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Week in Lithuania. Ministry initiates swift eviction of Lukiškės Prison

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Lukiškės Prison

The Ministry of Justice seeks swift eviction of Lukiškės Remand Prison from central Vilnius.

A special working group, chaired by Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius, held its first meeting last week and will draw up a specific eviction plan, the ministry said. Vice Minister of Justice Ernestas Jurkonis says the wish to rebuild trust in the prison system and cut costs is behind the rush to vacate the correctional facility. 697 Lukiškė-based inmates would be sent to other facilities in Alytus, Kaunas, Siauliai and Kybartai.

Vilnius launches controversial advertising campaign

Vilnius on Thursday, August 9, launched its advertising campaign abroad, introducing the Lithuanian capital as «the G-Spot of Europe». Starting in London and Berlin, the main idea of the online ad is to introduce Vilnius as an undiscovered treasure of Europe, which is so exciting to discover, the municipal business development and tourism agency, Go Vilnius, says.

The ad’s English text reads: «Nobody knows where it is, but when you find it – it’s amazing». The ad features a young girl clutching a «map» sheet in the spot where Vilnius should be. Banners ad and video will direct users to a special website where visitors will be invited to learn about Vilnius by playing a game. People will be asked to answer several questions and then will be provided with a personalized map of places in Vilnius that are worth visiting. The Lithuanian government earlier asked Vilnius authorities to postpone the launch of the advertising campaign to after the end of Pope Francis’ visit. The Catholic Church of Lithuania has also slammed the advertising campaign, saying that it will reinforce the image of Vilnius as a sex-tourism city.

Russian billionaire visits Vilnius

Russian billionaire and owner of London Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich visited Vilnius this week, Lithuanian media reported Thursday, August 9. The businessman stayed at the Hotel PACAI which was under heavy protection. Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, told the website she had a brief meeting with Abramovich, refusing to disclose what they talked about and just saying that he was interested in Tauragė from where his grandparents had lived. He also visited the Vilnius synagogue. According to Forbes, Abramovich is the 140th richest person in the world, worth 10.8 billion US dollars.

Port of Klaipeda sues former CEO

Port of Klaipeda announced Thursday, August 9, it had filed a 1,9 mn euro lawsuit against its Eugenijus Gentvilas, former CEO of Port of Klaipeda, who is now a parliamentarian and chairman of the Liberal Movement party. According to the port authorities, the port suffered damage under his leadership, failing to pay to the builders in time. Gentvilas said he doubts that the port will succeed in its bid to get him compensate alleged damage the port incurred during his management. The lawmaker is convinced that his case is «hopeless» and believes it’s a sign of the upcoming elections.

«I’m ready to go to court, to litigate and win and get compensation not only for the work of my lawyers in court but also for their work preparing a response to the 2016 claim. The port authority and is lawyers, in my opinion, will suffer losses which they will cause for the state by litigating in this hopeless case,» Gentvilas said.

Gentvilas believes the port’s latest and prior claims might be related to the upcoming municipal, EP and presidential elections.

Amber Grid extends deadline for GIPL contractor tender

Lithuania’s natural gas transmission system operator Amber Grid has extended the deadline of an international tender for the construction of Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) in the Lithuanian territory for two weeks until Aug. 22, and the winner would be announced early next year. Amber Grid says the construction of the interconnection in the Lithuanian territory should start in the second quarter of 2019 following the completion of international procurement procedures.

Money for farmers renouncing pig farming

The Ministry of Agriculture plans to allocate 3 million euros for measures aimed at encouraging farmers to renounce pig farming. Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys says every pig farmer raising up to 100 pigs within a swine fever zone will be paid 100 euros for every renounced pig, and farmers will also get addition 1,500 euros for the purchase of other animals. The financial incentive could apply to around 6,000 farmers raising 18,000 pigs in 14 Lithuanian districts with detected swine fever cases.

Government proposes banning third-country election consultations

Lithuania’s government on Wednesday, August 8, proposed to the parliament to adopt amendments that would ban election consultations from third-country representatives and also increase amounts individual candidates and parties van spend on elections. Such amendments have been drawn up by the Ministry of Justice. They state that election participants would only be allowed to sign agreements on the organization of political campaigns, consultations and training with legal and natural persons from EU, EEA and NATO countries.

Vilniaus Prekyba held Akropolis talks

Lithuania’s Vilniaus Prekyba, operating the Akropolis shopping malls in Vilnius, Klaipeda and Siauliai, reportedly held talks on the sale of the shopping malls in Klaipeda and Siauliai with South African real estate company NEPI Rockcastle which bought the Vilnius-based Ozas mall in June. But the deal is unlikely to go through, sources say.

Legal measures against Yandex.Taxi are considered

Specific and motivated legal solutions against ride-sharing company Yandex.Taxi are being considered, but that’s not a strategic company which can be subject to certain restrictions, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says. He warned people, however, to use the app of the Russian capital company registered in the Netherlands responsibly. Lithuania’s State Security Department recommends people who might be of interest to Russian special services against using the app. Yandex.Taxi launched operations in Vilnius on Jul. 26.

Probe into President’s widow’s family U.S. assets

Ernestas Butrimas, the son of Kristina Brazauskienė, the widow of Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas, is suspected of false accounting and the provision of false income, profit and asset information related to real estate operation in the United States. Lithuania’s Financial Crime Investigation Service (9FCIS)and the country’s Prosecutor General’ Office have announced the completion of a pre-trial investigation into the acquisition and subsequent sale of real estate in the United States in the name of the hotel. Butrimas is suspected of having failed to pay almost 40,000 euros in profit tax into the Lithuanian state budget.

Lithuania will not follow France

The Ministry of Education and Science says it has no plans to introduce a national ban on mobile phones at schools, leaving the right for schools to decide themselves on this issue. Meanwhile, psychologists say a discussion on such a ban is necessary. France has recently introduced restrictions on the use of smartphones, tablets and other devices for schoolchildren under 14-15.


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