Lietuva in brief - 2007-07-25

  • 2007-07-25
As British and Russian relations worsen after two Russian military bombers glided over the North and Barents Seas, the Lithuania Foreign Ministry has expressed diplomatic support for Great Britain. The airspace incident comes on the heels of British authorities' request for the extradition of a murder suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko case. Russia refuses to respond. Lithuania has made similar requests in the past to extradite Russian citizens suspected of crimes related to the massacres in Lithuania in 1991. In a televised interview for broadcast Savaite, President Adamkus has said his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been cold since 2005 when he declined an invitation to a ceremony in Moscow to mourn the loss of fascism in World War II.

An increasing number of patients treated for drug intoxication have been found to be using cocaine as a mixing ingredient with other substances or alcohol. In 2006, there were 287 drug-related cases confirmed, according to the State Patient Fund. The most likely age group to experiment with synthetic drugs, hallucinogens and hemp is 15-to-29 year-olds, according to a study by the Drug Control Department. Comparing data from the Drug Control Department, the number of cocaine cases has climbed from six to 40 in the last three years.

A majority of Lithuanians believe that pagans, atheists and free-thinkers should not have the same rights as  traditional Christians to publicly announce their views, according to a poll conducted by the Vilmorus company last month. The survey researched societal attitudes and beliefs toward new religious movements. In what was the most negative response, 90 percent of the 1,001 respondents polled said they opposed free speech rights for Satanists. According to 2001 census data, 79 percent of Lithuanian residents consider themselves Roman Catholics, 5 percent Orthodox, and 1 percent  Protestants. Nine religious communities are recognized as traditional in Lithuania: Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Evangelists Lutherans, Evangelists Reformats, Orthodox, old believers, Jews, Sunni Muslims and Karaites.

An appeals court has rejected a U.S. extradition request for a 24-year-old resident of Kaunas accused of using stolen credit card numbers to defraud online retailers. Lithuanian law does not allow extradition to the U.S., the court ruled Tuesday. Paulius Kalpokas has been in a Lithuanian jail since 2006 when he was arrested by Lithuanian and U.S. law enforcement officers after an four-year investigation found he used stolen credit card numbers to buy online merchandise. Convicted cyber-criminals can face up to six years in prison under Lithuanian law.

The city of Panevezys will play host to the Baltic Fireman Championships, which begin on July 26. The two-day event, which started in 1961, involves such competitions as a relay race and climbing a hook ladder to the top of a four-story training tower. In addition to the usual Estonian and Latvian guest participants, Polish, Belarusian and Russian teams will also take part.