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Wednesday 24.05.2017 | Name days: Marlēna, Ilvija, Ziedone
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Week in Lithuania. Syrian refugees arrive, Iraqis leave for Sweden

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Another 11 refugees – originally from Syria but lately living in a refugee camp in Greece – have arrived in Lithuania under the European Union‘s  refugee resettlement programme.

A total of 73 refugees have been relocated to Lithuania under the EU program. Lithuania has committed itself to receiving 1,105 refugees over two years, mainly from Syria and Iraq. The refugees are distributed among EU member-states to ease the burden for countries in southern Europe.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi refugee family that was resettled to Lithuania last December has left for Sweden. The Iraqi family came to Lithuania from Greece last December. Lietuvos Ryto TV reports that the family father, who was working at a furniture manufacturing plant, asked for a leave until July 11, but did not return to his job. The family of two adults and two children were living in a summer house owned by Lithuanian liberal MEP Petras Auštrevičius who had volunteered to give them temporary accommodation near Vilnius.

Lithuania owes some work for OECD

Lithuania still needs to tackle bribery-related legal issues in order to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Delfi.lt website reported. Lithuania must expand the criminal liability of legal persons, ensure that the proceeds of bribery of a public official are subject to confiscation without exceptions and ensure that legal person cannot avoid responsibility by using intermediaries in other countries, Audris Kutrevičius of the Public Relations Office at the Ministry of Justice told the website.

Lithuania set to boost electric vehicle infrastructure

Lithuania plans a six-time increase in electric car infrastructure next year, pumping 3 million euro for developing infrastructure for electric cars next year. In 2017, Lithuania plans to build over 150 new charging stations in cities and over 30 near highways. The investment, much of which will come from the European Union funds, is part of the Ministry of Communication‘s plan to cut environmental pollution by cars.

Lithuanian PM to skip Rio Olympics

Citing exorbitant air fares to Rio De Janeiro, the host of 2016 Olympic Games, Lithuania‘s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius will not attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.«Even when we started planning the visit to Brazil six months ago and tried to find the cheapest tickets in accordance to the Public Procurement Law, the fares seemed rather inflated. After learning the price for the whole delegation, the prime minister said he could not approve of the spending and refused to go to Rio de Janeiro,» Butkevičius‘ spokeswoman Evelina Butkutė-Lazdauskienė said. In her words, offers were received from three agencies, and the lowest airline fare for four members of the delegation was 44,000 euro. Without public procurement, prices on ticket or airline websites are several times lower, said the spokeswoman. President Dalia Grybauskaitė left for Brazil earlier on Thursday, August 4, to support the country‘s athletes in the Olympic Games.

Hazardous bacteria found

Analysis of frozen food seized during a search in Judex, a Kaunas-based Lithuanian frozen food production company, has revealed hazardous bacteria, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Thursday, August 4.«After a preliminary analysis, experts established that some of the samples of the seized production contain bacteria that are a health hazard. The State Food and Veterinary Service has been notified of the results. It was addressed with a request to conduct a thorough check of the circumstances,» reads the press release. The searches were conducted as part of an influence peddling investigation. Prosecutors suspect that state regulators gave Judex a pass on food safety violations. Suspicions of abuse of power and document forgery have been brought against Jonas Milius, head of the State Food and Veterinary Service. Investigators have also questioned MP Petras Gražulis whose family is linked to Judex.Prosecutors say that it would be inappropriate to decide on whether to dismiss Jonas Milius, Lithuania‘s chief veterinary officer who is suspected of abuse of office and document forgery, while he is on vacation.

Dairy plans to delist from Vilnius bourse

Žemaitijos Pienas, a leading Lithuanian dairy group, is planning to delist its shares from the Nasdaq Vilnius stock exchange and go private.

Žemaitijos Pienas’ shareholders will be asked vote on the delisting proposal on Aug. 26, the company said.

In order to delist, three-fourths of votes at the shareholder meeting are sufficient. A mandatory tender offer to buy all outstanding shares should then be launched.

EC to look into Lithuania‘s complaints over Belarusian NPP

The European Commission is looking into the address filed by three Lithuanian ministers about the Belarusian nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets, some 50 km from Vilnius.
«I can confirm that this letter has been received. We are now looking into it and as all letters sent to the Commission, also this letter will be duly replied to,» EC‘s Spokeswoman for Climate Action and Energy Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said.

She also said that the EC wanted Belarus to conduct stress tests of the nuclear utility.

