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Wednesday 19.02.2020 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania marks 25th anniversary of Soviet army's withdrawal

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Last week, Lithuania marked the 25th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Soviet army. The last Soviet army echelon left Lithuania at 11.46 p.m. on August 31, 1993.

A solemn ceremony was held in Independence Square in Vilnius on this occasion. Troops from the Lithuanian army’s Guard of Honour raised the Lithuanian flag as the country’s anthem was performed.

The ceremony was attended by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Speaker of the Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Vytautas Landbsergis, speaker of the Supreme Council-Reconstituent Seimas, etc. Around five divisions were stationed in the Lithuanian territory during the Soviet times, including around 34,500 soldiers, 1,000 tanks, around 180 aircraft and 1,901 IFVs.

Contentious authority protection amendments

Human rights defenders criticise proposed amendments, submitted by the Ministry of the Interior, which would authorise the VIP Protection Department to protect the authority of the president, parliament speaker and prime minister.

Meta Adutavičiūtė of the Vilnius-based Human Rights Monitoring Institute says such an abstract wording might create conditions for restricting criticism of politicians. In the explanatory note to the proposed bill, the Ministry of the Interior states «geopolitical changes and fast-developing technology» have determined the emergence of the new provisions. The amended law would allow warning state leaders when, for example, unwanted persons wanted to take pictures with them.

Lithuanian Railways calls tender for rebuilding Renge section

Lithuania’s state-run railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) have called a tender for rebuilding the Mažeikiai-Renge railway section dismantled a decade ago. The section was used by the Mažeikiai-based oil processing company Orlen Lietuva, owned by Poland’s Orlen, to transport its oil products to Latvia.

According to information on Lithuania’s central public procurement website, the tender winner will also have to rebuild or renovate five level-crossing, six bridges and complete other work in 400 days but the deadline might be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. In early August, Lietuvos Geležinkeliai board approved the investment project estimated to be worth 10 million euros.

PM admits Strasburg court unlikely to change ruling

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis admits that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is unlikely to change its ruling on the imprisonment of terror suspects at a secret CIA detention site in Lithuania more than a decade ago.

The Cabinet took the decision to turn to the Strasburg-based court’s Grand Chamber after discussing, at a closed meeting, various scenarios and their possible consequences.

Part of medics’ trade unions renew agreements with Ministry

Part of medics’ trade unions have renewed their agreements with the Ministry of Health over pay rises and longer vacations. Minister of Health Aurelijus Veryga and several trade unions on Friday, August 31, on signed a new collective agreement which was renewed after two and a half years of negotiations, as the existing agreements expires in January.

According to the ministry, medical workers will now receive two additional days for their annual leave, and those working over 10 years will get three additional days. The agreement also defines pay rates.

Prosecutors launch probe into alleged air pollution

Prosecutors in the Lithuanian western port of Klaipeda have launched a pre-trial investigation into alleged air pollution in the port’s surroundings.

The probe follows complaints over port company Klasco’s iron ore’s handling. Prosecutors say they launched the investigation after evaluating information on norm-exceeding air pollution in Klaipeda’s northern residential areas adjacent to the port. Klasco rejects criticism as unfounded, saying that hundreds of industry, transport and handling companies as well as the badly-regulated traffic are affecting environment.

Nausėda will soon announce if he will run for President

Economist Gitanas Nausėda announced he was leaving the position of advisor to SEB bank president and plans to announce his decision on whether he will run for Lithuanian president soon. «I can say that I plan to soon announce whether I will run for president,» Nausėda said on Thursday, August 30.

Nausėda is currently leading in public polls among potential presidential candidates. Some branches of the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats are nominating him for the party’s presidential primaries. Nausėda has to make up its mind over September on whether to take part in the party’s internal election.

Memory of Senator McCain honoured

The memory of US Senator John McCain was being honoured in Lithuania throughout the week. President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Thursday, August 30, signed the Book of Condolences opened at the United States Embassy. According to the president, Lithuania will remember Senator McCain as a sincere friend whose support for national security and defence was always felt, the presidential press service said in a statement.

The American flag at Washington Square in Vilnius will be lowered half-mast from Friday until Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius left for Washington on Thursday, August 30, to pay respects to Republican Senator John McCain who died last week.

SEB to become first bank to accept instant payments

SEB bank will become the first bank in Lithuania to accept instant payments in euros from banks in other EU or EEA countries. The new service for payments under 15,000 will be launched on September 4.

When making instant transfers, funds will reach the account in less then 10 seconds and payments will be made at any time, including weekends and holidays, according to Vaidas Žagunis, head of Retail banking and a board member.

PM sees no reason to worry about Chinese investments

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that he sees no threats as to China’s investments in Lithuania, adding that all potential investors are evaluated in a responsible way. Some Lithuanian officials worry that China may gain leverage over domestic politics through its investments in the country.

China’s transport, logistics, real estate and financial giant China Merchants Group said several years ago that it might start shipping cargo via Klaipeda. The company is developing an industrial park called «Great Stone» in Belarus and the shortest route for its exports would be via the Lithuanian port.

Vilnius names George W. Bush as honorary citizen

George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, on Wednesday was named an honorary citizen of Vilnius. The Lithuanian capital’s politicians took the decision unanimously.

Defence Ministry, media outlets sign agreement

The Lithuanian Defence Ministry, its National Cyber Security Centre and the country’s major online media outlets signed on Tuesday, August 28, an agreement on cooperation in cyber security. Almost all of Lithuania’s largest media organizations have been subjected to cyber-attacks in the past few years.

The document was signed by the Internet Media Association, which brings together Delfi.lt, 15min.lt, Lrytas.lt, Alfa.lt and Lrt.lt, as well by the business news website Vz.lt and the news agencies BNS and ELTA. Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis noted that cyber-attacks against the media are becoming more dangerous, more complex and more sophisticated and can cause great chaos in society and in the state.


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