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Week in Lithuania. Russia permitted to have more voting precincts in Lithuania

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The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, January 24, gave the green light for Moscow to increase the number of voting precincts in Lithuania during this year’s Russian presidential election slated in March.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said that the ministry had sent a note allowing Russia to set up voting sites in Kaunas, Šiauliai and Visaginas for Russian nationals living or visiting Lithuania to cast their votes. «Russia asked for additional permissions to arrange polling stations in Kaunas, Visaginas and Siauliai and it was granted these permissions,» Rasa Jakilaitienė, the spokeswoman, said. Polling stations will also be set up at the Russian embassy in Vilnius and its Consulate General in Klaipėda without a separate request from Moscow.

Panel hears STT info on unlawful influence on political processes

The Lithuanian parliament’s National Security and Defence Committee on Wednesday, January 24, heard information from the Special Investigation Service (STT) about possibly unlawful influence of businesses and interest groups upon political processes, however, the committee’s chairman Vytautas Bakas refused to elaborate, saying the report was classified.

Bakas confirmed, however, that the meeting addressed possibly unlawful funding of political parties, however, did not disclose whether the panel received more information than there is in connection to the political corruption case that has already been handed to court.

President in Davos warns against globalist-protectionist divide

President Dalia Grybauskaitė warned against a widening divide in the world between protectionist countries and free trade advocates as she starts discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, January 25. According to the president, the trends toward growing protectionism «are vivid and quite threatening,» which «usually leads to isolation, self-isolation and economic downturn».

In Davos, Grybauskaitėtook part in the forum’s key discussion on «Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World» and in a session on «Central and Eastern Europe: A New Agenda for the Continent».

Constitutional court rules ceiling on maternity pay are okay

Lithuania’s regulation that sets a ceiling on the amount of maternity/paternity pay does not run counter to the Constitution, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday, January 24. The Constitutional Court was asked by a Vilnius court to look at a provision in the Law on Sickness and Maternity Social Insurance that limits the maximum compensatory salary based on which the amount of a maternity payment is calculated to 3.2 times the current year’s insured income, which currently amounts to 1,523.2 euros.

The ceiling on benefits helps ensure at least the minimum amount of maternity/paternity pay to the lowest income earners, it said.

Lithuania opens 8th honorary consulate in Sweden

Lithuania’s 8th consulate in Sweden has been opened in the city of Linkoping. Ulrik Lindblad was appointed as Lithuania’s honorary consul and assigned the consular unit of the Ostergotland county, the Foreign Ministry said. During the solemn opening ceremony on Wednesday, Lithuania’s Ambassador to Sweden Algimantas Rimkūnas noted that the honorary consulate in Linkoping, which is known for the Saab corporation and other companies working in the field of modern technologies, as well as a university, would provide good cooperation conditions with Lithuanian companies and research institutions.

Army to double area of training grounds by 2022

Expansion of the main training grounds of the Lithuanian Armed Forces will result in a double area of the facilities by 2022, the Defence Ministry said on Friday, January 26. The area of the Lithuania’s largest General Silvestras Žukauskas training grounds near Pabradė, eastern Lithuania, should go from 85 to 176 square km.

Meanwhile, the territory of Gaižiūnai training grounds in the Jonava district, central Lithuania, will be enlarged by a factor of over two – from 52 to 125 square km to accommodate company-sized units with support elements.In addition to the main training grounds in Gaižiūnai and Pabradė, development plans of the training grounds in Kaunas, Klaipeda, the Telšiai district and Kazlų Rūda are also being drafted.

PayPal considers investment in Lithuania – presidential adviser

Electronic payment system company PayPal is interested in investment opportunities in Lithuania, says Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s adviser after a meeting with the company’s representative in Davos on Thursday, January 25. Her adviser Nerijus Aleksiejūnas said he briefed PayPal vice-president Richard Nash on Lithuania’s efforts to become a regional fintech centre.

Lithuania considers easier party membership

The Lithuanian government is considering simplified membership in political parties of Lithuania for citizens of other countries of the European Union (EU) to avoid litigation with the European Commission.Brussels has said that the current language of the law is clearly discriminatory towards non-Lithuanians.

Under the current scheme, citizens of other EU nations can only join parties in Lithuania after at least five years of uninterrupted residence. The European Commission has warned that failure to take action within two months could result in a case to the European Court of Justice.

Food group Vičiūnai sets up company in UK

Vicčiūnų Grupė (Viciunai Group), a leading Lithuanian food product group that is controlled by Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis, said that it has set up a company in the United Kingdom, the last major European market where it did not have its sales and distribution unit.

According to Vičiūnų Grupė CEO Šarūnas Matijošaitis, the group already has companies in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy, which also allows it to operate in neighbouring Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal and the Netherlands.

American gets prison sentence in Lithuania for rape

A Vilnius court on Wednesday, January 24, sentenced Eric Georgoulakos, an American national, to three years and a half in prison for raping a young woman, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

The Vilnius District Court also ordered the 27-year-old American to compensate the victim for non-material damage.

The man allegedly forced the woman to have sex against her will in a hostel in Vilnius last July. The woman turned to the police, and the suspect was arrested shortly afterwards. According the Prosecutor General’s Office, Georgoulakos back in 2013 was detained in the U.S. on charges of second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon and received a three-year prison sentence and an additional 18-month suspended prison sentence. The Vilnius court’s judgment can be appealed.

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