabilities in Eastern Europe were exceptionally defensive, dismissing built-up of Russia’s military power in the region as a destabilizing factor.

Crowd gathers in cemetery to mark end of WWII

Hundreds of people gathered in Vilnius’ Antakalnis Cemetery on Tuesday, May 9, to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two.

The police say that up to 1,000 people, most of them wearing the orange-and-black St. George ribbons, attended the ceremony. To the sound of military marches, people laid red carnations and wreaths at the memorial to the victims of the war.

Among those present were Russia’s ambassador Alexander Udaltsov and Belarus’ ambassador Alexander Korol, as well as members of political parties representing ethnic minorities in Lithuania.

Baltics agree on grid synchronization via Poland

The prime ministers of the three Baltic countries and Poland on Monday, May 8, reached a preliminary agreement on synchronizing the power grids of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with the continental European network via the existing interconnection between Lithuania and Poland, known as LitPol Link, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaičiūnas said, however, that a second power link remained an open issue.

Lithuania wins in British court against Alstom

France’s Alstom has paid 13 million euros in compensation to Lithuania as ordered by London’s Southwark Crown Court in a case in which the French group’s Swedish energy unit Alstom Power was accused of corruption in Lithuania.

The money was transferred in July 2016 and will be given to Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba (Lithuanian Energy Production, or LEG), which is part of the state energy group Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy).Alstom Power between 2004 and 2009 upgraded LEG, which was then named Lietuvos Elektrine (Lithuanian Power Plant), for 208 million euros, installing flue gas desulphurization equipment at the plant. Neither Lietuvos Energija nor the Finance Ministry, the company’s shareholder, would comment on the information about the funds received and the use of the money.

LFGU remains most popular

The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, LFGU, remains the country’s most popular political force, however, its ratings declined by a third since the beginning of the year, while the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition conservatives climbed on the popularity ladder, shows a poll published on Monday, May 8.Should the general elections be held on the nearest Sunday, LFGU would be supported by 19.9 percent of those polled, down by 2.5 percentage points over the past month. The decline is within the margin error, however, the party’s popularity dropped by a third since early 2017, from 30.7 percent to 19.9 percent.

Latvian agency Travel RSP banned from operations in Lithuania

Latvia’s travel agency Travel RSP has no right to operate in Lithuania, as it is not listed as a provider of travel services, the Lithuanian State Tourism Department concluded. According to the statement, Travel RSP trips are offered by Lithuania’s travel agency Kodel Gi Ne LT, which is aware that the Latvian firm is not certified to operate in Lithuania.

 Lithuania removes roadblocks to OECD membership

Lithuania has made significant progress over the past two years in its efforts to become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and if it keeps the pace, it could join the club of economically strong, transparent and innovative nations in 2018, OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz says. According to him, Lithuania has done a good job improving its legal system and the transparency standards and management of state-owned enterprises, but it still has to carry through its forestry and road maintenance enterprise reforms to complete the OECD accession process.

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