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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian parliament to launch probe of political corruption during previous governments

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The Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) is set to launch a new parliamentary investigation into political corruption during the tenure of previous governments. Sixty-seven MPs on Tuesday, September 25, voted in favor of setting up a new parliamentary investigation commission, 28 were against and three abstained.

The resolution was passed by votes from the ruling bloc’s lawmakers and those from the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (EAPL-CFA). Seven out of 12 members of the commission are lawmakers of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU). The Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP) will have two representatives, and the Order and Justice, the Liberal Movement and the EAPL-CFA will have one each. Under the draft resolution, the parliamentary commission should investigate possible unlawful influence on political processes, appointments to high-ranking positions and the legislative process between 2008 and 2016.

Liberal, Order and Justice MPs proposed for vice-speakers

Jonas Liesis of the Liberal Movement and Remigijus Zemaitaitis of the Order and Justice Party are being proposed for vice-speakers of the Lithuanian parliament. Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, nominated the two lawmakers for the posts after the parliament amended on Thursday, September 27, its statute to increase the maximum number of deputy speakers from five to seven.

Irena Degutienė of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) is currently the only opposition lawmaker among the five vice-speakers. The proposal to increase the number of deputy speakers came after the Justice and Order earlier this month signed a cooperation agreement with the ruling bloc.

Lithuanian president in the UN: the world cannot reject globalisation

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on a visit to the United Nations said on Thursday, September 27, globalisation has a «dark side» as it has promoted exclusion and inequality. But the president also called against rejecting the ideas of transnationality.

The Lithuanian president also called for the strengthening of international institutions as they are now incapable of responding to unlawful use of force and chemical weapons, poverty and economic challenges.

Parliament announces dates for next year’s elections

Lithuania will elect municipal councils on March 3, 2019, its next president on May 12 and members of the European Parliament on May 26, the Seimas announced on Tuesday, September 25.

The draft resolution on municipal elections will come into effect on November 7, marking the official start of the election campaigning period. Campaigning for the presidential and European Parliament elections will begin on November 12 and November 26, respectively.

Seimas makes first step in bringing hope to life prisoners

The Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) on Tuesday, September 25, made the first step towards bringing the hope of release to those sentenced to life imprisonment. Lawmakers gave their initial backing to amendments stipulating that a person might have their sentence reviewed after 20 years served.

A court would review the person’s behavior in prison and would be able to but would not be obliged to replace life imprisonment with a specific term ranging from five to ten years. Currently, there are 122 life prisoners in Lithuania.

Seimas call on Russia

The Seimas of Lithuania has adopted a special resolution calling on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe not to restore the rights of the Russian delegation in this organization.

77 Lithuanian lawmakers on Thursday voted in favor of such a resolution, with no votes against and one abstention. Introducing the document, MP Egidijus Vareikis, representing the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, said PACE restricted the rights of the Russian delegation following the 2014 annexation of Crimea, and Russian delegates were stripped of the rights to be appointed committee chairs, rapporteurs, vote during plenary sittings, elect judges to the European Court of Human Rights and some other European officials.

Parliament allows government to change decisions on waste-to-energy plants

The Lithuanian government has allowed the government to change decisions on waste-to-energy combined heat and power (CHP) plants under construction in Vilnius and Kaunas. The parliament on Thursday, September 27, passed amendments to the Law on Waste Management, which had been earlier blocked by the opposition and some lawmakers from the ruling bloc.

If the amendments came into force, they would pose a threat to waste-to-energy plants that are being built in Vilnius and Kaunas by the state energy group Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) and Fortum Heat Lietuva, which is part of Finland’s energy group Fortum.

Seimas opposition blocks bid to link subsidy with defense funding

The Seimas opposition blocked on Thursday, September 27, the ruling bloc’s unexpected proposal to give the greenlight for the government to borrow money not only for increasing the defense budget, but also for providing funding to the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP). The vote had to be postponed after opposition lawmakers did not register for it.

Agne Širinskienė of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) supplemented a bill originally aimed at allowing the government to borrow funds to increase defense funding and thus meet NATO’s 2 percent of GDP spending target. The MP proposed that the same bill envisage the same mechanism for financing the activities of a political party formed after general elections. Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka told the parliament that the government backed the proposal.

The ruling party’s contentious proposals

Monika Garbaciauskaitė-Budrienė, the director general of the Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT) says that certain proposals by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU) to change the public broadcaster’s management structure may undermine its independence.

According to her, it remains unclear how the LRT Board, a new institution proposed by the LFGU, would be formed. She also does not back the proposal to partially change the procedure for appointing members of the LRT Council to link it with the terms of office of the appointing authority.

Two Indian companies plan big investments

Two Indian companies are planning to invest nearly 200 million euros in metal can and textile factories in Rokiskis and create more than 1,500 new jobs in the northeastern Lithuanian town.

According to Alina Adomaitytė, president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Bombay-listed SVP Global Ventures plans to invest 97 million euros in a textile factory that will employ 1,500 people and Elegant Industries intends to create around 200 new jobs in its planned 95-million-euro can production facility. Both factories are planned to be built by 2020.

Some 18 Syrian refugees relocated to Lithuania

Three refuge families – 18 people in total – have been relocated to Lithuania after a break of ten months, the country’s Migration Department said. Evelina Gudzinskaitė, the department’s director, said that the refugees had come from camps in Turkey. The last time Lithuania took in refugees was on December 21, 2017.

Conservatives nominates ex-minister for Vilnius mayor

Lithuania’s conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats has nominated former Economy Minister Dainius Kreivys for Vilnius mayor. Kreivys was elected to Vilnius Council in November, 2008 but renounced the position shortly after he was appointed economy minister in the Andrius Kubilius government. Kreivys resigned from the ministerial post in March, 2011. Meanwhile, HU-LCD MP Agne Bilotaitė has announced her decision to run for mayor of Lithuania’s western port of Klaipeda.

Ministry calls on EC to cover losses

Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys has called on the European Commission to cover losses incurred by the country’s farmers from drought and swine fever. According to the minister, Lithuanian farmers are estimated to have incurred 0.5 billion euros in losses due to drought over the last summer.


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