Lietuva in brief - 2006-11-01

  • 2006-11-01
The Eastern Europe Studies Center (EESC) was opened in Vilnius on Oct. 27. Established by Vilnius University's Institute of International Relations and Political Science and the Foreign Ministry, the EESC will research regional domestic and foreign policy, as well as organize international scientific conferences and seminars. "The goal of the Eastern Europe Studies Center is to become the strongest regional analytical center of Eastern European issues," the center's director, Kristina Vaiciunaite, said.

Parliament's national defense and security committee urged President Valdas Adamkus to suspend the head of the state security department, Arvydas Pocius, on Oct. 25. During a five-hour extraordinary meeting, held after the security chief removed three top counterintelligence officers from their positions, the committee said that Pocius' actions "fanned tensions and posed a threat to the department's work." The president said that he would not take any steps until the investigation ended. Adamkus also refused to hear comments from members of the national defense and security committee, who wanted to explain their arguments against Pocius.

The government has denied reports by the Russian media about Lithuanian spies in Russia, saying the coverage could be a reaction to the recent decision to expel a Russian diplomat from Lithuania. "We are not involved in such activities," Petras Vaitiekunas, Lithuania's foreign relations minister said after an Oct. 31 meeting with President Valdas Adamkus. Vaitiekunas stressed that the statement by Vladimir Nosov, who represents Russia's Federal Security Service, that Russia had deported two Lithuanian citizens, including a Defense Ministry courier, for collecting classified information was not true. In the beginning of October, Lithuania ordered the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Vilnius to leave the country, saying he was involved in illegal intelligence activities.

President Valdas Adamkus will turn 80 on Nov. 3. Born in Kaunas, Adamkus fled to the United States during World War II, and spent most of his life in the U.S.A. He returned to Lithuania after it regained independence, having recently retired from the United State's federal Environment Protection Agency, and was elected as Lithuanian president in 1998. Adamkus lost the 2002 presidential election to Rolandas Paksas, but was given another chance to run after Paksas was impeached in April 2004. Adamkus now is one of the oldest heads of state in Europe.

According to the daily Kauno Diena, emigrants in the U.K. might be the first to actively take advantage of their rights as EU citizens and be elected to local councils abroad. There is currently only one Lithuanian party active in Ireland, the Dublin based Lithuanian Liberal Union. "It is hard to tell how we will get into local power structures, but we have decided to become active," said party leader Mindaugas Vidugiris.