Lietuva in brief - 2006-02-08

  • 2006-02-08
The extradition case of former Russian banker Igor Babenko, suspected of fraud in Russia, will not be closed soon. After the Prosecutor General's Office appealed the Migration Department's decision to grant him asylum in Lithuania, the Court of Appeals decided to suspend its hearings. The court was due to reopen hearings into Babenko's extradition case on Feb. 7. After the banker applied for asylum, the court suspended the extradition case until the issue was decided. The Migration Department granted refugee status to Babenk on Jan. 30, and gave him permission to live in Lithuania. After analyzing case material, an appellate judge decided that the asylum process had not been completed. The extradition case can only be resumed after a Vilnius court confirms or rejects Babenko's status. Russian prosecutors faxed a letter signed by the deputy prosecutor general, arguing that Babenko was not persecuted for political reasons.

The United States Congress provided Lithuania with little hope of joining the visa-waiver program in the near future, said Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas, currently in Washington, D.C. During an interview with Lithuania's national radio, Paulauskas discussed his meetings with U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Congressman John Shimkus and Senator Richard Durbin. "No specific timeframe was indicated, although Congressman Shimkus, who was present at the meeting with Hastert, stressed that Lithuania had implemented many pre-conditions for a visa-free regime," said Paulauskas. "We, however, did not hear any consolable responses. Quite the opposite: Both Senator Durbin and House Speaker Hastert stressed American security matters, border control issues and made it clear that the issue would not be addressed soon and that a visa-free regime should not be expected in the nearest future," said the parliamentary speaker.

The Radio and Television Commission ordered that cable TV operators stop retransmitting programs of two TV channels ruled by an ethics commission to contain pornographic material. Cable TV operators said they would seek to cancel the order. "[The commission's] decision is totally unexpected to us and, of course, it is disadvantageous. We will complain against it or take other steps to have it cancelled," said Zilvinas Balandis of the Lithuanian Cable TV Association, which brings together around 50 companies. Balandis said he could not understand why Adult Channel, which had been retransmitted in Lithuania as an erotic channel for several years, had all of a sudden become pornographic.