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Week in Lithuania. Parliament makes first step towards disclosing ex-KGB agents

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The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, June 21, backed an initiative by the opposition Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance to disclose now classified information on former agents of the Soviet KGB who voluntarily admitted their collaboration.

55 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, 34 were against and nine abstained. The bill will now go to parliamentary committees and is set to return to the parliament in the fall. Under the proposed bill, the names of people who voluntarily admitted to have collaborated with the KGB, now classified as a state secret for 75 years, would be revealed as of Jan. 1, 2019. Making public the names of people who have confessed about their past collaboration with the KGB would pose a serious threat to Lithuania’s security and open the way for Russian blackmail, the State Security Department warned.

A new cyber force at Lithuania’s initiative

At Lithuania’s initiative, nine EU member states have agreed to create a cyber rapid response force, Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said on Friday, June 22. Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, the Netherlands and Romania will sign the agreement in Luxembourg on Monday and France, Spain, Poland and Finland will officially join it by the end of the year. Karoblis said that the EU’s rotational teams could come to the aid of member states in the event of major cyber incidents. In his words, the possibility of using EU budget funds to purchase hardware and software for the project will be discussed with EU bodies.

Deputy minister under fire

Vice Minister of Environment Martynas Norbutas has come under fire for attending a seminar for post-Soviet countries in the United States. The politician said the trip was an exceptional opportunity for high-ranking officials to present Lithuania’s position. Meanwhile the opposition say representatives of the Lithuanian government should not attend events when representatives from former Soviet Union countries are invited.

Court suspends Panevėžys mayor for 3 months

A court on Thursday, June 21, suspended Rytis Mykolas Račkauskas, the mayor of the northern Lithuanian town of Panevėžys from office for three months amid corruption suspicions, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General’s Office informed. The mayor, who is suspected of abuse of office and influence peddling, also had to sign a written undertaking not to leave his place of residence. The Lithuanian Special Investigation Service (STT) suspects that Panevėžys municipal administration employees were given unlawful instructions to create favourable conditions for some companies to win public procurement contracts.

Foreign minister meets with Russian journalist in Ukraine

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius met on Thursday, June 21, in Ukraine with Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko whose murder has been recently staged. The meeting took place three weeks after Ukraine’s security services staged the murder of the Kremlin’s critic to protect him from real assassination.

Parliament adopts new energy strategy

The parliament on Thursday, June 21, adopted an updated National Energy Independence Strategy. The strategy has been updated after six years. In the document, Lithuania sets itself a long-term goal to produce all power for its needs, with a particular focus put on the development of clean energy. The document was backed by 103 Lithuanian lawmakers, with no votes against and two abstentions.

Lithuanian, Polish defence chiefs meet

Lithuania’s Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas met with Poland’s military commanders in Warsaw on Thursday, June 21, and discussed the region’s air defence and the defence of the so-called «Suwalki gap». They also spoke of multinational operations, the NATO and US contribution to regional security and the countries’ readiness for collective defence, as well as the development of the trilateral Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Brigade and assistance to Ukraine. The «Suwalki gap» is a land strip of around 100 kilometres on the Lithuanian-Polish border that is wedged between the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the west and Belarus on the east.

Strasbourg court awards compensation

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded thousands of euros to several Lithuanian citizens for stalling land restitution in Vilnius Region. Two women proved that Lithuania had violated their property rights. Lithuanian court initially recognized their rights to land nationalised by Soviet authorities but later cancels them as forests of state significance were situated in those land plots. The court awarded one woman a compensation of 7,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages, and the other one was awarded 3,000 euros.

Lithuania has plan for early disconnection from BRELL

Lithuania has a plan on what to do if it’s disconnected from the Russian power system before its own power system’s synchronisation with continental Europe, Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas said this week, without giving any details but stressing the need to up local power production.

Environment minister survives interpellation

Environment Minister Kęstutis Navickas on Tuesday, June 19, survived an opposition-initiated interpellation against him after lawmakers voted in favour of his answers. 65 Seimas members voted in favour, 34 were against and 11 abstained. Answering lawmaker’s questions on Tuesday, Navickas linked the interpellation against him, initiated by the Social Democrats, with an investigation in the southern city of Alytus into the disappearance of timber. During the interpellation procedure, the opposition asked Navickas about his former employer, Baltijos Aplinkos Forumas, the situation in the waste management sector and the implementation of the forest reform. The environment minister said he had distanced himself from any decision-making in the matters.

Lawmakers want change

Lithuanian lawmakers propose banning persons who have been convicted for corruption from any election for ten years. The ban would apply to general, municipal, mayoral and European Parliament elections. Presidential candidate are already subject to a requirement to be able to run for parliament. The amendments were initiated by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the opposition Social Democratic Labour Party’s political groups in the Seimas.

MPK exported to China for first time

Marijampolės Pieno Konservai (MPK), one of the largest milk processing companies in Lithuania, exported to China for the first time last year. The company exports the largest part of its produce and stepped up exports to Libya, Honk Kong and Germany in 2017.


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