Lietuva in brief - 2007-09-12

  • 2007-09-12
An SAS flight from Copenhagen crash landed at Vilnius Airport in the early hours of Sept. 12. None of the 48 passengers or four crew on board were injured. The SAS Dash 8-400 was on its way to Palanga when pilots, noticing a landing gear malfunction, decided to make for Vilnius Airport because of its wider runways. Due to the gear failure, the plane slid 27 meters off the runway. "It was landing in extreme conditions for the pilots, they did their job perfectly. When landing they switched off the engines one after another and even though there were sparks when sliding, fire was avoided,"  Transport Ministry Chief Inves-0tigator of Aircraft Accidents and Incidents  Kestutis Povilonis told BNS. An airport commission is investigating. This is the second incident involving the same type of plane within the week. On Sept. 9, an SAS Dash 8-400 crash-landed at Aalborg airport in Denmark when the landing gear collapsed. None of 73 passengers on board were seriously injured

Lithuanian basketball fans were beaten during a tussle with police at the start of their team's match against France in Madrid on Sept. 10. The incident reportedly started when security guards prevented  Lithuanian fans from bringing a flag with a long handle into the arena. When the guards tried to solve the problem by cutting the flag, the Lithuanians put up a fight, and police reinforcements were called in. Several fans, including women, were beaten with rubber truncheons. One Lithuanian man was arrested for inciting the conflict. He is also accused of resisting arrest and faces a sentence of two to three years in prison or a substantial fine. The Lithuanian team hasn't lost a single game in the ongoing European championship.

A transsexual man from Klaipeda won a case against Lithuania on Sept. 11 in the European Court of Human Rights over his having been prevented from completing his gender transition. The man, born a woman, has undergone gender altering surgery since 1998, but was blocked from receiving further treatment by Lithuanian law. The man also complained that despite having had numerous treatments, including hormonal treatment and breast removal surgery, he was still considered a woman in official documents. The court ruled that Lithuania must change its legislation within three months or be forced to pay the man as much as 40,000 euros in damages.

In its latest democracy index, the British-based Economist magazine's research unit ranked Lithuania 39th out of 167 states, which puts it into the category of "flawed democracy." Latvia and Estonia came in at at 43rd and 33rd, respectively. The research cited the biggest flaws in the Baltic country as  "lack of political culture and involvement of the society to the political process." Of all the Eastern European states analyzed, only the Czech Republic and Slovenia fell into the "full democracy" category. The highest democracy ratings were found in the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries.