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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian doctors to offer voluntary test on alcohol habits

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Lithuania’s Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga has drafted a new scheme for residents attending health care institutions to fill out tests that would reveal whether the person’s drinking habits signal a possible addiction.

Published a few days ago, the decree suggests that anyone between ages of 18 and 65 visiting a health clinic starting next July would have to be offered a test about alcohol risks. If the patient agrees, a test will be filled out to demonstrate the level of alcohol consumption: low-risk, risky, harmful and suspected alcohol addiction.

If a person is diagnosed with risky, harmful or suspected addiction, he would have to repeat the test every year, while those found in the risky category would have to be tested every two years.

Centre Party outstrips Liberals in popularity

The Lithuanian Centre Party headed by MP Naglis Puteikis has for the first time passed the Liberal Movement on the popularity poll, ranking among the country’s four most popular parties, shows a survey conducted by RAIT pollster.

In the November survey, the opposition conservatives were first with support of 19 percent of those polled, ahead of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union with 16 per cent, leaving the difference unchanged from October.

The Social Democrats were listed as the first choice by 10 percent of respondents. The Lithuanian Centre Party was backed by 6 percent of those polled, while the Liberal Movement of Eugenijus Gentvilas secured support of 5 percent of respondents. The Order and Justice party was below the 5-percent threshold to win parliamentary mandates in multi-mandate voting, at 4 percent.

LithuanianTV channels may be told to dub Russian content

Lithuania’s radio and television channels may be ordered to provide Lithuanian-language subtitles for all programs and movies originally created in a language that is not the official language of the European Union (EU).A relevant amendment to the Law on Provision of Information to the Public was approved for discussion on Thursday, December 14, supported by 43 parliamentarians, four against and 17 abstentions. The bill will now go to parliamentary committees.

Ignalina N-plant CEO suspected of abuse in asset auction probe

Lithuanian law-enforcement officials have brought formal suspicions against Darius Janulevičius, current CEO of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), and another five persons, including Osvaldas Čiukšys, its former CEO, over a suspected non-transparent auction of the plant’s assets worth over 1.5 million euros. Allegedly, the current and former top executives of the Ignalina facility are suspected over the 2014 sales of pipes to Germany’s Sypra.

Health minister survives interpellation in parliament

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga survived on Thursday, December 14, an interpellation procedure launched against him in the parliament by the opposition.

The Seimas passed, in a vote of 68 to 33 with four abstentions, a resolution to accept his interpellation answers. The minister received the backing of lawmakers from the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour political group, the opposition Order and Justice, and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania-Christian Families Alliance.

The opposition Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Liberal Movement and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party’s political group voted against or abstained.

Lithuania to tighten access into state border guard zone

Lithuania will tighten access into its state border guard zone starting next year, narrowing the range of persons allowed into the zone and introducing a fee for entering its frontier waters.

The new measures are aimed at boosting the protection of the external borders with Russia and Belarus, the State Border Guard Service said on Thursday, December 14. This zone usually stretches between 50 meters and several kilometres from the border into Lithuania’s territory. A special permit from border guards is needed to enter the zone, which is marked with special signs.

Lithuania fails to get permit for new consulate building

The Lithuanian government has reallocated funds earmarked for the construction of a new consulate building in Grodno as the country has so far failed to obtain the necessary permit from Belarus’ authorities. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry says that it has not abandoned the project in Grodno.

The ministry that the failure to obtain the construction permit is the reason why the project is stalling. Under the government’s resolution, 478,000 euros previously allocated for the designing and construction of the Grodno consulate building will be used for renovating the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow.

Lithuania postpones plans of travel guarantee fund

Lithuania is putting off the plans of setting up a special travel guarantee fund. According to the report by vzinios.lt, the move makes it unclear how Lithuania will ensure full recovery of paid sums by clients in case of bankruptcy of travel organizers, as required by the European Union (EU). The new draft envisages the current scheme of compensations from the insurance of the travel organizer.

The EU directive, which requires the compensation measure, should be transposed to the Lithuanian law by next January; however, the Economy Ministry tends to postpone the settlement of the compensation mechanism issue until 2019.

Authorities burn half a ton of cocaine

More than half a ton of cocaine, smuggled from South America, with an estimated street value of nearly 49 million euros were destroyed in a furnace on Tuesday, December 13, the Lithuanian Customs said.

The drugs were hidden aboard a ship that arrived in the port of Klaipeda from South America last May, according to the press release. The cocaine was disguised as a shipment of metal casting molds for a company founded in Lithuania, whose director, a Russian national holding a Lithuanian residence permit, currently lives in Russia.

Both the cargo and its route – from Ecuador via Colombia and the German port of Hamburg to Klaipeda – prompted customs officials’ suspicions.

Farmers’ losses too low for EU aid

Lithuania will recalculate damages caused to the state by heavy rains last summer as farmers’ losses due to the natural disaster are too low to qualify for EU aid, Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas said on Tuesday, December 12.

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