Lietuva in brief - 2007-07-11

  • 2007-07-11
Parliament has passed a law requiring car owners to identify which people they have authorized to drive their vehicles. Failure to provide the information when asked by police can result in a fine of 300 to 500 litas (87 -145 euros). The new legislation aims to crack down on the widespread practice of dodging speeding tickets issued from automated speed cameras. About 60 percent of perpetrators currently go unpunished because they claim that someone else was driving their car at the time in question, but refuse to name the driver.

A total of 50 new HIV cases  were diagnosed in over the first six months of this year, BNS reported on July 9. According to information provided by the Lithuanian AIDS Center, 29 of the victims contracted the virus by using intravenous drugs, 13 through heterosexual sex and three through homosexual sex. Of the cases, 35 were men and 15 were women. Most were residents of Vilnius (13) and Klaipeda (11). A total of 1,250 HIV cases have been diagnosed in the country from 1988, when the first HIV case was diagnosed, to July 1 of this year. Of those, 138 became ill with AIDS, 120 of whom have already died.

This fall national television will stop broadcasting news in Russian. The move, which is ostensibly to create equality with other national minorities, was approved by the national television and radio council on July 4. Sarunas Kalinaustas, Director of Lithuanian Television, justified the decision telling journalists that when faced with the choice of broadcasting news in the country's other minority languages, Polish and Belarusian, or stop broadcasting it in Russian, the national television's administration decided to do the latter. News in Russian will continue to be broadcast on national radio.

Officials on July 10 arrested a young man, a resident of Vilnius, who was attempting to smuggle 46 kg of marijuana into the country. The haul was discovered on a Lithuania-bound bus at the Kalvarija post near the border with Poland, though it is suspected that the drugs were brought from Belgium. The street value of the stash is estimated at around two millions litas (nearly 600,000 euros).

The so-called Memorandum of Seventeen Thousand, a 1971 document made by the Lithuanian Catholics to draw the world's attention to the persecution of priests and the overall lack of religious freedom in the Soviet Union, has been returned to Lithuania from Great Britain. A full 17,000 people signed the petition, one copy of which was sent to then Soviet leader  Leonid Brezhnev, and another to the United Nations. The copy that was sent to the West ended up in the archives of  the Keston Institute in Oxford. It was delivered to one of the initiators of the signature-collection campaign, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, at Kaunas City Hall on July 9.