Lietuva in brief - 2007-01-31

  • 2007-01-31
The heads of Lithuania's four ruling parties, the Social Democratic Party, Liberal and Center Union, National Farmers' Union and Civil Democracy Party, signed an agreement on Jan. 30 that sets campaign guidelines for the Feb. 25 local elections. The document urges parties to conduct an active campaign that promotes the public spirit of the electorate. It calls on participants to refrain from groundless criticism, humiliation or other improper actions regarding their opponents, and to look for consensus on local problems, respect their opponents' opinions, and present their ideas on municipal governance.

The government plans to send an additional military unit to Afghanistan to support international forces fighting the resurgent Taliban, Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas said. "It is now when our contribution is especially needed. It is very important to unite the efforts of all the allies to achieve the goals of our mission there," Vaitiekunas told the Baltic News Service. The Baltic state currently has some 120 troops in Afghanistan, and has been leading one of NATO's provincial reconstruction team in the province of Ghor since 2005. Vaitiekunas did not specify how many Lithuanian soldiers would be sent, but said the extra troops would be deployed alongside British soldiers, who have been engaged in intense fighting with the Taliban.

The Vilnius Court on Jan. 29 decided that Vilius Kavaliauskas, adviser to Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, did not collaborate with the Soviet KGB. The court's ruling followed Kavaliauskas' complaint against the Lustration Commission's decision that he had collaborated with Soviet security agencies. Based on archive documents the commission announced that Kavaliauskas had acted as a KGB agent under the pseudonym "The King". Kavaliauskas acknowledged he had contacts with KGB, but denied he was an agent or collaborator.

In an effort to encourage more nationals living abroad to watch its programs, Lithuanian Public Radio and Television will soon provide Lithuanian embassies with equipment that enables them to see the station's broadcast. The decoding cards and satellite receivers are to be sent to Lithuania's embassies and consulates in Denmark, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, and Russia and will enable to view LTV programs, which has been broadcasted by satellite since 2005. Some 400,000 Lithuanians are estimated to leave the country since 1990, when it restored its independence after more than half-century-long Soviet occupation.

Culture Minister Jonas Jucas sent a letter to Archbishop of New York Edward Egan, asking not to close the Our Lady of Vilnius Church. In his letter, the minister said that news about the church's possible closure was met with the sadness not only in New York, but also in Lithuania. He asked that the church, which was established in 1905, remain open for ethnic and cultural Lithuanian activities in Manhattan, which enrich "America's cultural heritage."0 The American Bishops Conference plans to close a number of Lithuanian parishes due to economic reasons.