Lietuva in brief - 2008-06-18

  • 2008-06-18
The Seimas reached a final agreement on the Law on Equal Rights, which covers discrimination. However, the law will not be enforced in educational institutions that have constitutive documents proving their appeal to religious values. The Seimas approved a modified amendment proposed by conservative Vilija Aleknaite-Abramikiene that says the equality principle will not be applicable in educational institutions if the schools declare their students are being taught values of a particular religion. The law had previously ignored discrimination for sexual orientation, age, disability and pertinence to an ethnic or religious group.

A Vilnius court imposed fines on three participants of a skinhead rally that took place in the center of the Lithuanian capital on Restoration of Independence Day - March 11. Three youths were slapped with fines. Two youths aged 18 and 20 received 1300 litas fines (377 euros) and a 20 year old was fined 2,990 litas (867 euros). Lithuanian laws stipulate a fine, arrest or up to two years in jail for such behavior. Participants of the skinhead rally carried Lithuanian and Latvian flags, as well as flags with swastikas and skulls, chanted nationalist and anti-Semitic slogans.

French European Affairs Minister Jean Pierre Jouyet expressed deep concern about the energy dependence Lithuania will have on Russia following the closing of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The Ignalina plant will be closed down by the end of 2009 in accordance with European regulations, but there will be no other source of energy for Lithunaia. He is urging a reassessment of the options available in order to secure Lithuania in the near future.

The Hermitage-Guggenheim museum in Vilnius should be finished by 2013 after the Government Strategic Planning Committee approved the construction of the facility. Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said the museum is important to forming Lithuania's image and would attract tourists. Initial estimates predict a cost of 260 million litas (75 million euros). Kirkilas admitted that the state could cover no more than 10 to 15 percent of the funds needed to build the multifunctional center. Private sponsors, the Vilnius Municipal Government and support from EU funds are expected to cover the deficit. A detailed financing plan for the museum will be prepared by September by a special taskforce.