Customs nab 400,000 euros worth of drugs

Lithuanian customs officers found almost 400,000 euros worth of psychotropic tablets hidden in a car they stopped at the border with Latvia last weekend, the Customs Criminal Service said on Thursday, August 4. Two young men, identified only by their initials G. K. and M. B., told the officers that they were heading for Finland when their Seat Alhambra was stopped for a check near the village of Germaniškis at around 5 AM on Saturday. During the check, the officers discovered a large number of packs of Subutex, a prescription medication with psychotropic properties, tucked between two small lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries in the car’s battery box. The batteries were installed in the emptied automotive battery box to provide power to the car, leaving enough room for hiding the drugs. A tablet of Subutex contains 8 milligrams of buprenorphine and is said to cost up to 150 euro per tablet on the black market in Finland.

Oldest building in Kaunas to be restored

What is believed to be one of the oldest stone buildings in Kaunas will undergo major restoration. After the conservation-restoration works are complete, the building that faces the City Hall will regain some of its sixteenth-century façade. The structure is believed to be one of the oldest surviving stone buildings in Kaunas. Photo LRT Architect Asta Prikockienė, who analysed the building on 2 Muitinės Street in central Kaunas, says that the structure dates back to the late 15th century and was reconstructed three times during the 16th century. The building is believed to have housed the first city hall and used as the residence of Lithuania’s grand dukes and Polish kings when they visited Kaunas.

Polish party leader not to run for Seimas

MEP Valdemar Tomaševski, the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and the Union of Christian Families, has decided not to run for parliament in elections this October. «As far as I know, he’s is not going (to run as candidate),» the party‘s member MP Leonardas Talmontas said. In his words, the decision was made during a meeting of the party‘s top leaders earlier this week. The politician refused to comment on the causes behind the decision, adding that they should be given by Tomaševski himself.

NGOs slam new sexual education programme

Several dozen people, rallied by non-governmental organizations, held a protest action outside the Ministry of Education and Science. They are critical of the new sexual education programme that the ministry is to approve, saying it is too conservative and fails to meet the needs of school students. The protesters called for a more liberal approach to sexual education, saying that the expert group which drafted the programme failed to take into account recommendations of the World Health Organization. Moreover, under the programme, students would not be properly informed about LGBT people or contraception, critics say. The programme relies too heavily on values preached by the Catholic Church, according to them.

Lithuania riled by coin

A new five-ruble coin issued by the central bank of Russia has irritated Lithuania by including its capital Vilnius among the European cities liberated from the Nazis by the Red Army. The series of coins is dedicated to «Cities and Capitals Liberated by Soviet Troops from German Nazi Invaders» and features Kiev, Minsk, Chisinau, Bucharest, Tallinn, Riga, Belgrade, Warsaw, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Berlin and Prague. The coin dedicated to Vilnius portrays a statue of Soviet soldiers that used to stand on the Green Bridge in the Lithuanian capital until last summer, when it was removed. An inscription frames the city‘s name between two five-pointed stars with a date, July 13, 1944, when the Red Army entered Vilnius. Lithuanians maintain that the country was not liberated by the Soviets, but rather occupied.

Lithuanian conscripts feel cheated

When Lithuania reintroduced military conscription last year, politicians were throwing around promises of various benefits to sweeten the deal for the country‘s youngsters who were suddenly facing nine months of military service. Some of them have found that these promises should have been taken with a grain of salt. One of the promises was that the state might cover up to 50 per cent of college tuition for students who had served in the army. This deal seemed particularly attractive to one young man who feels has been cheated.

Fire incident reported at closes Ingalina NPP

Rising smoke was noticed above Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, a facility in the process of decommissioning in eastern Lithuania, on Monday, August 1, evening. The incident was immediately reported to Visaginas fire services and all necessary measures to ensure safety have been taken, the plant said in a statement. Fire-fighters arrived at the site in about 15 minutes and found small wooden items burning in room 719. The incident did not interrupt operations at Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, according to the statement.

Foreign minister sceptical about Russian proposal

Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says that the agreement to switch on transponders in warplanes above the Baltic Sea will not solve safety issues, if Russian fighter-jets continue performing their dangerous manoeuvres. Linkevičius spoke in comment of the statement issued by Russia‘s Defence Ministry about Moscow’s readiness for consultations with Lithuania and other countries in the Baltic Sea region about keeping automatic transponders on during military aviation flights above the Baltic Sea. Lithuania and NATO Allies will consider the Russian proposal, but it should be judged by specific actions, not words, just like other promises and invitations from Russia, said the minister.

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