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Week in Lithuania. Amnesty of mothers in prison proposed for papal visit

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Pope Francis leads a mass in St Peter’s square for the canonization of four blessed nuns, whose two lived in Ottoman Palestine, in Vatican

Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), has proposed announcing an amnesty on the occasion of Lithuania’s centenary and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.

Karbauskis has registered an amendment to the amnesty law, which would pardon pregnant women and women with minor children, sentenced to prison for less than six years. Moreover, people over 65, those with medium or severe disabilities and those who committed their crimes being underage and sentenced to less than three years in prison would also be pardoned. Others would see their sentences reduced significantly.

Head of Customs Department resigns

Arūnas Adomėnas, director general of Lithuania’s Customs Department, has stepped down. He will assume the position of an adviser at the department’s International Relation Division, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday, July 5.

Lithuania announces papal visit’s official program

The official program of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Lithuania has been announced on Thursday, July 5. The pope will arrive in Lithuania on Saturday, Sep. 22. His plane is scheduled to land at Vilnius Airport at 11.30 a.m. A welcome ceremony is planned there. Later on, the pope will meet with the Lithuanian president, representatives of the government and the public as well as diplomats at the Presidential palace in central Vilnius.

At 4.30 p. m., Pope Francis will visit the Gate of Dawn chapel, meet with young people in the Cathedral Square and visit the Vilnius Cathedral. On Sunday, Sep. 23, Pope Francis will go to Kaunas at 8.15 a.m. and will celebrate Mass in Kaunas’ Santaka Park. Later on, he will have lunch with bishops and meet with representatives of the clergy at Kaunas Cathedral. Upon his return to Vilnius, the pope will pray at the Museum of Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights.

Lithuania officially joins OECD

Lithuania has officially become the 36th member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The instrument of ratification of Lithuania’s accession to the Convention on the OECD was deposited with the French government on Thursday, the Lithuanian president’s office said. President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Thursday, July 5, bestowed a state award on OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, on a visit to Vilnius, for his support to Lithuania in its efforts to join the organisation.

Government declares emergency over drought

The Lithuanian government has decided to declare a nationwide state of emergency due to a prolonged drought to allow farmers who get EU support to avoid sanctions and to facilitate negotiations with buyers of their products. Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys says that farmers remain in a difficult situation despite recent rainfall, adding that prices for some food products may rise due to the drought. Based on data for 2006, when a very similar drought occurred in Lithuania, it is forecasts that between 15 percent and 50 percent of summer crops may be lost, according to Surplys.

PM doubts that Belarus will implement EC recommendations

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has expressed his doubts that Belarus will implement the European Commission’s recommendations on the safety of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant.

But, he added, Lithuania must continue demanding that they be implemented. His comments came in response to the Peer Review report of the stress tests carried out at the Astravyets NPP in Belarus, endorsed by the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).

President signs pension system changes into law

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Wednesday, July 4, signed 26 amendments paving the way for the implementation of the pension accumulation reform, endorsed by the Seimas, as of the start of the next year. According to the president, the changes will allow increasing state pensions not only for people now receiving lower pensions but also for all existing pensioners, the presidential press service said.

President congratulates Trump on American Independence Day

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has extended congratulations to US President Donald Trump on the 242nd Independence Day of the United States of America. Grybauskaitė underlined that the support extended by the people of the United States to Lithuania’s freedom has always been precious to Lithuania and carried special meaning in the centennial year of its restored statehood, and that friendship and commitment to strengthen bilateral ties is a top priority, the presidential office said in a statement.

Parliament approves overhaul of health facilities

The Lithuanian parliament has approved an overhaul of health facilities that gives the health minister the right to decide on the network of such facilities. The amendments envisage, among other things that health facilities within the minister-approved network will be given priority in signing contracts with Territorial Health Insurance Funds (THIFs). Private inpatient facilities will be able to conclude contracts with the THIFs only if they provide services that cannot be ensured by public hospitals. Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga has said that 4,500 publicly-financed hospital beds are currently unused or patients are hospitalized unnecessarily.

Song Festival starts in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Song festival, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Lithuania’s independence, was taking place in Vilnius throughout the week. Over 12,000 people take part in the festival’s main events in Vingis Park. The Folklore Day on Tuesday, July 3, was dedicated to Lithuania’s outstanding statesmen, especially Jonas Basanavičius, chairman of the Council of Lithuania which signed the independence act on Feb. 16, 1918. On Wednesday, July 4, a symbolic rye field was set up in Kalnai Park (the Hill Park) and twenty pregnant women will cross it. All in all, 36,000 people are expected to take part in the festival.

MP avoids impeachment

MP Arturas Skardžius, a member of the Social Democratic Labour Party political group in the Seimas, has avoided impeachment after the parliament endorsed the conclusions of a special commission, stating that there’s no basis for the impeachment procedure. 67 lawmakers voted in favour of the conclusions, 33 were against and 13 abstained. The impeachment was initiated by a group of lawmakers who alleged that he might have committed a gross violation of the Constitution and his MP oath by leasing his land to wind farms and later pushing through amendments on renewable energy resources.

President signs laws on tax overhaul

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has signed the laws overhauling the country’s tax system, adopted by the Seimas. For the laws to come into effect early next year, they must be published six months earlier. The laws are related to the personal income tax, state social insurance, health insurance, tax administration, the profit tax, public procurement, VAT as well as laws on charity and support.


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