A recent survey has found that nearly half (48.4 percent) of Lithuania's city dwellers believe that what the current political system resembles most is chaos. In the poll, commissioned by the Veidas weekly and carried out June 21 - 22, more than 21 percent of the 500 respondents said they believe that the country is currently moving from socialism to capitalism, over 17 percent said capitalism is the system that currently prevails in Lithuania, and 5 percent said they live under a system of slavery.
Parliament has approved amendments to the constitution that mark a first step towards direct mayoral elections. In a June 28 vote, 100 lawmakers in the 141-seat Parliament voted in favor of the amendments, five voted against and nine abstained. According to Lithuanian law, a constitutional amendment can be passed after the parliament votes on the issue twice. A second vote is scheduled for this fall. Currently mayors are elected by municipal councils, who themselves are elected directly by citizens.
A monument to the late Pope John Paul II has been unveiled in the Vilnius district of Kalvelia. The two-meter high bronze sculpture portrays the pontiff with his hands raised for blessing. The monument was constructed in Krakow in a project funded by Kalveliai residents, the Lietuvos Zinios daily reported. The Kalvelia district is heavily populated by ethnic Poles, who are particularly proud of the Pope's Polish origin.
For the first time in centuries a Viking-style military ship is plying the waters of the Kaunas Sea. On the initiative of a group of history enthusiasts, the 12-meter Drakas was built in Kaunas according to genuine early-Middle-Age (9th to 11th century) specifications, but using modern measures, computers and special programs. The ship can reach a maximum speed of 12 knots (26 kilometers per hour) with its sail, and can carry 20 people. Construction took nine months and cost nearly 100,000 litas (29,000 euros). The Drakas will spend its first summer in Kaunas and next year will sail via the Nemunas River to the Curonian Lagoon.
In the latest sign of the scale of emigration to the United Kingdom, a Lithuanian-language weekly, Infozona, is now available at Tesco, the country's largest supermarket chain. The U.K.-based newspaper said theirs was the first product specifically aimed at Lithuanian emigrants to appear on the shelves of Tesco shops. It will initially be sold at 20 of the chain's shops in East London, which is home to the nation's largest Lithuanian community, and later will be made available at Tesco shops in other parts of London and in other cities. Infozona is already available at several Asda shops and on newsstands at railway and underground stations in East London. Immigrants from Poland and Lithuania have been the largest groups to settle in the U.K. in recent years.