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Week in Lithuania: Precious historical documents found, hints of a new coalition, China riled

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Last week young Lithuanian historians brought from Russia to Lithuania documents shedding light on the lives of the 1918 Independence Act signatories; before the presidential election on May 12, in a last-ditch effort to attract more supporters, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis was making profuse promises; daily Lietuvos Žinios, one of the oldest newspapers, ceases publishing.

HISTORY: Copies of Lithuanian independence act signatories’ files brought from Russian archives

Copies of student files of Antanas Smetona, Jonas Vileisis, Steponas Kairys and other signatories of Lithuania’s 1918 declaration of independence, and of documents of other public and religious figures have been found in Russian archives and brought to Lithuania, Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) said on Thursday, May 2. Copies of historical documents of signatories, diplomats and clergymen have been brought by two doctoral students at VDU, Viktoras Bilotas and Gediminas Kasparavčius.  Lithuania’s historians were given access to many archives in Russian for the first time.

POLITICS: PM hints at a possible new coalition

Lithuanian parliamentarians were discussing possible scenarios after Saulius Skvernelis on Thursday, May 2, hinted that he may quit as prime minister if he is not elected president, but some politicians interpret his move as an attempt to manipulate voters. Some opposition MPs say Skvernelis, who was delegated to his post by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), is trying to mobilize his voters in the run-up to the election.

PM unveils his presidential election program

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says he will work with the government to increase the average old-age pension to 400 euros and raise the so-called child benefit to 70 euros by July 2020 if he wins the presidential election on May 12.

PM accepts Minsk’s offer to hold talks

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says he accepts Belarus’ offer to hold talks on a joint system for monitoring the Astravyets nuclear power plant, but admits that he expected Minsk to consider his idea of converting the facility under construction close to the border into a gas-fuelled plant.

Skvernelis’ comment comes after Minsk rejected his plan to convert the Astravyets plant into a facility powered by natural gas.

Lithuania approves humanitarian aid for Venezuela

Lithuania has approved 100,000 euros in humanitarian aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela. The government decided last week to allocate the money from a state reserve fund. The aid will be channelled via the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry told BNS in a response.

Paluckas re-elected chairman of LSDP

Gintautas Paluckas was re-elected as chairman of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party. Paluckas received 90 percent of the vote, defeating his only challenger, Algirdas Sysas, with 10 percent. Some 43 percent of the party’s 17,300 members turned out for the election, he said. The party’s congress took place on May 4. The LSDP, the country’s largest political party, currently holds eight seats in the Seimas.

RELATIONS: China denounces MPs’ support for Taiwan

Beijing’s embassy in Vilnius has denounced a call by more than half of Lithuanian parliamentarians for Taiwan to be invited to the World Health Organization’s main annual meeting as «a gross interference in China’s domestic affairs». Eighty members of the 141-seat Seimas from across the political spectrum, including Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga, have signed a letter to the WHO director general, calling for Taiwan to be granted access to the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in May.

MEDIA: Daily ceases publishing

The daily Lietuvos Žinios, one of the oldest newspapers in Lithuania, appeared on newsstands for the last time on Tuesday, April 30. The publisher of Lietuvos Žinios, which also owns the online news sites Lzinios.lt and Jonavosnaujienos.lt and Naujienos, a local newspaper in the central district of Jonava, was liquidated from May 1. Achemos Grupė, the owner of Lietuvos Žinios, says it decided to stop subsidising the company, which has operated at a loss for a long time. Lietuvos Žinios posted a net loss of 963,300 for 2018.

BUSINESS: Haulers mull relocating to Poland

 In fear of new EU restrictions, Lithuanian haulage companies threaten to relocate their businesses to Poland or other countries to be closer to their key markets in Western Europe. Mečislavas Atroškevičius, secretary-general of the national road carriers’ organisation, Linava, said on May 2 that transport companies are looking for ways to protect their businesses if the EU’s new Mobility Package comes into force.

Vilnius-London City flights hailed

The launch of a direct service between Vilnius Airport and London City Airport will give Lithuania another opportunity to attract London-based companies in the context of Brexit, Economy and Innovation Minister Virginijus Sinkevičius said on Tuesday ahead of LOT Polish Airline’s first business flight between Vilnius Airport and London City Airport on Wednesday, May 1. Paris and Munich are also mentioned among the airports that are important for business travellers.

Ignalina NPP lowers final closure cost estimate

Lithuania’s Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP), which was shut down almost a decade ago, has revised its total decommissioning cost estimate to 3.316 billion euros, down by some 60 million euros compared with that five years ago. The company said on Monday, April 29 that it had submitted its updated Final Decommissioning Plan to the competent authorities for approval. INPP CEO Audrius Kamiešas said the downward cost revision was mostly due to revised inflation projections.

Soldiersmarch in NATO membership parade in Warsaw

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblison Friday, May 3, watched a military parade marking the 20th anniversary of Poland’s accession to NATO and the May 3 Constitution Day. Sixteen soldiers from the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ Honour Guard Company marched in the parade alongside military formations of Poland and other allies.


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