Lietuva in brief - 2008-01-23

  • 2008-01-23
The Dutch ship Heron has spilled an undetermined amount of diesel fuel at Klaipeda Port. The ship's captain claims that 300 liters of diesel fuel were spilled on Jan. 21 while the fuel was being poured from tank to tank. Klaipeda Port supervisor and rescue service director Arvydas Narmontas says the spill might be bigger, the Vakaru Ekspresas daily reports. Although containment of the spill was successful and Narmontas claims that the situation was "ideally sympathetic," the Seaport administration's cleanup expenses reached at least 80 thousand Litas (23 thousand euros).

A member of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Jean Huss, has written a letter to the Committee of Ministers reporting the violation sexual minorities' rights in Lithuania. The letter called for more constructive dialogue with Lithuanian authorities, BNS reported on Jan. 17.  Huss cited Vilnius authorities' refusal to allow entrance to a truck that was  touring member states as part of the EU-backed "Year of Equal Opportunities for All" campaign last May. Lithuanian Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson Ausrine Burneikiene noted that Huss' initiative shows Lithuania cannot restrict itself from human rights protection developments. 

Russia's Kaliningrad regional court on Jan. 17 sentenced Lieutenant Colonel Vasily Khitryuk to 7.5 years in prison for spying for Lithuania. The man, a former employee of the Kaliningrad penitentiary inspectorate, was found guilty of state treason after an almost 18-month court battle. Khitryuk said he will not appeal the decision. Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has given assurances that Lithuania does not have spies in Russia. Other top-ranking Lithuanian officials claim the conviction could be a response to the Russian Embassy First Secretary Oleg Ryabchikov's expulsion from Lithuania on similar charges in October 2006.

A cleaning woman found herself in a peculiar situation after she arrived for work in in a Maxima supermarket 's in the wrong country. The Lithuanian-speaking woman, 33, flagged down a truck to hitch a ride to her job in Kaunas on Jan 15. Her request was evidently lost in translation by the Russian-speaking driver, who took the sleeping woman to the southern Estonian city of Tartu, AFP reported. Although the journey was some 500 km and involved crossing of two borders, the Baltic states' recent Schengen accession meant that there were no border checks to wake up the dozing passenger. A Tartu police spokeswoman said that when the woman woke up in front of the Maxima in Estonia, she thought she was in the right place.

Those worried about demonic possession can rest somewhat easier now that Lithuanian exorcists have formed an association to unite priests practicing exorcism in the country. The Lithuanian Bishops' Confederation has approved the association, which also aims to promote cooperation with exorcist organizations abroad, the Lietuvos Zinios daily reported on Jan. 19.  Currently, there are six exorcists working in Lithuania. Father Kestutis Daknevicius, one of the initiators of the association, said a few people approach him each week seeking help in matters related to possession.