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Week in Lithuania: another review of Revolut, minister meets Ukraine’s president-elect, media owner issues

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Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis

BNN offers a summary of past week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Diplomacy; Legislation; Politics; Business; Health; starting with the topic of government plans to reassess banking start-up Revolut.

PM Saulius Skvernelis wants another review of Revolut

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has said this week that another review is needed to determine if Revolut, a UK-based fintech startup that is setting up a specialised bank in Lithuania, meets the country’s national security interests. Stasys Jakeliūnas, chairman of the parliament’s Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), wants the commission to look once again at whether Revolut meets Lithuania’s national security interests, saying that new circumstances have emerged. The lawmaker says he has doubts as to the start-up’s business model, money-laundering control and links to Russia.

DIPLOMACY: Foreign minister meets Ukraine’s president-elect in Kiev

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius went on Thursday, April 25, to a visit to Kiev that included a meeting with Ukraine’s president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky. In Kiev, Linkevičius also met with outgoing President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, as well as with Lithuanian experts working in Ukraine.

LEGISLATION: MP seeks to ban media ownership by alcohol, tobacco-related businesses

MP Vytautas Bakas has called on adding natural and legal persons engaged in the production or trade of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, as well as legal persons founded or owned by them, to the list of persons and organizations that cannot be «producers and disseminators of public information and their participants». The list currently includes state and municipal institutions and agencies, and banks and political parties. LFGU Chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis backs the proposal. If passed, the amendment would bar MG Baltic, one of Lithuania’s largest business groups, from owning the LNK, BTV, TV1, Info TV and Liuks! television channels.

Law on relocation of people of Lithuanian descent

The Seimas adopted on Friday, April 26, a law opening the way for using public funds to help people of Lithuanian descent to move from humanitarian crisis zones to Lithuania. The Law on the Relocation of Persons to the Republic of Lithuania was passed unanimously with 96 votes and is to come into force in June. Those eligible for relocation will include Lithuanian citizens, people of Lithuanian descent and those who would have the right to have their citizenship reinstated, as well as their family members.

POLITICS: Lithuania blacklists British Holocaust denier Irving

 David Irving, a British historian convicted of denying the Holocaust, has been banned from entering Lithuania until April 15, 2024.  Evelina Gudzinskaitė, director of the Migration Department, informed on Wednesday, April 24, that the decision had been made based on material from the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said earlier this month that Irving was not welcome in Lithuania.

Lithuania calls for tighter sanctions on Russia

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry called on Thursday, April 25, for the tightening of sanctions against Russia following Moscow’s decision to ease the process for granting Russian citizenship to residents of Eastern Ukraine.  The ministry denounced Moscow’s decision to simplify the procedure for issuing Russian passports to residents of the separatist-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as «unlawful interference in Ukraine’s domestic affairs» and «gross violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity».

Conservatives overtake ruling LFGU in new poll

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) in April lost its top position in the popularity rankings to the opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), according to the latest opinion poll conducted by Vilmorus and published by the daily Lietuvos Rytas. The conservatives have support from 20.8 percent of all respondents and 31 percent, or almost one-third, from those who would vote. The LFGU dropped to second position with 15.8 percent support from all respondents and 23.4 percent from those who said they would turn out for an election, pollster said.

BUSINESS: Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Žinios to close down

The daily Lietuvos Žinios will publish its final edition on April 30 as its publisher will be wound up due to its loss-making, with its publishing rights and intellectual property planned to be sold, Achemos Grupė, its owner, said. The closure of the daily will leave only two national news papers in Lithuania – Lietuvos Rytas and Vakaro Žinios. The business paper Verslo Žinios is also published daily. The daily Lietuvos Žinios has a print run of 5,200 copies and Lzinios.lt ranks 16 among Lithuanian Internet portals.

HEALTH: Number of measles cases continues to rise

Some 538 cases of measles have been diagnosed in Lithuania since the start of this year, the latest figures from the National Public Health Centre showed on Thursday, April 25.The measles patients include 130 children. Some 307 of all cases have been registered in the county of Kaunas. Thirty measles cases were recorded in Lithuania in the full year 2018.

Health insurance fund to buy drugs for prisoners with AIDS

The Lithuanian government said on Wednesday, April 24, is likely to give the final go-ahead for the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to purchase medicines for prisoners with dangerous communicable diseases.

PM denies calling journalists «dung-beetles»

The Lithuanian government denied on Wednesday, April 24, that Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis called journalists «dung-beetles» last year. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index report released last week that Skvernelis had allegedly called journalists «dung-beetles» during a Cabinet discussion on the media’s access to registry data. According to RSF, Skvernelis used the word «to justify that journalists and media are not worthy of free access to registry data».  Lithuania rose six notches to number 30 in the annual World Press Freedom Index.


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