Lietuva in brief - 2009-01-21

  • 2009-01-21
Wages of members of Parliament, the president and judges could all be cut by the same percentage, said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, in the latest attempt to cut government spending. A draft bill seeking a 15 percent wage cut for all ministers and MPs has recently come up for consideration in the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament). They said the law would be applied until the end of the year, saving about 2.2 million litas (638,000 euros). The document's consideration was postponed after the parliamentary speaker proposed MPs take 50 percent wage cuts.

Lithuania's Civic Empowerment Index (CEI) has remained unchanged and low pitched over the last few years, said experts from the Civil Society Institute of Lithuania Mindaugas Degutis, Aine Ramonaite and Ruta Ziliukaite, who presented Lithuania's CEI results for 2008. This index in 2008 was at 33.2 points out of 100 possible, in comparison to 32.7 in 2007. "Without the empowerment to undertake civic activity people go out to protest on the streets. For example, some 34 percent of the polled hadn't partaken in any civic activity. This reveals lack of motivation for such activity among the people," Degutis said. Moreover, people see participation in civic activity as risky. Some 66 percent of respondents said they feared losing their jobs in connection with potential civic activity, which is 5 percent higher than this figure in 2007. Another 59 percent said they didn't engage in civic activity so as not to seem eccentric, again a larger percentage than the 53 percent in 2007. The CEI reveals citizen capacity for working together for their common welfare.

A Jewish community building in Klaipeda has been defaced with an anti-semitic slogan and a swastika. The building was marked with lettering "Palestine. Death to Jews," with a swastika drawn alongside it. "This is not the first such incident, so where are we going with this? How much longer will we allow provocateurs to pit the Lithuanian and Jewish people against one another without punishment and destroy the foundations of trust and tolerance? Let us not be indifferent. Public condemnation and a unanimous battle for values common to human nature would be the greatest punishment to ringleaders of strife," Executive Director of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Simonas Gurevicius said. Such ocurrences go a long way in tainting Lithuania's image in the world, Gurevicius added.

Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas is outraged over the vandalism committed in a cemetery of Mazeikiai. Vandals damaged 40 tombs in the cemetery, which is for Russians and Latvians. Usackas is hoping the vandals will be punished and the graves reset, the Foreign Ministry said.

Law enforcers seized the account books from the Vilnius European Capital of Culture (VECC) public organization in connection with an investigation into their activities. The seizure was made by officers of the Economic Crimes Investigation Department under the Vilnius District Police Headquarters. VECC representatives are confident this will put an end to speculation over the organization.