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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian parliament rejects idea of early election

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Lithuania’s parliament rejected the opposition initiative of early parliamentary elections in the first phase of discussion on Tuesday, March 20.

The bid to hold early elections on June 3 was approved for discussion by 52 parliamentarians, while 57 were against and 11 abstained.

The idea of early elections was proposed by the opposition after the parliament last week came a few votes short of stripping MP Mindaugas Bastys of his mandate. The Constitutional Court had ruled he had breached his oath and the Organic Law by concealing his ties with a former KGB agent. Prepared by elders of all opposition groups, the draft resolution on early elections was signed by 49 parliamentarians in support of the bid, including three members of the ruling LFGU.

Former MP going before US court

Former MP Neringa Venckienė who has been detained in the United States went before a US court on Thursday, March 22. The justices postponed the decision on extraditing Venckienė to Lithuania. She was reportedly detained in the United States on February 22.

If handed over to Lithuania, Venckienė may stand charges of refusing to obey a court order to hand over her small niece to her mother, as well as molesting the child, illicitly collecting information, abusing her rights as the girl’s guardian and other crimes. Lithuania’s parliament revoked her MP mandate in June of 2014 over failure to attend parliamentary meetings.

Part of Lithuanian Jews express no-confidence in chairperson

Some of the members of the Jewish Community in Lithuania on Friday, March 23, expressed no-confidence in Faina Kukliansky, the leader of the community whom they accused of authoritarian rule and undue use of money earmarked by the state. Kukliansky’s supporters deny the accusations, saying that the critics are nonconstructive, avoid dialogue and thus damage the image of Jews in Lithuania.

The no-confidence was publicly stated by leaders of the Jewish communities of Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Ukmergė, saying that the communities unite absolute majority of Lithuania’s Jews.

They demand Kukliansky’s resignation and a new election. According to the statement, persons loyal to the community’s leadership are motivated with the money from the Good Will Foundation, while the Vilnius Jewish Community is barred from governing of the Lithuanian community.

Lithuania considers expulsion of Russian spies disguised as diplomats

President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday, March 22, that the country was considering expelling Russian intelligence officers working under the disguise as diplomats. Grybauskaitė’s statement came in response to a question about the country’s possible response to the poisoning of a former British double spy, an incident the United Kingdom accuses Russia for.

In her words, Lithuania can also add new points to the so-called national Magnitsky list, which currently includes 49 Russian citizens who are banned from coming to Lithuania for corruption, money laundering and human rights violations. Grybauskaitė said that the expulsion decision would be made shortly.

Fourteen freezing migrants found

Lithuanian border guards detained on Wednesday, March 21, a trailer with 14 freezing illegal migrants hidden in the semi-trailer as it tried to cross from Belarus to the country.

The migrants told the border guards that they were Sri Lankan citizens and that they had travelled locked up for several days, the State Border Guard Service (VSAT) said on Thursday, March 22. The migrants needed medical help and one of them is being treated in a hospital.

Lithuania may lose EU support for national stadium project

The stalling National Stadium project in Vilnius has increased the risk for Lithuania to lose the funding of the European Union, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says.

According to the Government’s communique, Lithuania may run out of time to spend the money earmarked by the EU due to the stalling implementation of the project. The Cabinet said all contracts of projects financed from EU funds should be signed by the end of 2020

Finance Ministry improves economic growth outlook

Finance Ministry has improved the economic growth outlook for the country for 2018 and 2019. The ministry said the Lithuanian gross domestic product (GDP) should widen by 3.2 per cent this year and by further 2.8 per cent in 2019.

In 2020, the country’s economy should expand by 2.5 per cent. Last September, the Finance Ministry projected the GDP to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2018 and by 2.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė elected to head LRT

The council of the Lithuanian national radio and television LRT on Tuesday, March 20, elected Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė, former editor-in-chief of Delfi.lt news portal, as CEO of the national broadcaster, the council’s chairman Žygintas Pečiulis confirmed. She was elected in the second round of the election, Pečiulis told the LRT radio.

Need for higher gas transfer capacity is analysed

Ernst & Young Baltic (EY) business consultancy and audit company will evaluate the need to raise the gas transfer capacity between Lithuania and Latvia. Amber Grid, the Lithuanian gas transmission operator, said a 250,000-euro contract (not including VAT) had been signed together with the Latvian operator, Conexus Baltic Grid. The feasibility study will analyse the effects of the increased capacity of the Latvian-Lithuanian gas link upon the needs of regional gas market and safe supplies after creation of other regional infrastructure, namely, gas pipeline links between Finland and Estonia (Balticconnector) and between Poland and Lithuania (GIPL).

Lithuania’s richest man invests in Romanian hotels

Lithuania’s richest man Nerijus Numavičius, together with his brother Vladas and Mindaugas Bagdonavičius, a former shareholder of the Vilniaus Prekyba (VP) Group, are investing in a hotel business in Romania. The team will also include Arūnas Beleška, a former owner of the Europa hotel chain who now controls the hotel management company Appex Alliance. Augustinas Barauskas, CEO of Appex Alliance, told BNS that the company was planning to build four hotels in Romania.

Prosecutors to probe alleged TV libel against MP

Lithuanian prosecutors on Monday, March 19, launched a pre-trial investigation regarding an alleged libel against MP Mykolas Majauskas, who was publicly accused in a TV program of sexual misconduct. In an interview aired by the Info TV station earlier this month, a young woman, whose name was not disclosed, accused Majauskas of unwelcome sexual behaviour toward her in his apartment more than five years ago. The lawmaker has dismissed the allegation as untrue.


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