Lietuva in brief - 2006-01-11

  • 2006-01-11
The government voiced alarm over Poland's decision to halt construction of the Via Baltica highway designed to connect the three Baltic states and Poland. "The Polish move to bring the Via Baltica project to a standstill is disquieting. We hope the construction will be renewed, as the need for a new highway is evident," Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis said. Last month the Polish environment minister announced the cancellation of construction permits for three stretches of Via Baltica since they broke legal standards and violated environmental requirements.

Kazakh officials assured Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis that they were interested in buying shares of the Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery. Possibilities for cooperation and transit of energy resources were addressed during Valionis' meetings with his Kazakh colleauge Kasymzhomart Tokayev.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who is thought to be one of the biggest money launderers in the world, apparently used the services of Lithuanian banks while conducting his financial operations. Investigators at the Financial Crime Investigation Service came to this conclusion after cooperating with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the paper, Lazarenko used Hermis, Lithuania's second largest bank at that time, for his money laundering schemes in 1998. Some $30 million was transferred to accounts in the bank. The money has been kept in an account at Vilniaus Bankas since the end of 1999, when the bank took over Hermis. In the near future, the FBI is expected to ask Lithuania to seize the money and hand it over to the United States.

Last week the Vilnius District Court extended Russian banker Igor Babenko's arrest for another three months, which he will have to spend at the Lukiskes interrogation unit-prison in Vilnius. The court decided that the reasons for and conditions of arrest had not changed and the process of extradition had not been finished. Babenko, 55, who attended the court hearing, restated that he had not committed any of the crimes that he was being charged with by Russian law enforcement agencies, who have requested his extradition.

A new blood cleaning procedure was carried out at Kaunas Medical University Clinics for the first time in the Baltic states. The procedure, called cascade plasmapheresis, was performed on a middle-aged man suffering from a syndrome causing production of immunoglobulin in his blood, which damages the nervous system, the Kaunas Medical University Clinics reported.