Lithuania in brief

  • 2005-04-13
MPs staging a hunger strike have proposed legislation that would remove Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis and State Security Department chief Arvydas Pocius, both of whom were listed in the KGB reserve during the Soviet era, from their posts. Petras Grazulis, representing a mixed group of MPs, and Egidijus Klumbys of the Liberal Democratic faction, who initiated a hunger strike against the former KGB reservists in mid-March, registered draft amendments to laws designed to ban such reservists from the state security system. According to the drafted amendments, such officers would be dismissed from office or would have to resign three days after the law went into effect.

Valionis said there is currently no need to raise the question of Russia's obligation to compensate for damages done during the Soviet occupation. "At this time I can say frankly that there are different speculations both on Lithuania and Russia's part, and there is no need to escalate relations by raising this question now," he said after meeting with President Valdas Adamkus this week. He said that he had previously proposed including the issue on the agenda of an intergovernmental commission's agenda, but Russia flatly refused the idea. "Their refusal and our austere response might have put a brake on solving other issues 's for instance, when we were resolving the matter of the Kaliningrad transit," the minister said.

The Siauliai City district prosecutor's office launched a pretrial investigation based on anti-Semitic ideas voiced during a National Democrat event and possible criminal activity of Mindaugas Murza. The investigation is pursuant to Article 170, paragraph 1 of the penal code, which provides for prosecution on grounds of instigation against a group of people of any nation, race, ethnic origins, or religion, the Prosecutor General's Office reported. The law stipulates that such action may entail either a monetary fine, the restriction of freedom, or arrest and imprisonment of up to two years.

The Suduvis minesweeper of the Lithuanian Naval Force is taking part in the Loyal Mariner (Blue Game) 05 NATO exercise that commenced in the Baltic Sea on April 11. The crisis-reaction drill is held in the Baltic and North Sea every year. The Lithuanian vessel's assignment is to search for, identify and neutralize dangerous objects at sea. A total of 50 warships from over 15 countries, as well as military aircraft and helicopters, are participating in the exercise. The Defense Ministry said the large-scale international exercise aims to check the preparedness of ships and their crews.

Kaliningrad's Lithuanian community was shocked by a local authority decision to cancel a Lithuanian cultural center project. A local report claimed that Kaliningrad authorities last week refused to permit the construction of a 1,500-square meter downtown multipurpose hall. Exclave leaders had earlier approved the project, and the mayor's office had pledged to approve a land plot for construction. According to official explanation, disgruntled city residents were behind the change-of-heart. Local Lithuanians, however, blame worsened relations between the Baltic state and Russia.