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Week in Lithuania. Law enforcers apprehend three suspected of spying for Russia

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Three citizens of Lithuania have been detained in Lithuania on the suspicion of spying for Russia in return for financial remuneration, the law-enforcement said on Thursday, February 1.

The individuals are suspected of providing information about military and strategic objects in response to requests from Russian intelligence agencies. The suspects were detained in the framework of two separate investigations. In the first probe, suspicions were brought against a civilian resident of Siauliai, northern Lithuania, who earlier worked for the Air Force, and a Lithuanian citizen who has a permanent residence permit to live abroad.

In the second investigation, suspicions were brought against a Lithuanian civilian who «received money for information about military objects related with the Navy,» Criminal Police chief Rolandas Kiškis told journalists.

The investigation was opened on a tip-off from military intelligence and involved a few dozen searches. The suspects face up to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors say a total of 12 persons have been identified in Lithuania since 2014 who faced spying suspicions. Five of the individuals have already been sentenced to jail terms.

RB Rail AS shareholders discontent over CEO Baiba Rubesa

Shareholders of RB Rail AS, the joint venture established to oversee the Rail Baltic railroad project, expressed dissatisfaction on Thursday, February 2, with the actions ofBaiba Rubesa, the CEO of RB Rail ASm but the project is expected to continue as planned.

According Karolis Sankovskis, deputy chair of the supervisory board of RB Rail and CEO of the Lithuanian shareholder of the joint venture, the Lithuanian and Estonian shareholders voted to express no-confidence in Rubesa, whereas the Latvian shareholder sustained.

Rubesa was elected to head the RB Rail board in October of 2015. Before taking the post, she has headed Statoil Latvia, worked in Statoil’s branch in Azerbaijan and was on the supervisory board of the Latvian bank Citadele.

Professor resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Jonas Gasiūnas, a renowned artist, professor at the Vilnius Academy of Art and National Prize winner, has stepped down after anonymous accusations of sexually exploiting his female students. Gasiūnas pleaded not guilty.

Vilnius Airport to renovate passenger terminal

Vilnius Airport is next month launching a four-year, 60-million-euro major renovation of its passenger terminal to improve passenger service and increase the terminal’s capacity. «The terminal was designed to serve around 3.5 million passengers annually. This figure has already increased to 3.8 million over the past few years. This is why the decision was made to launch the terminal’s reconstruction as soon as possible,» Vilnius Airport CEO Olaf Martens said at a news conference on Tuesday, January 30.

Chinese more active in Lithuania

Lithuania last year saw a decline in the overall number of patent applications, but Chinese applicants were more active than in earlier years, the State Patent Bureau said. The bureau forecasts that the number of patent and trademark applications will rise this year. The number of national patent applications, filed under the Lithuanian Law on Patents, declined by 16.9 percent last year, but China’s applicants were active last year. The bureau expects the number of applications from China to rise further this year.

Navalny’s aides covered protests in Russia from Lithuania

Last week’s nationwide protests in Russia ignited by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny were covered online by his associates who were in Lithuania at that time, The New York Times reported. According to the paper, Ruslan Shavedinov, a spokesman for Navalny’s campaign, and Kira Yarmysh, who works for the opposition leader and his foundation, were detained in Moscow on Tuesday, January 30, on their return from Lithuania.

President:  invest in teachers

Lithuania must invest in the teaching profession as the nation’s freedom and future depends on teachers, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday, February 1. Making the teaching profession prestigious by 2025 is one of the three top «ideas for Lithuania» that were unveiled on Thursday as part of a national initiative that was led by the media and the state’s leaders and lasted for almost half a year.

The other two top ideas are to legalise dual citizenship and to ensure support for young families in purchasing housing and to cut bureaucratic red tape by digitizing public services. The top ideas were selected from 1,500 entries by experts and the general public.

President sees off Olympic team

President Dalia Grybauskaitė met on Thursday, February 1, with Lithuania’s national team that was on the way to the 23rd Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.

The president gave the athletes Lithuania’s national flag that will be carried during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, the president’s office said.

Vilnius-based EHU can operate until July 2019

European Humanities University (EHU), whose students are mostly from Belarus, will be able to continue operations in Vilnius under its old authorization until July 2019, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, January 31. It is also planned that EHU could apply for a new license after reinforcing its academic and scientific potential.EHU in late 2017 received a negative assessment from the Lithuanian Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education.

Heads may face sanctions for neglecting cyber-security

The heads of Lithuanian public bodies may in the future face sanctions for neglecting cyber-security.«Such legal regulation is possible and (legislation) is being drafted regarding the responsibility of the heads of institutions for failing to implement the legislative provisions (regarding cyber-security),» Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis told reporters on Wednesday, January 31. Arnoldas Pikžirnis, an adviser to the prime minister, said that it was planned to table the respective draft legislation to the Seimas during the spring session.

Stadium tender talks to continue with one bidder only

Negotiations in the Lithuanian national stadium concession tender will be continued with the sole remaining participant – Axis Industries, the engineering products and solutions company operated by Icor concern, and its partners.

The Vilnius municipality said that the offer filed by Vilniaus Nacionalinis Stadionas (Vilnius National Stadium) was rejected by the tender commission, therefore, Axis Industries is the only company invited to the next phase. Its will be assessed by mid-June, with negotiations with potential builder of the stadium planned afterwards. Signing of the concession contract is planned for the summer of 2019.

Euroapotheca cleared to buy Swedish pharmacy chain

Euroapotheca, the owner of Eurovaistine, a major Lithuanian pharmacy chain, has obtained regulatory approval for its takeover of a chain of nearly 160 pharmacies in Sweden. Euroapotheca, which is part of Vilniaus Prekyba (VP), one of Lithuania’s biggest business groups, said on Friday that it had received the green light from Sweden’s competition authority to buy 100 per cent of shares in Apoteksgruppen i Sverige Holding (AGHAB), a company that provides franchise services to 189 pharmacies operating under the Apoteksgruppen brand, from the Swedish government. The Lithuanian company expects to finalise the deal next week.

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