Lietuva in brief - 2008-04-23

  • 2008-04-23
Skinheads have attacked and injured a South African singer named Bernin in the center of Vilnius. The singer has lived in Lithuania since winning public acclaim on the "Star Path" reality show, and is now married to a Lithuanian man. At a press-conference April 14, Bernin said that the attackers were dressed in black and sported Lithuanian flag and swastika heraldics on their vests. The singer received treatment at a local clinic. According to the LNK TV channel, Bernin intends to stop her concerts in Lithuania and will cancel her TV contracts and other musical projects. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas ordered the Department of State Security and General Police Commissioner to take measures and come up with proposals to prevent racist outrages in the future.

A recent report from the Department of Statistics has found that in the fall of 2007, 28 colleges and 22 universities of Lithuania had 204,400 students on their register. This is more than ever before in the history of the country. The report found that 42 percent of young Lithuanians aged 20-24 pursue professional degrees. At the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year, Lithuanian universities had nearly 4,000 Ph.D. students, with 355 doctoral students studying at the country's research centers. Almost half of the students in Lithuania take evening classes or study by correspondence, while 36 percent of them work either part or full time. About three thousand foreigners are pursuing degrees in Lithuania, most of them from Poland, Belarus, Turkey, Israel, Germany and Lebanon. At the same time, 2,900 Lithuanians study abroad, many of them in Germany (16 percent), Denmark (9 percent), Finland (8 percent), and France (7 percent).

On April 14 the anti-corruption squad of the criminal police bureau arrested two policemen in Vilnius. According to internal police regulations, Lithuanian patrolmen are not supposed to have more than 122 litas (35 euros) in cash while on duty. Lietuvos Zinios reported that the arrested policemen had a lot more than that in their pockets when they were apprehended. One of them had over a thousand litas, and the other had several hundred. The patrolmen were arrested while taking a bribe. They spent about one hour on duty before the anti-corruption squad sting operation was launched. Supposedly, all the cash they had at the moment of their arrest were bribery proceeds.

The Cabinet reversed a July 2007 decision to spend 200 million litas from the privatization fund to finance construction of the National stadium in Vilnius. Instead, the money will be spent to increase teachers' salaries. A typical teacher's salary in Lithuania is about 1,600 litas per month, before taxes. The prime minister's press secretary, Nemira Pumpritskaite, has announced that this re-allocation of funds does not mean that the government will not be able to find means of financing the construction of stadium. Other sources of financing will be considered for the stadium.

Lithuanian radio reported that the top 10 taxpayers list has remained the same for several years. In 2007, the top 10 companies paid 3,066 billion litas in taxes. This is 1.4 percent increase over 2006. Mazeikiai Nafta topped the list with a 803 million lita tax bill, while Philip Morris Baltic had to pay 326 million litas. These companies are followed by Lietuva Statoil and Lukoil Baltija. The list continues with Stumbras, Maxima, Lietuvos dujos, Mineraliniai vandenys, Senuku prekybos centras, and Utenos alus.