Lietuva in brief - 2007-05-09

  • 2007-05-09
President Valdas Adamkus on May 5 signed a decree asking Parliament to vote for the dismissal of Arvydas Pocius, head of the State Security Department. This is the second such decree on Pocius' removal. The first was signed at the beginning of April, but Parliament then failed to remove the chief of Lithuania's highest law enforcement agency. Pocius handed in his resignation at the end of December 2006, following a parliamentary resolution declaring him unable to carry out his duties at the department. Adamkus has not yet revealed who he will put forth to replace Pocius, but the president's advisers recently confirmed that Algis Vaiceliunas, head of the Baltic Defense College in Estonia, is among the top candidates.

A Soviet sculpture in Vilnius was smeared with anti-Russian slogans on May 6, Vilnius police said. One of the four sculptures posted on the bridge that spans the Neris river near the city center was painted with the inscription "Russians out." A gallows and red star were also painted on it. Police have said they've launched an investigation to find out who committed the crime, which qualifies as instigating hatred on an ethnic basis. It is believed that the incident is related to the recent conflict between Estonia and Russia spurred by Estonia's decision to remove a Soviet monument from the center of Tallinn.

The three Baltic countries should put all efforts into ensuring that the NATO-sanctioned Baltic air policing mission is extended until 2018, President Adamkus said May 3. The president made the statement during his visit to the National Airspace Control Centre in Karmelava, which serves as a command center for the NATO air police mission. Adamkus stressed that the mission should be extended as neither Lithuania nor all three Baltic states combined could acquire the modern fighters needed to protect their airspace. Older NATO members have taken turns patrolling Baltic air space from Zokniai airport since March 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the military alliance. Some 120 French troops and four fighters are currently serving in Lithuania.

British police and customs officers found an illegal tobacco factory allegedly established and operated by Lithuanian citizens, the Lietuvos Rytas daily reported on May 4. The factory was located in the Lestershire region of central England. At the site police found equipment for producing cigarettes and some 11 tons of tobacco in sacks, but it failed to detain the manufacturers. However, it was announced that those suspected of establishing the illegal facility are Lithuanian citizens. Lietuvos Rytas, referring to unnamed sources, said that Lithuanian and Latvian smugglers Robertas and Viktoras had established the factory.

Criminal police found a 5.5 kilogram stash of heroin, or enough to make 100,000 doses, in a truck registered in Kazakhstan near the Lithuanian border on May 7 . It was the largest amount of heroin ever confiscated in the Baltic state.