Lietuva in brief - 2005-09-21

  • 2005-09-21
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said Lithuania would benefit if Social Democratic leader Gerhard Schroeder were to take the chancellor's position, rather than his rival, Christian Democratic chief Angela Merkel. "We know one government, and have no knowledge about the other, the way it would be. Therefore, no comparison can be made. I know Mr. Schroeder, and his policy is absolutely obvious," said Brazauskas, who leads Lithuania's Social Democrats.

The Constitutional Court ruled that a law used to close a pro-Chechen independence Web site did not contravene the constitution. The government-approved procedure for controlling the dissemination of prohibited information, which was used by law enforcement when shutting down the Web site, does not contradict the constitution, the court said.

Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis said he approved the Liberal Democrat's initiative to set up an ad-hoc parliamentary commission, which would look into his activities in Poland during the late 1980s, provided such an investigation "reveals the truth." Valionis told the Baltic News Service: "I applaud all initiatives that help reveal the truth and have a negative viewpoint towards the proposals that are of no assistance in the search for the truth." The Liberal Democrats, which is led by impeached President Ronaldas Paksas, have initiated an investigation sparked by a TV show during which former Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas confirmed he had received records of his telephone conversations from Valionis, who was then studying in Warsaw.

Most of the parliamentary factions have no objections to amending two articles of the constitution, Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas said after a meeting between Reinoldijus Sarkinas, chairman of the Bank of Lithuania, and the heads of parliamentary factions. Paulauskas added that the constitution had to be amended by May 2006. The two provisions that must be changed involve the bank chairman's independence and its right to issue money.

A London court sentenced a Lithuanian citizen who had led an international gang of human traffickers to 10 years in jail. The court established that Larcenko, who was also sentenced for laundering money, had sold at least three female Lithuanians since 2003. The latter were forced to work as prostitutes against their will in the United Kingdom. The international criminal grouping was comprised of U.K., Malaysian and Lithuanian citizens. Other members of the gang have already been sentenced.

"We have lost a man who did not allow crimes against humanity to be forgotten," Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas said during a memorial for the late Simon Wiesenthal, who died on Sept. 20. "I see this man's contribution in preserving humanity across the world as titanic work done for the sake of the entire human race," he continued. Wiesenthal passed away at the age of 96 in Vienna. During the last five decades, Wiesenthal had exposed 1,100 Nazi war criminals, including Lithuanian nationals responsible for murdering Jews in World War II.