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Monday 24.09.2018 | Name days: Agris, Agrita
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Railways joins European train system Interrail

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Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has joined Interrail, a European train system that allows passengers to buy cheaper tickets for train travel across Europe.

Linas Baužys, director of the Passenger Transportation Directorate at Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, says that the state railway company aims to improve rail connections with Western Europe. According to him, joining the Interrail system marks a new stage in Lietuvos Geležinkeliai’s operations and, specifically, its efforts to improve rail connections with Western countries, to offer new holiday destinations and to expand the geography of train travel. Lithuania was the first Baltic country to join Interrail.

Over thousand people took part in deportee name readings

Over a thousand people in Lithuania took part in the readings in ten cities of the names of more than 100,000 people who were deported by the Soviets or imprisoned for political reasons as Lithuania marked the Day of Mourning and Hope on Thursday, June 14.

The readings were organised by project Mission Siberia and took place in ten Lithuanian cities and took almost 24 hours – from Thursday’s midday until Friday morning – in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda. The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania on June 15, 1940. Soviet repressive structures at 3 a.m. on June 14, 1941 started mass deportations of the Lithuanian population to remote northern areas of the Soviet Union.

Lithuania abstains in UN Israel vote

Lithuania abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly on a resolution condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza. The resolution was passed with 120 votes in favour, 8 votes against and 45 abstentions. Twelve 12 EU countries backed the resolution, but 16 abstained. Latvia abstained too, Estonia meanwhile voted to condemn Israel for the fatalities.

Seimas committee disapproves of social security tax ceiling

The Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Budget and Finance (CBF), the lead committee in discussions on the government’s proposed tax system changes, on Wednesday, June 13, did not support plans to introduce next year a ceiling on employees’ contributions to the state social insurance fund Sodra. The final decision will be up to the full Seimas.

The government proposes to introduce a ceiling of 120 average salaries per year on contributions to Sodra in 2019, the first year of the reform. That celling would be lowered to 84 average salaries in 2020 and to 60 salaries in 2021. Income above the ceiling would be subject to a 25 percent personal income tax rate.

PM says EU commission’s Ignalina funding proposal insufficient

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that the European Commission’s proposal to provide 552 million euros for the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) decommissioning in 2021-2027 is insufficient and Lithuania will continue to negotiate for more funding.

The amount proposed for the Ignalina decommissioning in the new financial framework period is 230 million euros lower than that sought by Lithuania. The Energy Ministry has said that Lithuania will need around 780 million euros in EU funding for the Ignalina closure in the new budget. The EU has already allocated around 1.3 billion euros for the project since 2007.

Avia Solutions Group buys Ukrainian company

Avia Solutions Group, a Lithuanian capital group indirectly owned by businessman Gediminas Žiemelis, has acquired a Ukraine transport lease company. BAA Simulators, part of the group, purchased 100 percent of Dniprotranslogistyka shares, the company announced via Warsaw stock exchange. The closing price will be determined within a week, however it is anticipated it will not exceed 4 million U.S. dollars. The Ukrainian company’s business will be further developed by Baltic Ground Services, a direct subsidiary of Avia Solutions Group, the statement said.

BOD Group, Finns to invest into solar module production

Soli Tek, a solar elements and modules producer, part of the BOD Group, has agreed on a deal with Finnish energy solution company Valoe to invest 15 million euros into the production of new generation double-sided solar modules. Under the plan, solar elements and modules of up to 180MW in power will be produced in Vilnius over a year. The production should start early next year. Soli Tek’s existing annual element and module production capacity stands at up to 80MW.

Judges decide against recusing in high-profile MG Baltic case

Vilnius Regional Court judges has decided not to recuse from hearing the MG Baltic political corruption case. A call for prosecutor Justas Laucius to recuse has also been rejected. Following this decision, the hearing continues.

The lawyers for the defendants in the political corruption case say President Dalia Grybauskaitė might affect the position of the judges with her various public statements. Formal charges in the case were brought against three legal entities – the Liberal Movement, the Labour Party and MG Baltic – and a number of natural persons, including Kurlianskis, three former members of the Liberal Movement: Eligijus Masiulis, MP Gintaras Steponavičius and Šarūnas Gustainis, also against and Vytautas Gapšys, a former Labour Party lawmaker.

Dutch king honours memory of fellow compatriot

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė met on Friday, June 15, in Kaunas, Lithuanian second-largest city, to unveil a symbolic light monument to Dutch diplomat Jan Zwartendijk who saved Jews during WWII. Zwartendijk was a Dutch honorary consul and representative of Philips in Kaunas in 1940. He issued 2,400 Curacao visas to Lithuanian and Polish Jews, thus saving their lives. Zwartendijk was put on the list of Righteous Among the Nations and received a Lithuanian Life Saving Cross posthumously.

Dispute over KGB collaborators

A dispute erupted on Thursday, June 14, in the Lithuanian parliament over a proposal to publish information on people who admitted to have collaborated with the KGB, with the parliamentary opposition warning of the Kremlin’s interest. Zbignev Jedinskij, representing the opposition Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, and other members of his political group in the Seimas drafted a bill and collected the necessary 50 signatures for it to be included into the parliamentary agenda.

Jedinskij and others propose declassifying information about people who voluntarily admitted to have collaborated with the Soviet KGB as of Jan. 1, 2019. Currently this information is classified for 75 years. The opposition Conservatives are against the proposal.

Seimas lowers age limit for local election candidates

The Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania has lowered the age limit for running for councillor or mayor to 18 years. The lawmakers adopted amendments to the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils with 58 votes in favour, four against and 48 abstentions. They now need to be signed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė to come into force. Currently, candidates to the positions of councillors or mayors must be at least 20 years-old.

PM: There was no need to meet with Dalai Lama

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that there was no need to meet with the Dalai Lama who was visiting Lithuania this week. Skvernelis said that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s representatives had not expressed such a wish either. The Dalai Lama met on Thursday, June 14, with Tibetan supporters in Lithuania, including some politicians, business people and public figures. The country’s top officials were not present in the meeting.


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