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Week in Lithuania: PM clears no-confidence vote, top Court slaps LFGU, councillor fined for slander

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Last week, Lithuania suffered upset in 2019 Eurovision Song Contest; PM Saulius Skvernelis survived a vote of no-confidence by the ruling LFGU; the Constitutional Court ruled that the Seimas breached law in dealing with public broadcaster LRT.

POLITICS: PM survives party’s confidence vote

PM Saulius Skvernelis survived on Tuesday, May 14, a vote of no-confidence by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s (LFGU) political group in the Seimas, and the LFGU group has also changed its position and wants to stay in the ruling majority. During a secret ballot on Tuesday night, all 46 group members who attended the meeting voted in favour to express confidence in the prime minister. The prime minister himself had asked for such a vote and he did not take part in it.

Ruling party mulls changing general election date

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) is to propose to change the date of parliamentary elections for earlier after the country elects its new president, the ruling party’s leader said on Thursday, May 16. Karbauskis did not rule out the possibility of holding an early parliamentary election next spring.

Seimas speaker does not abandon dual citizenship bid

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, called on Wednesday, May 15, for continued efforts to amend the Constitution to allow dual citizenship to more Lithuanians. Pranckietis described Sunday’s referendum as a successful initiative, even though it did not cross the required threshold of «yes» votes to pass the amendment. The referendum met the required turnout threshold, but fell around 300,000 «yes» votes short of adopting the amendment.

INVESTIGATION: Seimas LRT probe panel breached Constitution

The ruling LFGU-orchestrated Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania breached the country’s Constitution when it established a special commission to investigate activity of the public broadcaster LRT, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday, May 16. The Court said such a commission’s establishment violated the Constitution’s article on the freedom of speech and the LRT’s independence from politicians.

FINANCE: Central bank chief survives no-confidence vote

The Lithuanian parliament did not pass a resolution expressing no-confidence in the central bank governor, Vitas Vasiliauskas, on Tuesday, May 14. Forty-seven MPs supported the no-confidence motion, 51 voted against and one abstained.

JUSTICE: Councillor fined for defamation of partisan leader

A Klaipeda court imposed on Tuesday, May 14, a fine of 12,000 euros on Viačeslav Titov, a local politician, for the defamation of the memory of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, one of the leaders of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisan resistance. The Klaipeda District Court found Titov guilty of incitement to hatred, denial of Soviet crimes and the defamation of the memory of a deceased person, Olga Sadovskaja.

Prosecutors dismiss allegations about pressure on CIA prison probe

Public allegations that prosecutors or politicians exerted influence or pressure on an investigation into secret CIA prisons are unfounded, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Wednesday, May 15. The office said it had refused to open a probe into the statements after checking information and questioning a person indicated by Julius Rėksnys, a prosecutor who aired these allegations in the media.

MEDIA: Lietuvos Rytas daily to be issued 3 times per week

Lithuanian company Lietuvos Rytas, operating one of the largest media groups in the country, plans to issue its daily newspaper with the same name three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, as of next year, the vz.lt news website reported. Several independent sources told the website the decision had been made already and would be announced with the launch of the 2020 subscription. Now the daily comes out five times per week.

President removes journalist from state awardee list

President Dalia Grybauskaite has removed Šarūnas Černiauskas, an investigative journalist who was sacked from the 15min.lt online news site last week, from the state awardee list, her press service said on Thursday, May 16. Černiauskas, who received the Medal of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas in February 2018, was removed from the list for discrediting the name of an awardee, it said. 15min said on Wednesday it had sent information on Černiauskas’ private information collection activity to law-enforcement officials.

BUSINESS: Lithuania’s PIS scheme was flawed

Lithuania’s public interest services (PIS) scheme that was in force in 2014 contained elements of state aid and distorted or threatened to distort competition, the EU Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday, May 15. The judgement is important for the fertilizer manufacturers Achema and Lifosa and the Orlen Lietuva crude refinery. The companies turned to courts over the PIS financing mechanism to challenge the requirement that businesses generating electricity for their needs should pay for public interest services.

Lithuania posts EU’s largest increase in new car sales

New car sales in Lithuania grew at the fastest rate in the European Union in the first four months of 2019, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). New passenger car registrations in Lithuania soared to 14,700 in January through April, up 53 percent from 9,610 a year-ago.

Refinery returns two shipments of tainted Russian crude

Polish-owned Lithuanian crude refiner Orlen Lietuva has returned two shipments of Russian oil contaminated with chlorine compounds, the business daily Verslo Žinios reported on Thursday, May 16. Orlen Lietuva says the tainted oil was not unloaded from the tankers at its Būtingė terminal and did not reach the Mažeikiai crude refinery in northwestern Lithuania.

ENTERTAINMENT: Lithuania fails to make it to Eurovision final

Lithuania’s Eurovision entry, Jurijus Veklenko, has failed to make it to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.  The 28-year-old with his song «Run with the Lions» did not get through Thursday’s second semi-final in Tel Aviv. Last year, Lithuania’s Ieva Zasimauskaitė qualified for the final and finished in 12th place. The country’s best-ever Eurovision finish came in 2006 when LT United with their song «We are the Winners» placed sixth in Athens.


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