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DAVID VS GOLIATH

  • 2008-12-10

The big boys that own Lithuania have made it clear that they will not tolerate the common man meddling in their affairs.
VP group owns just about everything in Lithuania. It's anchor company is Maxima 's now one of the two largest Baltic supermarket chains and one of Lithuania's largest businesses 's but quickly expanded to get their fingers into just about every industry that the country has to offer. They even have a significant stake in the high-profile new energy company, Leo LT, which has been tasked with overseeing the new nuclear power plant project at Ignalina.

Back in 2005, one of the giant's subsidiaries bought out the Lietuva cinema, a cultural icon located in the middle of Vilnius' UNESCO protected Old Town, from the municipal government. They got an extremely sweet deal on the property from then Mayor Arturas Zuokas 's a politician who already has one corruption conviction under his belt that was serious enough to deny him a seat in the new Cabinet.
The company agreed to keep the cinema open for a few years following the purchase, and then go through with plans to bulldoze the historic theater and building a large apartment complex on the land. The general populace is not happy about the move.

Lietuva cinema was an important icon during the Soviet occupation and through the independence movement. Many were willing to take to the streets to defend the theater and protest the government's sale of the land.
The company was not about to stand for having their carefully laid plans disrupted by a few well-meaning peons. They filed a lawsuit suing the protesters for causing costly delays to their plans.
This could not be a more clear-cut case of big business throwing its weight around and stomping on the little guy. A subsidiary of one of what is probably the most powerful business conglomerate in the country is trying to show that the consequences of meddling in its affairs are dire.
Big business has been given free reign to make backroom deals and bully anyone who opposes them for far too long.

One can only hope that the courts are able to recognize this case for what it is, follow international conventions and ensure that big business is not able to squash the people's right to question backroom deals made with corrupt politicians. The country's national heritage is at stake.