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Week in Lithuania: ruling parties sign memorandum, CIA prison probe re-emerges

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Ramūnas Karbauskas, the leader of the Lithuanian Union of Farmers and Greens

Last week, Lithuanian politicians honoured the memory of late US Senator John McCain, Neringa Venckienė, an embattled former MP, sought to avert a US immigration court’s decision to hold her asylum hearing in 2022, FNTT said illegal workers were hired for works on Vilnius’ Gediminas Hill.

POLITICS: LFGU, LSDLP, Order and Justice party agree on ruling coalition

The leaders of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), the Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP) of Lithuania and the Order and Justice party on Thursday, May 30, signed a memorandum on a ruling coalition and expected the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance to join it. A ruling coalition involving four parties would have 77 seats in the 141-seat parliament. Under the memorandum, LSDLP is to take over parliament speaker’s post. Viktoras Pranckietis, the current speaker, refuses to step down.

Basketball star refuses EP seat

Šarūnas Marčiulionis, a former Lithuanian basketball star who ran in the European Parliament election on the Farmers and Greens’ list, refuses the seat he won. Ramūnas Karbauskis, chairman of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), confirmed this to journalists on Tuesday, May 28. Marčiulionis’ decision cleared the way for Stasys Jakeliūnas, the next candidate on the LFGU party list, into the European Parliament.

Adamkus calls on president-elect to boost ties with Poland, Germany, US

Lithuania’s former President Valdas Adamkus, who backed Gitanas Nausėda in the election, has called on the president-elect to strengthen ties with Poland, Germany and the United States. In an interview with the daily Lietuvos Rytas, Adamkus praised Nausėda’s decision to go to Poland for his first visit as president. Adamkus, who served two terms as president of Lithuania, in 1998–2003 and 2004–2009, says he feels that Nausėda is ready to communicate with politicians of any calibre.

Šimonytė is not considering offer to lead HU-LCD list yet

MP and former presidential candidate Ingrida Šimonytė said this week she was not considering yet a public proposal by Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, to lead the party’s candidate list in the upcoming parliament election and, in case of success, head the government, after she lost Sunday’s presidential election. She also pledged to consider joining the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

BUSINESS: Lithuania invites China to use it as gateway to European market

Government Chancellor Algirdas Stoncaitis, who met on Friday, May 31, with You Quan, head of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, invited China’s finance minister and its central bank governor to participate in the 17+1 (China, Central and Eastern Europe) High-Level Financial Technology Forum in Vilnius in late November. The government chancellor is travelling to China next week to meet with top officials at the Foreign Ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission, and to take part in a 17+1 event, the Road and Belt Conference and a Lithuania-China business forum.

LEGACY: Politicians honour memory of late US Senator McCain

Lithuanian politicians on Thursday, May 30, honoured the memory of US Senator John McCain, who passed away last year, during the opening of a hall named after him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius reminisced about the republican senator’s support to Lithuania during its path towards independence and seeking NATO and EU membership.

MEDIA: Lithuanian Church wants to keep seat on LRT council

The Lithuanian Catholic Church says there no legal obstacles to it having its representative on the council of the public broadcaster LRT. The comment came after the government suggested this week that the Seimas remove a provision in the law on LRT giving the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference one seat on the public broadcaster’s governing body. The Cabinet argues that under the Constitution, there is no state religion in Lithuania.

JUSTICE: Ex-Lithuanian judge appeals US court decision

Neringa Venckienė, a former Lithuanian judge and lawmaker, has appealed a US immigration court’s decision to push her asylum hearing from 2019 to 2022. Lithuanian prosecutors want Venckienė to be extradited to stand charges of refusing to obey a court order to return her niece to her mother, molesting the child, illicitly collecting information, abusing her rights as the girl’s guardian and other crimes. Venckienė says that the charges are politically motivated and that her life will be put at risk if she is handed over to Lithuania.

Pressure was put on prosecutor in CIA prison probe

The prosecutor in charge of a pre-trial investigation into the alleged CIA detention site in Lithuania faced pressure not to end the probe, Julius Rėksnys, the leader of prosecutors’ trade union said on Wednesday, May 29. The case was investigated by Mindaugas Duda, who then worked as a prosecutor at the Prosecutor General’s Office. Human rights activists believe that one of the sites, the one referred to as Violet in the report, was located near Vilnius.

NEIGHBOURS: Lithuania downplays Estonia, Latvia’s alcohol excise cuts

Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka on Thursday, May 30, attempted to calm those who fear Lithuanians will rush to the neighbouring countries of Latvia and Estonia to buy alcohol after Estonia will cut its alcohol excise by a quarter and Latvia plans to follow. According to the minister, no decisions on cutting excises have been made in Latvia yet.

CRIME: Illegals hired for works on Vilnius’ Gediminas Hill

Investigators suspect that illegal workers from Ukraine and Belarus were hired for reconstruction works on Vilnius’ landmark Gediminas Hill, the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) said on Wednesday, May 29. A pre-trial investigation has revealed that Lithuanian and Polish-registered companies owned a Ukrainian national illegally hired workers from Ukraine and Belarus, forged documents and falsified their account books.

Ex-head of major hospital suspected of bribery

Prosecutors have brought formal suspicions of bribery against Kęstutis Strupas, a former director general of Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos, one of Lithuania’s major hospitals, the Prosecutor General’s Office said on Wednesday, May 29. The Vilnius Regional Prosecutor’s Office has discontinued the part of its investigation regarding abuse of office. It is suspected that Strupas, via Romualdas Kizlaitis, the director of the hospital’s Informatics and Development Centre, demanded illegal financial remuneration, disguised as financial support, from businesses winning public procurement contracts.


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