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Lietuva in brief - 2006-10-25

  • 2006-10-25
The state appeals court decided against extraditing Russian banker Igor Babenko, who is wanted by Moscow on charges of embezzling 333 million Russian rubles (10 million euros). Last week, Babenko was released from prison in Lithuania, where he had been held since July 2005 following his arrest. When charged, the banker was managing a bank controlled by the now bankrupt Russian oil giant Yukos. In September, a Lithuanian court ordered Babenko to be extradited, but procedures were frozen following Babenko's request for asylum.

Hubertas Grusnys, the 46-year-old owner of three radio stations, was killed in a plane crash on Oct. 21. The plane, which was piloted by Grusnys, crashed at the Pociunai Airport during a take-off. It was reported that Grusnys' aircraft grazed a glider's rope, caught fire and subsequently crashed. Grusnys died on the spot. An investigation has been launched into the incident, but according to reports it is believed the crash was Grusnys' mistake. In 1989, the pilot co-founded the radio station M-1, the first private radio broadcaster in Eastern Europe. He also owned radio stations M-1 Plus and Lietus, one of the most popular broadcasters in Lithuania.

Seventy-three people were registered with HIV in the first nine months of 2006, the Lithuanian AIDS Center reported. Ninety-six people were infected over the same period in 2005, of which 58 were men and 15 women. More than half, or 44, contracted the virus from shared needles. The youngest infected was an 18-year-old and the oldest was 65. Vilnius reported 11 new HIV cases, while the port city Klaipeda has 12. A total of 1,173 HIV cases have been registered in Lithuania as of Oct. 1, 2006, including 114 people diagnosed with AIDS. Some 45 people have already died of AIDS. However, the HIV rate in Lithuania is considerably lower than neighboring Latvia, Poland and Russia's Kaliningrad region.