Lietuva in brief - 2007-10-31

  • 2007-10-31
Lithuania's ambassador to Great Britain Vygaudas Usackas called upon the British opposition leader David Cameron to explain himself after he publicly derided disabled and gay Lithuanians. Cameron told representatives of the British Art Council "I hope you won't be giving grants to too many one-legged Lithuanian lesbians," according to The Mail Oct. 29. Usackas said more than 100,000 Lithuanians work and study in Great Britain and such irony did little to strengthening relations between the two countries. Cameron later said he had been misquoted 's he insisted he had not used the word "lesbian," and that his reference to Lithuanians had not intended to be an insult. He said he had been trying to make a point about the obscure recipients of some Arts Council grants.

After three months on the job, Labor Party leader Kestutis Dauksys decided to withdraw from his post on Oct. 29. His resignation occurred one week after the former Labor Party leader Viktor Uspaskich lost a by-election in Alytus to Conservative Party leader Kestutis Cilinskas. Dauksys became the chairman of the Labor Party last August. The Labor Party won 39 seats in Parliament in 2004 making it the largest single party in the Seimas. Dauksys' move comes as the Labor Party prepares for the 2008 parliamentary elections.

A farewell ceremony for 140 Lithuanian soldiers leaving for Afghanistan took place at Freedom Square in Panevezys on Oct. 29. The sixth shift of the Ghor Province Restoration Team (PRT) will join with troops from Denmark, Croatia, the United States and Ukraine, as well as civilians from Lithuania and Iceland, in their international peacekeeping mission. Over 130 troops serve in the PRT mission in Ghor. The Lithuanian-led PRT mission was launched in 2005 to assist the Ghor province's reconstruction and security protection.

Rabbis from the United States and Israel visiting Kaunas were surprised to see old Jewish cemeteries vandalized. Some of the monuments were broken and damaged, with garbage, empty alcohol bottles and syringes laying around, according to the Lietuvos Rytas newspaper. The rabbis visiting from abroad said they would inform the global Jewish community about the damaged cemeteries. They also plan to seek transfer of the cemeteries to the Kaunas Jewish Religious Community and organize a money collection to restore them.