The council of the Social Democratic Party voted on Jan. 15 to remove the chairman of the party's Vilnius division, Algirdas Paleckis, from the party's ranks. Paleckis, Deputy Mayor of Vilnius, was kicked out of the party for controversial statements, "behavioral problems" and failure to comply with party's statute and general norms, MP Rimantas Vaitkus said. Paleckis was recently criticized for threatening the Lietuvos Rytas daily with nationalization, remarks that professional art should be funded by the elite and not the state, and extensive criticism of the decisions of party leaders.
Konstantin Goloskokov and Anton Dugin, the two members of the Russian nationalist youth movement Nashi who were caught trying to cross illegally into Lithuania from Belarus on Dec. 31, were sentenced to 35 days in jail and confiscation of their belongings, BNS reported on Jan. 14. The activists claimed they were freelance reporters preparing a story on the guarding of Lithuania's border. In response to the detention of Goloskokov and Dugin, some 700 Nashi activists protested at European Commission's offices in central Moscow on Jan. 9. The police detained around 50 participants of the unsanctioned protest, including Nashi's the new leader Nikita Borovikov, a Russian news portal reported.
At an extraordinary plenary session on Jan. 11, Parliament did not adopt proposals to alter a new alcohol advertising law as they were widely expected to do. The law, as it is being implemented, has prevented the TV broadcast of basketball games, where the trademarks of beer producers are visible. The MPs decided that the draft amendments to the law were in need of further improvements. A spokesman for the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority, which implements the law, told The Baltic Times that they will continue recording violations of the law, but will not apply the fines until the end of their investigations.
Famous pilot and former MP Vytautas Lapenas died in a helicopter crash in an airfield in central Lithuania on Jan. 14. Lapenas, who has been called a legend of Lithuania's acrobatic flying, had survived a terrible crash several decades ago and has continued to be an active sportsman since, coaching acrobatic teams in Lithuania, Spain and Kazakhstan. Lapenas was elected to Parliament in 2000 but left his position in 2003.
President Valdas Adamkus signed a decree on Jan. 11 appointing Vizgirdas Tely-cenas as the new Police Chief General. The post had been vacant since former chief Vytautas Grigaravicius resigned, assuming moral responsibility for the accident last November in which an allegedly drunk police officer hit and killed three children. The first order Telycenas issued upon taking the office was to allow Grigaravicius to wear his ceremonial uniform during professional and state celebrations, Vakaro Zinios reported on Jan. 15. That right was taken away by the presidential decree on dismissal, reportedly causing emotional distress to the former police chief.