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Week in Lithuania. President doubts Justice minister's competence

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A soldier attends a flag rising ceremony next to the Presidential palace during the country’s centenary celebration in Vilnius, Lithuania

President Dalia Grybauskaitė says that she doubts whether Justice Minister Milda Vainiūtė and Deputy Justice Minister Raimondas Bakšys are competent enough to perform their duties.

The president’s comment came after Rasa Kazenienė, a former employee of the Lithuanian Prisons Department who currently works at the Justice Ministry, said that Deputy Justice Minister Bakšys could have stalled an audit of the prison system. Grybauskaitė plans to discuss the issue of Vainiūtė’s responsibility and her staying in office with Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis after he returns from his vacation.

Kazenienė said at a news conference on Wednesday, February 28, that Bakšys had blocked a proposal by her and Dorita Visalgienė, the head of the ministry’s Centralized Internal Audit Division, to turn to law-enforcement bodies during an inspection of the Pravieniškės correctional facility.

According to Kazėniene, Justice Minister Vainiūtė was present at the meeting during which the vice-minister allegedly put a brake on the initiative. Vainiūtė denied having stalled «any processes».

Ministry proposes to delay ratification of Istanbul Convention

The Lithuanian Social Security and Labour Ministry proposes to postpone the ratification of the so-called Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women until a compromise is reached on the concept of gender, a position that has angered the country’s foreign minister. What has caused the most controversy in Lithuania is the definition of gender. Debates centre on the English term «gender» and its Lithuanian translation «socialine lytis», or «social gender». Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius signed the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence back in 2013, but the Seimas has not yet ratified it. The minister did not try to conceal his anger at the decision, saying that the ratification of the document would help curb violence against women.

Snoras claims 306 mn from Swiss bank Julius Baer

Snoras seeks to recover 306.3 million euros from the Swiss bank Julius Baer and two former employees of the bankrupt Lithuanian bank. The Vilnius Regional Court last September ruled that Snoras’ claim had to be heard by Swiss courts, but the Lithuanian Court of Appeals on Mar. 1 overturned the ruling and sent the case back to the first instance court for further examination.

Snoras’ ex-managers to be tried in absentia

Raimundas Baranauskas and Vladimir Antonov, former managers and shareholders of Snoras, a Lithuanian bank that went bankrupt in late 2011, are planned to be tried in Lithuania in absentia as they are hiding in Russia. The Vilnius District Court on Wednesday, February 28, named Baranauskas and Antonov as suspects beyond the reach of Lithuanian law-enforcement, one of its prerequisites for putting persons in hiding on trial, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

Lithuania, Poland restoring inter parliamentary assembly

Amid the recent thaw in relations between Lithuania and Poland, parliamentary speakers of the two countries agreed to restore the bilateral parliamentary assembly that was frozen in 2009. Lithuania’s Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis told journalists after meeting with Poland’s Senate Speaker that the assembly’s first meeting will be initiated by the Polish side after almost a decade. Poland has lately softened its tone regarding the situation of the Polish ethnic community in Lithuania.

Lithuania ready for litigation with Kaspersky Lab

Lithuania’s government is ready to go to court with Russia-based computer security company Kaspersky Lab over the government’s decision to restrict the use of its software on sensitive computers, says Defence Vice-Minister Edvinas Kerza. In his words, the government’s decision to ban Kaspersky Lab software in information resources of particular importance was taken last December based on strong evidence on threats to national security.

OECD: Lithuania must solve demographic problems

Amid the declining population, Lithuania should tackle demographic problems and ensure quality of jobs, says the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the country aims to join. According to calculations by OECD experts, Lithuania’s population has been shrinking by 1 per cent every year in the past years, with people emigrating for better-paid jobs. Forecasts suggest that the share of the working age population will decline by 9 percent by 2020 and by further 20 percent over the next decade, OECD said in a press release.

Former Kaunas mayor back in Seimas

The Lithuanian Central Electoral Commission on Wednesday, February 28, cancelled Tadas Langaitis’ mandate as a member of the Seimas at the conservative lawmaker’s request. Langaitis will be replaced in the Seimas by Andrius Kupčinskas, a former mayor of Lithuania’s second-biggest city of Kaunas, who was the next-in-line candidate on the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ list in the 2016 general elections.

Ministry set to raise soldier wages

Salaries of troops serving in Lithuania’s military should go up by 30 per cent within the next four years, officials of the Defence Ministry say, adding that new packages of social benefits have been drafted in an effort to motivate troops to stay in service.

Strasbourg court rejects complaint over book

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday, February 27, rejected a complaint by the daughter of the late Lithuanian writer Vytautas Petkevičius over her liability for false statements published in her father’s book about the father of Lithuania’s first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis. The Strasbourg court upheld Lithuanian courts’ arguments that statements contained in the book entitled «Durniu Laivas» (The Ship of Idiots) insulted the honour and dignity of Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis and his son and that Petkevičius’ children have the obligation to ensure that these statements are not reproduced.

Figure listed in Panama Papers to invest in Klaipėda FEZ

Capella Baltica, a company recently founded in Lithuania, intends to invest 10 million euros in powder and oil extracts factory and laboratory in the Klaipeda Free Economic Zone (FEZ) and hire up to 40 employees. Yevgeny Strazding Zotov is the founder and top executive of Capella Baltica established in Lithuania last December. According to data provided by the Centre of Registers, Strazding Zotov lives in Spain, however, information collected by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in the Panama Papers research, shows that Strazding Zotov is registered in Moscow and held a stake in Capella Star Group registered in the Virgin islands.

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