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Ceturtdiena 15.11.2018 | Name days: Undīne, Leopolds, Unda
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Week in Lithuania. President pledges not to publicly support any presidential hopefuls

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Lituania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite

President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday, September 6, that she will not publicly support any candidate in the presidential election next May.

Lithuania’s former diplomat and foreign minister Vygaudas Ušackas, MPs Žygimantas Pavilionis, Aušra Maldeikienė and Naglis Puteikis, and MEP Valentinas Mazuronis have already announced the participation. Gitanas Nausėda, an economist who has recently announced his resignation as advisor to SEN Bankas’ president, and Arvydas Juozaitis, a philosopher and one of the initiators of the Lithuanian reform movement Sąjūdis, have said they are considering running for the post.

PM addresses CIA prison probe

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said Thursday, September 6, that law-enforcement officials must use all possibilities to investigate the circumstances surrounding allegations that the country hosted a secret CIA detention site more than a decade ago.

The government several days ago appealed the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that a Saudi Arabia-born Palestinian was unlawfully interrogated at a secret CIA detention site in Lithuania more than a decade ago. The ECHR ruled in late May that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA prison for terror suspects between 2005 and 2006, ordering the country to pay 130,000 euros in damages to Abu Zubaydah over his alleged unlawful imprisonment in Lithuania.

Lithuania cuts extra spending on papal visit

The maximum amount of the state’s additional spending on organising Pope Francis’ visit to Lithuania later this month goes down from 1.75 million euros to 1.45 million euros, Government Vice-Chancellor Alminas Mačiulis said on Tuesday, September 4. Most of the money will likely go to the Roman Catholic Church of Lithuania via the Foreign Ministry. Additional funding will also be provided to the VIP Protection Department, local authorities in Vilnius and Kaunas, and the Health Ministry. Francis is scheduled to visit Lithuania on September 22 through 23 on the first leg of his tour of three Baltic countries

Another Israeli payment company picks Lithuania

Israel’s payment solutions provider Wittix has set up a subsidiary company in Lithuania. According to information from the Lithuanian Center of Registers, the subsidiarity was registered in late August with Hanan Assis, Wittix’s owner and CTO, as its only shareholder. The new company has an authorised share capital of 350,000 euros. The central bank says that it currently supervises 42 payment institutions and 40 electronic money institutions.

Government’s plan on retail grocery market

The Lithuanian government has worked out a plan of measures to end the alleged domination of large chains in the retail market, and ultimately give a boost to small businesses, Delfi.lt reported on Thursday, September 6. The proposal calls for introducing a state monopoly on alcohol sales, opening state-owned pharmacies at health care institutions and eliminating fees for sellers at state-owned marketplaces in exchange for lower prices. The proposed measures also include penalties for excessive concentration, and state aid to small and medium-sized businesses.

Lithuania furious about Walmart

Lithuania’s ambassador to the United States has called on America’s retail giant Walmart to remove T-shirts with Soviet symbols from sale. In his letter posted on Facebook on Wednesday, September 5, Rolandas Kriščiūnas said that «hundreds of thousands of our citizens were killed, exiled, tortured, raped, separated from their families» after the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania. Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 to 1941 and in 1944 to 1990.

Lithuanian PM named Man of Year 2017

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis was on Wednesday named Man of the Year 2017 in the Krynica Economic Forum in Poland. Skvernelis was awarded for reviving relations between Lithuania and Poland and for close cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.

The forum’s organisers emphasised joint energy and transport projects as they presented the award. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called Skvernelis «a good friend», saying that they were keeping in touch with each other. The Krynica forum, sometimes referred to as the «Eastern Davos», is an annual meeting of Central and Eastern European economic and political elite held in early September since 1992.

Lithuania’s official resigns over poor English

Edmundas Vaitekūnas stepped down as chairman of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK), saying that his English is not good enough for the post. Vaitekūnas confirmed that he had handed in his resignation to the commission and forwarded it to Ramūnas Karbauskis, chairman of the parliament’s Committee on Culture.

Transport minister angry at Latvia

Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis says that Latvians’ demand that Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG) pay them over 82 million euros for the dismantling of a railway track to Renge a decade ago came as a surprise to him and more: it was «a stab in the back», according to him.

LG said on Monday, September 3, that it had received a claim from Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railways) for 57 million euros in compensation for lost profits due to the dismantling of the track. However on Tuesday LDz Cargo, a subsidiary of the Latvian company, announced its demand for another 25.4 million euros. The European Commission last year imposed a fine of 27.87 million euros on LG for hindering competition in the rail freight market by dismantling the Renge track in 2008. The Lithuanian state railway company paid the fine in early January after filing an appeal to the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg against the Commission last December.

Lithuanian biochemist receives Kavli Prize

Professor Virginijus Šikšnys of Vilnius University received a prestigious award, the Kavli Prize, for the discovery of a revolutionary tool for DNA editing at a ceremony is Oslo on Tuesday, September 4. The Lithuanian biochemist will share the 1-million-dollar Kavli prize in Nanoscience with two scientists from Germany and the US. The awards ceremony was attended by Lithuanian Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė.

Customs seize haul of contraband cigarettes

Lithuanian customs officers have found around 400 boxes with Belarusian-made contraband cigarettes, worth around 620,000 euros, hidden in a shipment of wood pellets on a train from the neighbouring country. This is the third large haul of smuggled cigarettes seized in Lithuania over the past two weeks the Customs Criminal Service said on Monday, September 3. It put the total value of the seized cigarettes at nearly 3 million euros.

Breakaway SocDems to get state subsidy

The Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs approved on Wednesday, September 5, a draft law paving the way for the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP) to get a state subsidy. The Seimas is expected to discuss the draft law next week. If the bill is passed, Gediminas Kirkilas’ LSDLP will receive nearly 300,000 euros annually, while Gintautas Paluckas’ Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) will lose almost 400,000 euros per year. The LSDLP was founded earlier this year by Kirkilas and other former LSDP members, who split from the party last year.

Seimas speaker expects deal with Order and Justice

A cooperation agreement between the Order and Justice political group in the Seimas and lawmakers from the ruling bloc will help ensure a stable majority in the parliament in voting on major issues, the speaker of the Seimas said on Tuesday, September 4. The Order and Justice has put forward a list of 15 measures that the Seimas should adopt by the end of its current tenure.


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