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Wednesday 16.01.2019 | Name days: Lida, Lidija
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Week in Lithuania. Government to send revised martial law bill to Parliament

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Lithuanian troops along with the other troops from 11 NATO nations take part in the exercise in urban warfare during exercise in the mock town near Pabrade, Lithuania

The Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday, October 31, to submit a package of legislative amendments aimed at clarifying the legal regulation of martial law to the Parliament for approval.

The Defence Ministry says the proposed amendments would help ensure a smooth transition from a peacetime legal regime to a wartime one, fast decision-making and smooth functioning of public authorities and economic entities under a state of war. The bill provides for launching armed defence immediately after the signing of the respective presidential decree or Seimas resolution, without waiting for the document to be made public and take effect, as it is now. Partisan units would automatically become part of the armed forces. It is proposed that partisan units should be assigned to the armed forces by the commander-in-chief or a person authorized by him or her, or, in the absence of such a person, by the command of the national resistance command.

Government okays evacuation plan in case of accident at Belarus’ N-plant

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, October 31, a plan for the evacuation of people in the event of an accident at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant under construction in neighbouring Belarus some 50 kilometres from Vilnius. The plan calls for evacuating 6,000 Lithuanian residents living within 30 kilometres from Astravyets in case of a major accident at the facility. The Interior Ministry says the plan has been worked out taking into consideration the most adverse circumstances of an incident at the plant, such as its magnitude and unfavourable weather conditions.

PM rejects president’s criticism

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis rejected on Wednesday, October 31, criticism from President Dalia Grybauskaite’s office over the pace of defence budget growth. The government proposes to increase defence spending to 948 million euros next year, from 873 million euros this year. Based on the latest economic projections, this would account for 2.01 percent of GDP. The president-led State Defence Council agreed last spring that defence funding should reach 2.05 percent of GDP in 2019. Skvernelis attributes the difference in relative figures to economic growth estimates being higher than earlier projected.

Lithuania climbs to highest-ever place in WB rankings

Lithuania rose two notches to its highest-ever 14th position in the World Bank’s latest ranking of 190 economies on the ease of doing business, up from number 16 last year. In the Doing Business 2019 report, Lithuania outperformed both Latvia and Estonia, in 19th and 16th places, respectively. For the third year in a row, Lithuania’s best score is for the ease of registering property, at number three in the world. Also, it is ranked seventh in terms of enforcing contracts. Lithuania has been rated on the index since 2004. Its highest rating so far was number 15 in in 2005.

Court orders MG Baltic owner to pay taxes

Darius Mockus, president and the sole shareholder of the MG Baltic business group, has been ordered this week by a Vilnius court to pay the state almost 2 million euros in taxes for the shares in Minvista, an investment company, he and his wife sold several years ago. Vilnius Regional Administrative Court on Wednesday, October 31, rejected the Mockus’ appeal in a dispute with the State Tax Inspectorate. The court believes Mockus and his wife wanted to evade taxes by abusing the rights provided for by law. The dispute is related to a transaction, carried out on the last day of 2013, when Darius Mockus and his wife Ina sold their shares in Minvista to MG Baltic. The shares were sold on the last day of the year when a personal income tax credit stating that securities bought before 1999 and sold until that day are non-taxable, was still in place. The MG Baltic is also charged in a political corruption case in Lithuania, with its former vice president Raimondas Kurlianskis being among the defendants.

Slowdown signs are visible

Lithuania’s central banker says he sees no clear signs of an upcoming new economic crisis but warns about slowing growth. Vitas Vasiliauskas, the Bank’s chief, acknowledges that the “income turning to expenses” continues, although differently from ten years ago. According to him, the Bank’s assessment is based on how the 2019 budget numbers.

Activists draw President’s attention on China

Tibet’s supporters called on President Dalia Grybauskaite ahead of her visit to China this week to pay attention to human rights violations in China. Human rights activists on Friday held a symbolic farewell ceremony for the Lithuanian president outside the Presidential Palace. The Lithuanian leader was scheduled to meet with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and attend China’s first imports exhibition.

Small Planet Airlines in trouble

Small Planet Airlines which has filed for restructuring has a month to submit its updated business plan to the country’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAA). CAA Director Joris Gintilas says the airline’s future outlook will depend, among other factors, on the next steps by its key partners in Lithuania, the tour operators Novaturas and Tez Tour. Planet Airlines announced that it had filed for restructuring in Lithuania after launching the restructuring of its Polish and German subsidiaries due to financial difficulties. It says an investor is not necessary in Lithuania, but the company is still looking for one.

Wizz Air’s Vilnius-London plane forced to land

A Wizz Air plane en route from Vilnius to London’s Luton was on Monday, October 29, forced to land in Berlin due to a technical problem which came up during the flight. The plane landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. It said the plane underwent mandatory technical inspection, and it was decided to continue the flight on Tuesday, using another plane to minimize the delay.

Vilnius’ Paneriai Memorial to build new visitor centre

The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum plans to build a new visitor centre at the Paneriai Memorial Complex on the outskirts of Vilnius within the next few years and to continue updating its exhibitions. Markas Zingeris, the museum’s director, said this week that geophysical and archaeological research of recent years has led to major discoveries, including locating an escape tunnel dug in the Paneriai forest and finding nine new mass murder pits. According to Zingeris, research has revealed that the area where mass killings took place was four times as large as Soviet-era official figures suggested. Research of recent years, based on analyses of German reports of the time and other historical sources, has revealed that the Nazis and their local collaborators shot between 50,000 and 70,000 people, mostly Jews, in Paneriai in 1941 to 1944.


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