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Monday 22.04.2019 | Name days: Armanda, Armands

Week in Lithuania: Moscow Ambassador in trouble, fake news on minister, judicial corruption on news

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Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia Remigijus Motuzas

Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia Remigijus Motuzas, who was questioned as a special witness in a bribe-related visa case on Wednesday, April 10, casts a shadow on the whole diplomatic service, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday, April 11. Ambassador will likely lose his job.

BNN offers a summary of past week’s topical news.

Russian citizen Rinat Nasirov and his son were issued Schengen visas by the Lithuanian Embassy in Moscow based on an invitation letter received from Rimantas Šidlauskas, a former diplomat and now director general of the Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts (ALCCIC), Motuzas explained on Tuesday, April 10. He admitted of having dealt with Šidlauskas on business matters long time ago. Lithuania’s law enforcement is carrying out a pre-trial investigation into suspected bribery. Nasirov presumably has given Šidlauskas 3,000 euro for a service in the past, but none of them call it a bribe. Šidlauskas is suspected to have agreed to influence people for Nasirov to get a Schengen visa, in exchange for the money.

BNN offers a summary of past week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Defence; Justice; Legislation; Business; Cyber war; Banking;

DEFENCE: Ministry regrets army’s engagement in election campaign

The Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says he regrets the fact that politicians dragged the army into the election campaign. The minister also expressed his support to Chief of Defence of Lithuania Jonas Vytautas Žukas whose meeting with one of the presidential candidate, Gitanas Nausėda, sparked controversy. Earlier this week, PM Saulius Skvernelis, who’s also running for president, Nausėda violated «the constitutional principle of a country governed by the rule of law by politicizing the army» when he mentioned Žukas as a potential adviser.

JUSTICE: Two more suspects in judicial corruption case

Suspicions have been brought against two more suspects in the high-profile judicial corruption case in Lithuania, the country’s Special Investigation Service said on Wednesday, April 10. One of them is a lawyer’s assistant suspected of influence peddling, bribery and misuse incitement, and the other one is the interested person suspected of influence peddling. All in all, almost 50 people, including eight judges and six lawyers, have been named as suspects in the judicial corruption case.

Presidential candidates may compensate Jews for private property

Lithuania’s three top presidential candidates do not rule out that the state may compensate Jews who lived in Lithuania before World War Two for their lost private property. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, the presidential candidate of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), said the restitution process in Lithuania is over from the point of view of law, but financial compensation for seized Jewish private property could be discussed.

Memorial plaque to Noreika smashed in Vilnius

A controversial memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika, a Lithuanian military officer known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), in central Vilnius was smashed into pieces with a sledge hammer on Monday, April 8.  Stanislovas Tomas, who expects to run for a European Parliament seat in next month’s elections, claimed responsibility. The plaque honoured Noreika as a prominent member of the anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania. Lithuania’s Jewish community has for some time demanded the removal of the plaque honouring Noreika who, as head of Šiauliai County during the Nazi occupation period, signed documents on the establishment of a Jewish ghetto and on arrangements regarding Jewish property.

LEGISLATION: Seimas adopts amendments on no-deal Brexit

The Seimas of Lithuanian on Thursday, April 11, adopted a package of amendments on Lithuania’s preparation for a no-deal Brexit. The amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens were unanimously backed by 88 lawmakers who also adopted amendments to the accompanying laws. The amendments regulate the legal status of British citizens and their family members after Brexit. The amendment will come into force on the day the UK will leave the EU.

Seimas passes children’s rights protection amendments

The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Thursday, April 11, amendments to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child. All 71 lawmakers present voted in favour of the amendments. Seventy-one is the minimum quorum for passing a bill. Some lawmakers argue that the amendment will justify a certain level of violence against children, while some family organizations maintain that this will help prevent an unjustified removal of children from their parents.

If citizenship referendum fails, «plan B» will be needed

If the attempt to amend the Constitution regarding dual citizenship during the May 12 referendum fails, Lithuania should prepare for a new one, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said during a sitting of the Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian World Community on Wednesday, April 10. Minister Linas Linkevičius underlined that a majority of people are in favour of expanding dual citizenship but that support is insufficient to cross the referendum threshold. The package will take effect in May if signed into law by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

BUSINESS: US pharmaceutical giant to enter Vilnius

US-based pharmaceutical wholesale giant McKesson is setting up a service centre in Vilnius. According to information from the Centre of Registers, McKesson Business Services Lithuania was registered on Wednesday, April 10, with an authorized share capital of 5 million euros and Ildiko By as its CEO. The new company is wholly owned by McKesson’s European unit, Germany-registered McKesson Europe Holdings.

CYBER WAR: Fake news on Defence minister

A false email about Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis allegedly having accepted a bribe of 586,00 US dollar have been sent to several dozen email boxes at the presidential office, the government and the parliament, the Ministry of National Defence said on Thursday, April 11.

BANKING: Revolut seeks security clearance

The British start-up Revolut on Wednesday, April 10, filed an official request to a Lithuanian government commission, asking it to evaluate the company for a third time in terms of its compliance with national security interests. The company decided to turn to the Commission for Coordination of Protection of Objects of Importance to Ensuring National Security in response to discussions in the Lithuanian parliament and also to dispel any doubts over its activity in Lithuania, Revolut said.

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