President Valdas Adamkus awarded 93 people, including the late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, with the memorial Jan. 13 medal. As Lithuania celebrated the Day of Freedom Defenders, Adamkus conferred the medal upon national and foreign citizens who actively defended the nation's independence in the January-September period of 1991. Zhvania, the popular leader of the 2003 rose revolution who died of gas poisoning last year, was awarded post-mortem.
The prime minister's adviser, Vilius Kavaliauskas, is suspected of collaboration with the KGB. According to reports, the Lithuanian Lustration Commission discovered that Kavaliauskas was involved with the Soviet secret service, and the latter has since taken the decision to court. Arvydas Anusauskas, a well-known investigator of Soviet structures, said Kavaliauskas, who worked in a Soviet news agency in the United States, often participated in KGB operations. His tasks allegedly included sending Lithuanian art collectors living in the United States back to the country, and using their homecomings for Soviet propaganda.
Lithuania is the most advanced EU member in terms of transferring EU directives into law, the European Commission reported. The Justice Ministry cited the EC report as stressing that the Baltic state's percentage value of national law compatibility with provisions of EU directives was the highest at 99.45 percent. In the report, Lithuania is followed closely by Spain (99.09 percent), Austria (98.81 percent), Denmark (98.81 percent) and Hungary (98.66 percent). "This is an enormous appreciation and also responsibility, which does not allow us to loosen up," Justice Minister Gintautas Buzinskas said.
A Vilnius court sentenced Klaipeda mobster Sigitas Gaidjurgis to life imprisonment for 16 premeditated murders, organizing a criminal group and other serious crimes. Law-enforcement officials said they could not remember a verdict in the country where a single person was found guilty of so many murders. The murders were committed about a decade ago in various parts of the country: in Klaipeda, Palanga, Siauliai, Trakai district and elsewhere. The victims included Lithuanian and foreign citizens. Formed about 15 years ago, the Gaidjurgis gang used both firearms and explosives. Gaidjurgis, 46, put a special focus on conspiracy - he would demand that his accomplices constantly change their clothes and appearance.