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Wednesday 18.09.2019 | Name days: Liesma, Elita, Alita

Week in Lithuania: MP Rozova in trouble, Swedes express concern over forests law, court frees Russian suspect

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Last week in Lithuania, a parliamentary investigation was opened over possible Russia ties of a lawmaker, while Swedish diplomats sounded alarm over a restrictive forest law. Lithuanian singing revolution figure Landsbergis appealed to Amazon to remove Soviet-themed goods.

MP Rozova in hot water over Russian ties

Valdemar Tomaševski, leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, says he had no knowledge of MP Irina Rozova’s communication with Russian diplomats regarding funding for the Russian Alliance she represents. Earlier this week, the Lithuanian Seimas’ Committee on National Security and Defence decided to launch a parliamentary investigation into the matter after getting acquainted with the State Security Department’s (SSD) information about the MP. Meanwhile, leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, Ramūnas Karbauskis, has called MPs to impeach Seimas speaker Viktoras Pranckietis who allowed Rozova to access certain classified information.

Swedish Embassy voices investors’ forest concern

The Swedish Embassy in Vilnius said it handed over investors’ concern over amendments placing restrictions on forest land acquisitions to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda’s team but did not ask the president to veto the bill. According to the embassy, several small and medium investors turned to the embassy after the Seimas of Lithuania adopted the amendments on restricting forest land acquisitions, and they expressed concern over ownership restrictions and the bill’s impact on Swedish business in Lithuania.

President: Europe can no longer blindly rely on US for its security

Europe can no longer blindly rely on the United States for its security and must take on more responsibility, President Gitanas Nausėda said Thursday, August 22, addressing an international conference hosted by ex-Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus.

Vilnius court frees Russian oil contamination suspect

Vilnius Regional Court on Thursday, August 22, released Roman Ruzhechko, a suspect in a Russian oil pipeline contamination probe, from detention. Ruzhechko was arrested in the middle of July. Russian law-enforcement officials are seeking the extradition of Ruzhechko whom they suspect of involvement in the contamination of Transneft’s Druzhba oil pipeline. The oil pipeline was temporarily shut down on April 19 after it was found to contain oil with a high content of dichloroethane, a toxic substance with strong corrosive properties

Lithuania’s EMSI fails to halt Via Baltica reconstruction project

The Lithuanian-capital filling station chain EMSI has failed in its bid to temporarily halt the reconstruction of the Via Baltica’s section from Marijampole in southern Lithuania to the Polish border. On August 21, the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court issued a final and binding ruling, rejecting EMSI’s complaint over the Via Baltica reconstruction. The dispute between the Transport Ministry and filling stations operating near the Via Baltica section broke out after it was announced that, under the project, drivers would access filling stations only by leaving the highway and taking connecting roads and viaducts. The Road Administration says the Via Baltica section will be turned into a highway with the maximum speed of 130 km per hour, therefore, direct access to filling stations is impossible.

Opposition collects signatures to turn to top court over cabinet reshuffle

The Opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats announced on Thursday, August 22, they have collected the necessary signatures to turn to the Constitutional Court over the procedure for giving powers to the government. On Tuesday, August 20, the Seimas gave a renewed mandate to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ reshuffled Cabinet without holding a separate vote on the government’s program. The opposition maintain, however, that the Cabinet needed a renewed mandate from the parliament because half of its ministers have been replaced since its was appointed in 2016.

Landsbergis asks Amazon to stop sale of Soviet-themed goods

Lithuania’s first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis on Thursday, August 22, called on the US e-commerce giant Amazon to stop selling Soviet-themed products. Landsbergis posted his open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Facebook on the eve of the 80th anniversary of a Nazi-Soviet pact that paved the way for the Soviet occupation of the three Baltic countries. Baltic politicians have repeatedly called in the past on global companies not to sell Soviet-themes products, saying that such goods offend the victims of the Soviet terror.

Seimas approves Sinkevičius’ nomination for European commissioner

Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament, approved on Thursday, August 22, the nomination of Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius for European commissioner. The motion was passed in a vote of 90 to ten with six abstentions. The nomination of the 28-year-old member of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union has already been approved by the government and President Gitanas Nausėda and is yet to be endorsed by the European Parliament. His career includes positions at the state-run airport operator Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports), Lietuvos Paštas (Lithuanian Post) and the government’s foreign investment promotion agency Invest Lithuania.

PM: Lithuania does not need to stimulate economy yet

Lithuania does not yet need to take measures to stimulate the economy, but the government is ready to do so if faced with unfavourable external circumstances, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, August 21. According to Skvernelis, one of the measures to manage risks is to build up a reserve.  Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said last October that the state’s reserve was likely to grow to 1.5 billion euros in 2019. In late March, the Finance Ministry revised its GDP growth forecast for this year downward to 2.6 per cent, from 2.8 per cent previously, and cut its projection for 2020 to 2.4 per cent, from 2.5 per cent.

Lithuanians living abroad to have single-member constituency

The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday, August 20, created conditions for the establishment of a special single-member constituency for Lithuanian citizens voting abroad during general elections. The motion was backed by 88 MPs, four were against and 14 abstained. For the new provisions to be adopted, the president needs to sign the bill into law. Under the proposed amendments, drafted by Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, and his fellow party member Agnė Širinskienė, a single-member constituency for world Lithuanians would be established if during the latest election at Lithuanian embassies and consular establishments, the number of voters exceeds 0.9 per cent of the average number of voters in all single-member constituencies.

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