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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Railways to run pilot train between Klaipeda and Sovetsk

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Lietuvos Geležinkeliai will in early January run a pilot passenger train between the Lithuanian seaport of Klaipeda and Sovetsk, a border town in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The state railway company said on Friday, December 29, that it would operate the pilot service on January 5 and 7.

Linas Baužys, director of the company’s Passenger Transportation Directorate, said in a press release that whether a regular service between Klaipeda and Sovetsk would be launched in the future would depend on the results of the pilot project.

In Sovetsk, passengers will be able to change to a Russian Railways train going to Kaliningrad. Its timetable will be aligned with that of the Lietuvos Geležinkeliai train. The Russian operator says that the pilot project is part of preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The Lithuanian railway company also plans to launch a passenger service to Daugavpils, in south-eastern Latvia, next year.

Ambassador to Sweden gets longer term regardless of pension age

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has signed a decree allowing Ambassador to Sweden Algimantas Rimkūnas who will soon reach retirement age to continue in the position for another two years. According to the law on diplomatic service, diplomats have to be under the age of 65, however, enables the president to allow persons over the age limit to continue as diplomatic envoys, if the total extended duration is under five years. The term for Rimkūnas was extended until Jan. 3 of 2019. The diplomat is turning 65 next week.

Court acquits Central bank’s official who monitored bankrupt Snoras

Kazimieras Ramonas, a former supervisor of commercial banks and the Snoras bank that is currently bankrupt, has been acquitted on all charges. Vilnius judge Vitalija Norkunaitė annulled the guilty verdict handed down in March of 2014, which found Ramonas guilty of abuse of office and negligence of his duties. The judge said Ramonas was found not guilty, as he had not committed anything that can be qualified as a crime or a criminal offense. The court ruled that Ramonas performed his duties well, furthermore, there was no evidence that he concealed information later established by inspectors from members of the board of the central Bank of Lithuania.

 Court upholds 9-yr jail term for judge’s daughter

Lithuania’s Supreme Court on Thursday, December 28, upheld the verdict for Jurga Mataitytė who has been sentenced to nine years in prison for murdering her infant.  Appeals against the verdict were filed by the defendant and her lawyer, and both of them were rejected, Dovilė Bružaitė, spokeswoman for the court said. The Supreme Court endorsed the conclusion drawn by earlier courts that Mataitytė had plotted the murder of her infant long before birth and proceeded with her plan. The woman is the daughter of Gražina Mataitienė who works as a judge in Siauliai, northern Lithuania.

Statue of Lithuania’s national symbol Vytis to be erected in Kaunas by July 6

The mayor of Kaunas and the Vytis Support Foundation signed on Thursday, December 28, an agreement for a statue of the Lithuanian national symbol Vytis, originally proposed for Vilnius’ central Lukiškių Square, to be erected in Lithuania’s second-biggest city by July 6, 2018. Lithuania on July 6 celebrates its Day of Statehood to commemorate King Mindaugas’ coronation in 1253. Sculptor Arunas Sakalauskas, the author of the Vytis statue said that they expected the sculpture featuring a knight on horseback to be made in Ukraine by June.

Naftos Grupė execs get jail sentences

A court has sentenced former top executives of Naftos Grupė (Oil Group), an oil product forwarding company that was granted exceptional terms for the transshipment of oil products via Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil) in 2005 to 2010, to several years in prison and ordered them to pay the state-owned oil terminal almost 21 million euros in damages. The Klaipeda regional court’s ruling, which comes after seven years of investigation and trial, is likely to be appealed to a higher court. Another three people, including Klaipėdos Nafta’s former CEO Jurgis Aušra, have been sentenced to suspended prison sentences.

Law-enforcement end probe of activities of N-plant’s executives

Lithuania’s law-enforcement have completed the pre-trial investigation into the 1.5-million-euro auction organized by the Ignalina nuclear power plant (NPP) in 2014. Abuse suspicions were brought against six individuals, including Ignalina’s current CEO Darius Janulevičius, former CEO Osvaldas Čiukšys and former head of the commercial division, Lauras Puslys. Čiukšys and Puslys are also suspected of unlawful possession of radioactive substances. The Special Investigation Service said the case would go to court after the suspects study the investigation materials.

Lithuanians, Poles EU’s most favourable nations towards US

Residents of Lithuania are one of the European nations with the most favourable stance on the United States, shows the latest Eurobarometer survey. According to the survey, the positive attitude towards to the US was stated by 76 per cent of Lithuanian respondents, which is a decline by 7 percentage points from the fall of 2016. More positive opinions were only reported in Poland (79 per cent).

Seimas speaker, heritage protection chief mull preparations for papal visit

Lithuania’s Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis met this week with Diana Varnaitė, director of the Cultural Heritage Department, on Wednesday, December 27, to discuss preparations for the pope’s visit.

In her words, other topics on the agenda will include the condition of other heritage structures and the possibilities of taking care of the Seimas fountain. Pope Francis is scheduled to come to Lithuania next September. He will be the second Holy Father to visit the Baltic state. Pope John Paul II visited Lithuania in 1993.

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