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Saturday 25.01.2020 | Name days: Sigurds, Zigurds
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Will young Lithuanian celebs wriggle out from conscription?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Tautvydas Sabonis (right)

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

This week has been really hot for Lithuania’s men between 18 and 26 – the Ministry of Land Defence has announced a 36,825-conscript list for mandatory military service.

Among the drafted not only moustache-less youths from rural villages, but also high-end lifestyle boasting sport stars, like Lithuanian basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis’ son Tautvydas, also a hoopster, and the best Lithuanian tennis player Ričardas Berankis. Will they get recruited amid the calls for conscription fairness?

A historic moment?

The former is listed 1168th and the latter is 25,445th, so the basketball rising star, experts say, may end up in the barracks. Among the celebrities on the list is a handful promising footballers, rugby and handball players.

The Ministry has been long insisting that fairness was of key importance in drawing up the conscript list.

This year, only 3,000 men will be drafted during two calls, but first will be invited volunteers.

They, for example, will be able to pick location of service and pocket one-quarter larger service payouts.

According to the Ministry’s May 11 data a total of 1124 persons have signed up for the volunteer service and the Ministry encourages all men aged 18-26 to come forward for the service.

«This is really a historic moment. We’ve just finished forming the list of draftees. The whole procedure was transparent. I really would like to express gratitude for the youths who voluntarily chose the path,» said Juozas Olekas, the Lithuanian Defence Minister.

The names of conscripts are put out on the Ministry’s website, as well as on www.karys.lt (in Lithuanian). Draftees will be summoned by registered mail to local volunteer registration centres, where their papers will be checked before the men are sent for military medical check-ups.

Based on the 2008 conscription, only 30 percent of all army recruits fit for military service. The rest are culled because of medical conditions.

The first conscripts are expected to start filling the barracks on August 24 in the Lithuanian Grand Duke Butigeidis dragoon battalion in Klaipėda.

Lithuania had already conscription, but it was put indefinitely on hold in 2008.

A tiny puppy for Russian cannons?

After announcing the conscripts list the web started sizzling with fever, ranging from pacifistic pouting, to dismay, angst and rebellion to fewer patriotic flare-ups on the duty to defend own Motherland.

«Imagine a tiny puppy unable to walk and who suffers from a slower development. It take quite some time for him until he gets on his feet, but now he will have not only walk, but run soon. And then some angry middle-aged men crop up and break the puppy’s paws. All of them to make him disabled for a while. Here we go: I am the puppy now!» shouts a 23-year-old Kostas, who works and lived in Sweden now.

Asked by Delfi.lt whether he will try to dodge the service, the youth shrugged saying he won’t go against the law.

«I can just hope that I won’t clinch the list if professional medics will be going over my case- I have some heart and back issue. But if they turn blind eyes onto my health issue, then nine months from my life will be spent to make the Russian soldiers brag they have killed just another trained (Lithuanian) soldier if the third world war breaks out,» bantered the young man.

The other fellow in a comment was lamenting of a knee injury he had incurred while playing basketball. «After long rehabilitation the pain was subdued, but I cannot still feel fully recuperated. But now I will run on the court no matter what and will be tiring the knee until I am sure the military doctors will thumb me down,» he said.

Wives are cheesed off

Another man who was planning his wedding and has a mortgage was whining on the web he has worked his butt off to have the new apartment and to start family life.

«Is that what for I’ve been working so hard all those extra hours to make it all happening? Now I will have to swap it all for a 100-euro wage and all is just screwed up. How one would feel in my shoes?» the to-be groom fumed.

The listed draftees’ relatives also were largely pissed at the announcement.

«My husband is in the list. We raise an 8-month infant, we have mortgage and I am on maternity leave. So you see, will the state cover all our expenses now? Where is the justice?» a young wife and mother fretted.

Whereas, patriotism-laden, exalting posts have sunk in the avalanche of the hostile postings.
«Hey, c’mon all, we have just one Motherland, so get ready to stand up for it when it needs, do not be whimpers!” a dude going by the name «brave one» says.

Will the conscription watchdogs be fair?

Although the most-watched these days list includes some big names, the Defence Minister’s fresh order envisions exempting most talented men with outstanding achievements in sports, art, science and other fields from the compulsory military service.

But the last word on the cases will be up to local recruiting centres.

Some high-ranking military officials, however, insist no one will be exempted from the military draft as it would taint the entire pursuit of transparency.

Asked by BNN if Berankis, the Lithuanian tennis star, is ready to hang the tennis racket and grab a rifle as a conscript, Ramūnas Grušas, president of Lithuania’s Tennis Union, believes law has to be respected, but reasoned there is the flip side of the coin.

«There are many chaps out there who are willing voluntarily to enroll. And there are many fellows there who neither work nor study, so I reckon they have to be the first to be drafted. Look, Ričardas (Berankis) is very talented and he does make the name of Lithuania more famous, so it just does not make sense to draft him,» the president told BNN.

He admitted Berankis had called him and enquired about draft, but has not voiced out his position on it and his plans.

Draft would sweep away entire roster

Echoing, Regimantas Juška, a basketball coach in western Lithuania, also believes that first men who are unemployed and who are not in schools have to be recruited.

«Look, if all the basketball players from «Palanga» team, which I used to coach, will be drafted, the roster will be nearly empty,” the coach told BNN.

He said he served in the Soviet army himself and remembered that it had a special unit for athletes.

«If there really is need to recruit promising athletes, why can a similar unit be formed in the Lithuanian Army to keep the sportsmen in shape?» Juška asked rhetorically.

Arūnas Vaitulionis, the« Palanga» club owner, says it would be «disastrous» for the team if the young players between 18 and 26 get drafted.

«We would virtually need to put together the team from scratch,» he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Nerijus Masiulis, the president of Lithuanian basketball coaches, says he still cannot make up his mind on the best players as servicemen.

«It’s a really hard one for me, frankly,» he confessed to BNN.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.1489


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