Five percent of Europeans don't know Lithuania is in the EU, according to a Eurobarometer survey taken this May and June. Among the 27,000 residents polled in all member states, 5 percent thought that Lithuania was a current EU candidate, while the figures for Estonia and Latvia were only slightly better at 4 percent. Lithuanians have little right to complain though, since the survey also showed that only 28 percent of the country's residents are interested in what's happening in neighboring EU member states. Only residents of the Czech Republic showed a lower interest, coming in at 27 percent.
The Lithuanian embassy in Belarus and the State Security Department are looking for ways to free a former intelligence officer who has been imprisoned in Minsk for the past month. Belarusian authorities arrested Povilas Strasevicius on July 28 for illegal economic activities, accusing him of bringing cars into Belarus for sale. Observers believe the real reason for his arrest is his past activity at the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk, where he worked as second secretary from 2000 to 2005, and his procurement work at the Ignalina nuclear power plant.
Interior Minister Raimondas Sukys has demanded to know why 300,000 litas (86,886 euros) earmarked for a security improvement project in rural areas wasn't spent on mobile phones and connection service for police inspectors as planned. The program, implemented in 2003-2005, foresaw the addition of mobile services for the 960 inspectors working around the country, as well as new uniforms and computers. The mobile phones were included in the program to make the police more accessible to the public. The minister ordered that the phones be provided by the end of the year.
Kestutis Liupsys, 50 , discovered several crop destroying African locusts while working in his garden in the town of Tirkslia, Lietuvos Rytas reported on Sept. 4. He said he had seen similar locusts while serving with the Soviet army in Kazakhstan and Egypt. His discovery came at the same time Estonian scientists announced that the same rare insects were found on the Estonian coast, entangled in nets designed for catching birds. Scientists say it's rare to see the species survive in northern regions of Europe and believe that the bugs were carried here by air flows.
Lithuania officially connected to the Schengen information system on Sept. 1. Though the country is not yet part of the Schengen zone, officials can now search and enter data into their computer systems at border checkpoints. Experts appointed by the European Council will visit Lithuania Sept. 16 - 19 to evaluate how the recently installed computer system is functioning. Provided the European Council gives approval, Lithuania and 10 other countries will join the Schengen zone on Jan. 1, which will allow people to travel freely between Lithuania and other Schengen states without any customs or document checks. Controls at airports will continue until March.