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Week in Lithuania. Supreme Court apologises for «lost trust in justice»

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Lithuania’s Supreme Court on Thursday, February 28, issued an apology to the public for lost trust in justice amid an ongoing investigation into judicial corruption, also adding that honest judges have also been affected by comments criticising the judicial system.

Based on the latest information, suspicions have been brought against 33 persons, including eight judges, six lawyers, Ričardas Malinauskas, mayor of Lithuania’s southern resort town of Druskininkai, and his adviser Aivaras Kadziauskas, in the case. According to law enforcement, the judges are suspected of having accepted bribes, ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 euros, in exchange for favourable rulings.

In the latest development, law-enforcement officials detained on Wednesday, February 27, Gintaras Ruseckas, a Vilnius lawyer, and another four people as part of their large-scale judicial system corruption investigation.

Central bank turns to prosecutors over fake SMS messages about Swedbank

The Bank of Lithuania has turned to the Prosecutor General’s Office over fake SMS messages claiming that Swedbank will cease operations on March 2 and telling its customers to transfer their funds to a given account in another bank. The Bank of Lithuania says fraudsters are trying to swindle money out of Swedbank’s customers amid media reports about alleged money laundering via the bank.

Government opts to litigate 2nd CIA prison claim in Strasbourg court

The government decided to litigate a second claim brought against Lithuania in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to allegations that the country hosted a secret CIA prison more than a decade ago. In late January, the Strasbourg-based court accepted a petition filed by Mustafa al-Hawsawi, a Saudi national who claims that he was illegally detained in Lithuania, and asked the government to submit its position.

The Cabinet discussed two possible options: one was to seek an amicable settlement and the other was to dismiss the claim and litigate. Lithuanian government officials told the Strasbourg court that the suspected building in Antaviliai, in the outskirts of Vilnius, had been «an intelligence support centre» and that the suspected planes had transported communication equipment rather than people to Lithuania.

MP Gelūnas wins competition to lead Lithuanian Arts Museum

Liberal MP and former Minister of Culture Arūnas Gelūnas has won the competition to lead the Lithuanian Art Museum, Jana Mikulevič, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Culture, said on Thursday, February 28. All in all, three candidates had vied for the position. Gelūnas will replace Romualdas Budrys who has served in the position for 40 years.

President dismisses talk of «pragmatic approach» to Belarus’ NPP

President Dalia Grybauskaite said on Thursday, February 28, that Lithuania must continue to seek that Belarus close its nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets, just 50 kilometres from Vilnius, dismissing talk of «a pragmatic approach» toward the facility as «an attempt to trade in people’s security». Her comment came after Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Thursday he would propose a «rational» solution to Belarus as an alternative to closing the almost-complete plant.

Lithuania set to join Poland against EU commission over Gazprom

Lithuania is joining an international case in which Poland contests the European Commission’s decision in its anti-trust probe into Gazprom’s operations in Central and Eastern Europe. The Cabinet approved on Wednesday, February 27, the Energy Ministry’s proposal to back Poland’s state-run gas company PGNiG in its action brought in the EU General Court. The EU’s executive body last May did not impose a fine on the Russian gas giant.

Seimas speaker vows to push Polish name bills through

Following his recent visit to Poland, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis says he will seek to push through the bills on the original spelling of Polish names in Lithuanian ID documents, stalled in the parliament. He said he did not hold a separate discussion on the issue with Polish politicians during his recent visit as «the bilateral assembly is an acting institution and has commissions, and those commissions are discussing those issues». The Lithuanian Seimas speaker visited Poland early last week.

Paleckis, suspected of spying for Russia, detained for another two months

Vilnius District Court has extended the detention of Algirdas Paleckis, suspected of spying for Russia, for another two months until late April.Paleckis has been detained since October.

Lithuania’s law enforcement said in December it had launched an investigation into suspected spying for Russia, with suspicions brought against «a whole network of persons», including Paleckis, former leader of the Socialist People’s Front.

Lithuanian soldiers unharmed in Mali attack

Lithuanian soldiers were not harmed during an attack on the Koulikoro training centre of the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM), the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday, February 25.The mission informed the ministry that the attack involving two vehicles loaded with explosives and armed attackers had occurred early on Sunday, February 24.

Two Lithuanian instructors are currently serving in the EU training mission: one in Koulikoro and the other in Bamako. A total of around 40 Lithuanian soldiers are currently serving in the West African country.

MP Bakas appeals MG Baltic reputation damage ruling

Lithuanian MP Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence, has appealed against the Vilnius City District Court’s ruling stating that he did damage to the MG Baltic business group’s reputation when he likened the company to an organized criminal group and said it had caused damage to the state.

The court concluded that Bakas’ statements did not match the reality and were damaging to MG Baltic’s business reputation.MG Baltic took Bakas to court over his statements that the business group’s activities bore signs of an organized criminal group and that it had caused around 500 million euros in damage to the state.

Modus Group borrows10 mn euro for solar projects in Poland

Lithuania’s Modus Group, owned by businessmen Kestutis Martinkėnas, is borrowing 10 million euros from Poland’s mBank to fund solar energy projects in Poland.

The money will be used by Green Genius, part of the Modus Group, to install solar power generation plants with the capacity of 20MW.The project will mark the completion of the stage of investment into solar energy projects in Poland where Green Genius will have installed solar power generation plants with the total capacity of 50MW, Modus Group said in a statement.


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