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Week in Lithuania: MP Gražulis in hot water, heat-related water supply disruptions in Kaunas

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Member of the Lithuanian Seimas Petras Gražulis

Last week, Lithuania marked the Day of Mourning and Hope, outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite delivered her last annual address, president-elect Gitanas Nausėda spoke out against taxing owners of old polluting car, but MP Petras Gražulis suspected of bribery.

MEMORY: Day of Mourning and Hope

Lithuania on Friday, June 14, marked the Day of Mourning and Hope, the anniversary of the beginning of mass deportations of Lithuanian citizens in the Soviet era. A flower laying ceremony took place at Antakalnis Cemetery at the monument for those who died for their homeland, and later the Seimas held a solemn sitting. After the Soviets occupied Lithuania in 1940-1953, around 130,000 people were deported from the country and another 156,000 were imprisoned.

JUSTICE: MP Grazulis may become suspect in criminal case

Suspicions have been brought against one person in the so-called Judex case, and MP Petras Gražulis would become a second one if Lithuania’s parliament lifts his legal immunity, a prosecutor said on Wednesday, June 12. Prosecutors are now carrying out a pre-trial investigation against Gražulis and suspect him of official abuse, fraudulent bookkeeping, influence peddling, document forgery and bribery. Prosecutors claim Gražulis abused his political status systematically and for a long time, seeking to avoid a ban for Judex, a Lithuanian producer of frozen products, to export to Russia. Based on the law enforcement information, Gražulis helped Judex to resolve its problems and called Lithuanian and Russian officials several times, encouraged them to pay bribes and asked to breach the existing procedures.

Former MP found guilty of sexual harassment

The Court of Appeal of Lithuania found former MP Kęstutis Pukas guilty of sexual harassment and a gun possession violation. The court found Pukas guilty of sexual harassment against one young woman but acquitted him of harassment against thee other women. He was issued a fine of 1,500 euros. Pukas was found guilty of harassing the first young woman as she was his assistant and was depended on him due to work relations. The other three young women only applied to work for the former MP. Pukas plans to appeal.

POLITICS: Outgoing president delivers last annual address

Lithuania‘s outgoing President Dalia Grybauskaitė delivered her last State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, June 11.

Ruling LFGU nominates journalist for Seimas by-election

The ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the non-parliamentary Centre Party has decided to nominate journalist and former TV host Rūta Janutienė in Žiemgala constituency for the upcoming by-election. The decision has been made by the LFGU board. The party’s leader Ramūnas Karbauskis said he himself suggested Janutienė as a candidate. Parliamentary by-elections will be held on September 8 in three single-member constituencies in Lithuania after several lawmakers were elected to the European Parliament.

President-elect against taxing polluting cars so far

President-elect Gitanas Nausėda said this week he does not back yet the idea to introduce taxes for polluting cars in the country as that would increase social exclusion. In his words, poorer people now have the most polluting cars. The future president said he would consider proposals to tax cars based on their power, and the amount of emitted CO2 could be taxed gradually.

EMERGENCY: Kaunas residents face water supply problems

As people are using more water due to heat, Lithuania’s major cities were facing this week water supply problems, with water pressure down in some areas in Vilnius and Kaunas, and some people in Kaunas don’t have water at all. Ramūnas Šulskus, managing director of Kauno Vandenys (Kaunas Waters), confirmed that around 1,000 people have water supply problems. Lithuania has plenty of fresh water and supply problems in some areas have been caused by low capacity at some water extraction points, the country’s Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika said on Wednesday, June 12.

Lithuanian Railways introduces train speed restrictions due to heat

Lithuania’s state-run railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithaunian Railways, LG) has introduced train speed restrictions due to the ongoing heatwave and advised passengers to take into account possible delays. Lithuania has set a new June heat record as the country continues sweltering from extremely high temperatures, meteorologists said on Thursday, June 13. Lithuania has set a new June heat record on Thursday – 35.7 degrees centigrade were recorded in Kaišiadorys, a town in central Lithuania, on Wednesday. It was hottest June day in Lithuania’s history.

ENERGY: Seimas adopts synchronisation law

The Seimas on Thursday, June 13, adopted a law to step up the synchronisation of Lithuania’s power system with that of continental Europe by 2025. The law on the integration of Lithuania’s energy system into the European power system was backed by 88 lawmakers and six abstained. The Seimas also adopted related amendments to the Law on Electricity and the Code of Civil Procedure.

SPORTS: Athlete loses Olympic silver medal over doping

Lithuanian sprint canoeist Jevgenij Šuklin has been stripped of his Olympic silver medal, the International Olympic Committee has officially said on Wednesday, June 12. The 2012 C-1 200 silver medallist was lost the award after failing a new doping test. Šuklin will also lose major state support, including his monthly subsidy, and possibly funds for preparing for the Olympics. The 33 year-old athlete, who retired two years ago, might have to repay about 100,000 euros, according to preliminary estimates.

CULTURE: Lithuania’s Venice Biennale pavilion gets additional funding

Lithuania’s Culture Support Fund, administered by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, has allocated 80,500 euros in additional funding to the country’s national pavilion at the Venice Biennale after it received the main Golden Lion award. The pavilion is the stage of the Sun & Sea (Marina) opera performance by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė. After it received the Golden Lion, the number of visitors rose considerably, thus, the need for additional funding arose, the Ministry of Culture said on Tuesday, June 11.


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