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Sunday 16.06.2019 | Name days: Justīne, Juta
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Week in Lithuania. Conservatives pick Simonyte as presidential candidate

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Former Lithuanian Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte

Lithuania’s opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats has picked MP and former Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte as the party’s presidential candidate in a primary election held last weekend.

According to the party’s secretariat, Simonyte received 79 per cent of votes (16,418) from HU-LCD members and non-members who pre-registered to vote. And her rival – former diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas – got 21 per cent of votes (4,441).

Ruling party leader-related company pledges to stop buying fertilisers from a Russia-affiliated company

Agrokoncernas, a business group owned by Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, has pledged on Thursday, November 8, to stop buying fertilisers from Russia company Minudobreniya as its key shareholder Arkady Rotenberg is subject to international sanctions. The Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT claims that Agrokoncernas imports fertilisers from Minudobreniya via an intermediary in Dubai, although the company does not disclose which country it imports them from.

Rotenberg owns over 80 percent of the Russian company and has been subject to international sanctions since 2014 due to his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although Minudobreniya itself is not on the sanction list. Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended Lithuanian companies to refrain from business deals with Russians subject to sanctions over the events in Ukraine.

Lithuanian town unveils monument to slain Jews

A monument to the Jews who were killed in Vandžiogala in 1941 was unveiled in the small town in the district of Kaunas on Thursday, November 8. The memorial was erected next to Vandžiogala’s old cemetery through the efforts of the Kaunas district, Litvaks living in the United States, Israel’s embassy to Lithuania and the Jewish Community of Lithuania, the local authority said.

The Jews settled in Vandžiogala back in the 16th century. The community had their synagogue and school, according to the press release. More than 90 per cent of Lithuania’s total pre-war Jewish population of over 200,000 were killed by the Nazis and their local collaborators.

Fake news planted on a news website

A fake news story alleging that NATO is planning to attack Belarus was planted on Kas Vyksta Kaune (What’s on in Kaunas) during a cyber-attack in late October, the news website said on Thursday, November 8.

The staff was not aware of the fake news story, which was placed into the news archives because of the earlier date, until they were informed about the cyber-attack by the Lithuanian Defence Ministry on Wednesday, Vaidas Pilkauskas, head of Kas Vyksta, the owner of the website, said.

Constitutional court adjourns hearing of gay rights case

Constitutional Court on Thursday, November 8, adjourned the hearing of a case on the rights of gay people married abroad. The hearing was adjourned until December 5 after Ričardas Piličiauskas, acting deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court which had turned to the Constitutional Court, failed to attend the hearing.

The Constitutional Court was asked to look into whether Lithuania’s authorities rightfully refused to grant a temporary residence permit to a foreigner who married a citizen of the same sex abroad. Up until now, such permits have not been issued for the reason that Lithuania does not recognize same-sex marriages.

Ruling bloc fails to overturn presidential veto

Lithuania’s ruling block on Thursday, November 8, failed to muster enough votes to override President Dalia Grybauskaite’s veto of amendments aimed at providing a state subsidy to the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP). Sixty-eight members of the Seimas voted in favour of overturning the presidential veto, 47 voted against and two abstained. At least 71 votes are required to pass a bill that was returned by the president.

The amendments that would have ensured a subsidy of over 200,000 euros to the LSDLP, the minor ruling coalition partner of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), were supported by all LFGU lawmakers, except Raimundas Martinėlis, the LSDLP and several Order and Justice MPS. The opposition voted against. The Seimas also failed to gain sufficient backing to reject the presidential veto of an amendment to the Law on Budget, which would have allowed the government to borrow funds for the funding of new parties.

Outgoing ambassador to Warsaw receives Polish award

Lithuania’s outgoing ambassador to Poland, Šarūnas Adomavičius, has been awarded for his special merits in developing cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. The ambassador has received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, November 7. Diplomat Eduardas Borisovas will likely replace Adomavičius.

Court starts viewing video recordings

Vilnius Regional Court is starting viewing video recordings submitted to court as part of the high-profile political corruption case. So far, the court has listened to sound recordings only. A secretly-made video of a meeting between Gintaras Steponavičius and Raimondas Kurlianskis was viewed by the court on Wednesday, November 7.

The video’s quality, just like the quality of sound recordings, is rather poor, it breaks at some point and only the sound is audible. Three legal entities, including the Labour Party, the Liberal Movement and the MG Baltic business group, are charged in the political corruption case. Kurlianskis, a former vice president of the MG Baltic business group, is charged with bribing former lawmakers Eligijus Masiulis, Gustainis and Vytautas Gapšys. Steponavičius is also one of the defendants in the case.

Seimas rejects LRT probe conclusions

Lithuania’s parliament on Tuesday, November 6, rejected the conclusions of an ad hoc investigation commission on the public broadcaster LRT after 56 lawmakers voted in favour, 56 were against and three abstained. The parliament did not back the conclusions of the main parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs and now, under the Statute of the Seimas, they will go to a different parliamentary committee, the Committee on Culture, led by Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, for further consideration. The conclusions call for eliminating the LRT Administrative Commission and instead setting up a board of five to seven members.

They also call for partially changing the procedure for appointing members of the LRT Council to link it with the terms of office of the appointing authorities. The Seimas established the ad hoc commission in late December, 2017 to scrutinise the public broadcaster’s public procurement processes and contracts and analyse its management structure.

Ministry’s proposal on teaching Lithuanian to minority children

Education and Science Ministry proposes to start mandatory Lithuanian-language education in pre-school establishments for national minorities’ children at an earlier age, the daily Lietuvos Žinios reported on Tuesday, November 6. The ministry proposes to amend the law to introduce the requirement to allocate at least five hours per week to Lithuanian-language education in pre-school education programs of national minority schools.

The existing legislation requires allocating at least 4 hours per week to Lithuanian-language education in pre-primary education groups. Lithuanian-language education is not mandatory for pre-school-age children, but may be included in the program at the request of parents. Municipalities with large ethnic minority populations do not object to the idea, but Eugenijus Jovaiša, chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Education and Science, does not expect the amendments to be easily passed in the parliament.


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IN PICTURES: Victims of Communist genocide remembered in Latvia

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