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Week in Lithuania. Liberal Movement deprived of 6-month state grant

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Eugenijus Gentvilas, acting leader of the Liberal Movement

The Lithuanian Liberal Movement, the country’s Liberal party, has to be deprived of a six-month grant from the state budget, i.e., around 395,000 euros, for gross violation of financing rules, the Central Electoral Commission decided on Thursday, October 26.

«The Liberal Movement has been punished enough by our announcement of the gross violation, and although the law allows us refusing them the grant for up to two years, I think grant refusal for six months rather than a year is a proportional punishment for the first violation of the law,»  said the commission’s conservative member Vilius Semeška.

Eugenijus Gentvilas, acting leader of the Liberal Movement, said the party disagreed with the milder sanction.

«We do not admit guilt,» said Gentvilas. In his words, the VRK refusal to provide the Liberal Movement with the grant «executes justice without trial » .At the same time, the party’s acting leader said he could understand the commission’s tricky situation, as the grant decision should be made by Novermber 15, according to the law. Suspicions in a case of political corruption were brought against the Liberal Movement in September.

Cities receive Dutch tulip bulbs as Centennial Gift

Representatives of Lithuanian municipalities received a Centennial Gift in the form of tulip bulbs from the Netherlands on Friday, October 27. Ahead of the 100-year anniversary of Lithuania’s independence, the Embassy of the Netherlands has presented Lithuanian cities with 4,000 bulbs of outstanding tulips Amber Lithuania. The municipalities and local communities will plant the bulbs this fall, so that Amber Lithuania could bloom in symbolic signs of LT100 in public areas of the cities next spring, as Lithuania celebrates its statehood anniversary.

Lithuania to buy medium-range air-defence systems NASAMS

The Lithuanian Armed Forces has signed a contract on the acquisition of Norwegian medium-range air-defence systems NASAMS which will also strengthen the defence ability of the whole Baltic region. The document was signed by Lithuania’s Air Force Commander Colonel Dainius Gužas and Kjetil Reiten Myhra, executive vice-president of the Norwegian company Kongsberg. The state budget draft envisages 122.379 million euros for the acquisition and modernization of the medium-range air defence systems within the next three years. Air defence is one of the weakest spots in the Baltic states. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia currently only have short-range anti-aircraft defence systems with a range of 3 to 5 kilometres. The Norwegian missiles are capable of flying a few dozen kilometres and taking down targets at an altitude of 15 kilometres.

Lithuania, Luxembourg sign EU’s 1st renewable energy cooperation deal

Lithuania and Luxembourg signed on Thursday, October 26, a renewable energy deal, the first of its kind in the European Union, that will enable the Baltic country to sell a part of its renewable energy surplus for 10 million euros. Under the deal, Lithuania will transfer a part of its surplus to Luxembourg between 2018 and 2020 and will be paid at least 10 million euros by 2021 at the latest. The Baltic country will invest the proceeds in new renewable energy projects and research. The EU has set a target of at least 20 percent of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Lithuania reached the target back in 2014. The share of renewable energy in the country currently amounts to 26 per cent and is expected to rise to 30 per cent in 2020.

Police launch 41 online child pornography probes

Lithuanian police launched 41 investigations into the alleged dissemination of child pornography on the Internet as part of an operation carried out across the country in October. Police officials said in a news conference in the capital on Wednesday, October 25, that 18 suspects were identified during the inter-regional police operation on Oct. 9 through 12, adding that all of them are Lithuanian nationals living in Vilnius, Klaipeda, Siauliai and elsewhere. All of the suspects are men, mostly middle-aged. One of them is more than 70 years old. The police conducted around 50 searches and seized over 400 items, such as smart phones, computers and other devices. It is thought that child pornography was disseminated via special file sharing platforms.

Lithuania’s ‘Magnitsky act’ makes way in parliament

Lithuania’s Magnitsky legislation banning entry to foreigners involved in large-scale corruption, money laundering or human rights violations is making headway in the parliament. The Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday unanimously approved the respective amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens. Under the draft law approved the committee, a foreigner would be banned from coming to Lithuania for up to five years if there are serious grounds to believe that he or she has committed a serious or very serious crime against a person in a foreign country and human rights and freedoms have been violated as a result of this, has committed a corruption offense or has been involved money laundering, or is on the national list of foreigners denied entry to a EU, EFTA and NATO member state.

Court merges 2 Jan 13 coup trials

A Vilnius court has decided to merge two cases of the January 13 trial into one – criminal charges against two former Soviet officers will be added to the big case heard for almost two years. The hearing was attended by defence lawyers of two of the new defendants, former Soviet officers Vladimir Kotlyarov and Sergey Kostets. Kotlyarov and Kostets are represented by two state-appointed lawyers. According to the indictment, both of the defendants are citizens of Russia living in Pskov. Before the latest addition, the January 13 trial included 64 defendants but will now try 66 individuals. Merely two of them are present in hearings, while the rest are out of reach for Lithuania’s law-enforcement.

Lithuania celebrates 25 years of Constitution

Past Wednesday, October 25, marked 25 years since the adoption of Lithuania’s main law, the Constitution. A solemn ceremony was held at the parliament to mark the occasion and a special exhibition was opened at a gallery in the building. Among participants of the event were Moldova’s Constitutional Court president Tudor Pantiru, officials of the county’s parliament, representatives of Constitutional Courts of Georgia and Ukraine, former Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, etc. To mark 25 years of the Constitution, the front of the building of the Constitutional Court was adorned with memorial plaques picturing the Lithuanian Independence Act of Feb. 16 of 1918 and the Restoration of Independence Act of March 11 of 1990.

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