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Week in Lithuania. President signs decrees on three ministers' dismissal

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Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Friday, December 7, signed decrees to accept the resignations of Jurgita Petrauskienė as education and science minister and Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson as culture minister and to dismiss Kęstutis Navickas from the post of environment minister.

The decrees on the education and environment ministers took effect on Friday and that on the culture minister will come into force on December 21, the president’s office said. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis announced his decision to replace the three ministers on Monday, December 3, saying he had trust in them, but wanted to give fresh impetus to the reforms being carried out in the areas of education, culture and environment.

Lithuania plans to expand its Russian blacklist

Lithuania plans to expand its blacklist of Russian citizens over the recent incident in the Kerch Strait when Russia seized three Ukrainian ships. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday, December 6, it «will introduce restrictive measures against persons responsible for the act of aggression in the Kerch Strait and the Black Sea.» According to the statement, the ministry has officially turned to the Migration Department for persons who «were directly involved in the act of aggression against Ukraine’s military ships», including representatives of Russia’s military leadership, to be included into the national list of persons declared persona non grata. Some 20 people might be put on the blacklist, diplomatic sources say.

MEP Paksas claims to have met with Putin

Lithuanian MEP Rolandas Paksas said on Thursday, December 6, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the previous day and discussed ways to reduce tension in the Baltic Sea region. «I spoke about Lithuania and Kaliningrad, new ties between Lithuania and Kaliningrad so that (…) on that piece of land God gave as the opportunity to live on, we could start disarmament in that place, for stability to come into this region, for foreign banks to come, for technological parks to come, for ecological industry to be developed here and cultural cooperation took place,» Paksas told journalists in Vilnius on Thursday, December 6. Paksas also met with Viacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma, and Valentina Matviyenko, chairwoman of the Federation Council.

Embattled Masiulis to run for Klaipeda mayor’s seat

Eligijus Masiulis, the former leader of Lithuania’s Liberal Movement and one of the defendants in a political corruption case, announced on Thursday, December 6, his decision to run for mayor of the western port of Klaipeda. The Central Electoral Commission confirmed that Masiulis had been registered as an independent participant of the mayoral election’s election campaign in Klaipeda. Masiulis retired from active politics in 2016 when he resigned as an MP and chairman of the Liberal Movement after suspicions were brought against him by law enforcement over a suspected bribe he took from Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice president of the MG Baltic business group.

Zuokas to run for 4th term as Vilnius mayor

Arturas Zuokas, a former mayor of Vilnius, announced on Thursday, December 6, that he will seek to be re-elected to the Lithuanian capital’s top post for a fourth term. Zuokas named fare-free public transport in Vilnius as one of his key tasks if elected next spring, saying that the capital’s main problems are due to transport. The ex-mayor also promised to set up at least four children and youth centers in different places of the city and to continue the work he started during his last term in office. He would also launch a new tender process for the construction of a national stadium, separating it from other EU co-funded projects. Zuokas lost the mayoral seat to Remigijus Šimašius in Lithuania’s first-ever direct mayoral election in 2015. The politician served as the capital’s mayor between 2000 and 2003, 2003 and 2007, and 2001-2015. Currently, he is chairman of the Lithuanian Freedom Union and a member of the City Council of Vilnius.

Seimas increases child benefit to 50 euro

The child benefit will go up from 30 to 50 euros from next year in Lithuania, the country’s parliament decided on Thursday, December 6. Even higher benefits of 70 euros will be paid to disabled children and children from large and poor families, lawmakers decided in a vote with 109 votes in favor, two against and four abstentions. The Ministry of Social Security and Labor says 130.2 million euros will be needed to fund the benefit increase, and 350.7 million euros will be allocated for such payments in general. Currently, parents and carers receive 30 euros for every child a month.

Winners of Lithuanian National Culture and Arts Prize announced

Six winners of this year’s Lithuanian National Culture and Arts Prize were announced in Vilnius on Thursday, December 6. The winners are conductor Mirga Gražinytė, writers Marius Ivaškevičius and Vytautas Martinkus, film cameraman Audrius Kemežys, actor Darius Meškauskas, and visual art creator Artūras Raila, Viktorija Daujotytė-Pakerienė, chairwoman of the prize commission, announced in a ceremony at the Culture Ministry. The prize is awarded annually to up to six individuals or groups for their achievements in culture and arts. Each of them receives 30,400 euros. The winners will be presented with their awards on February 16, when Lithuania will mark the Day of Restoration of State.

Government gives green light for backing UN migration pact

The government gave on Wednesday, December 5, the green light for Lithuania to support a UN migration pact that some countries fear will lead to an increase in illegal migrant flows. Agreed in July after 18 months of negotiations, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is set to be formally adopted at a conference in Morocco on December 10-11.

President honors memory of late US President Bush

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Tuesday, December 4, signed the book of condolences to honor the memory of US President George H. W. Bush. In her message of condolences, the Lithuanian president wrote that George H. W. Bush was a politician of high principles and integrity who saw commitment to protect security, freedom and democracy worldwide as his ultimate duty, and that he was a true friend of Lithuania.

Seimas votes to award Freedom Prize to 7 former partisans

The Lithuanian parliament voted on Tuesday, December 4, to award the Freedom Prize to a group of seven former partisans who fought against the Soviet occupation. The motion was unanimously passed with 93 votes in favor. MP Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, chairwoman of the parliament’s Freedom Prize Commission, said the seven former partisans were selected as symbols of the anti-Soviet resistance movement.


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