Lietuva in brief - 2009-03-25

  • 2009-03-25
The Maxima supermarket at the Vilnius mall Akropolis sold goods worth some 1.5 million litas in just six hours during a weekend-long sell-off ending March 22. The number of buyers reached almost 7,000 during the inaugural sell-off night, and the turnover was about double that taken during the day, said Renata Saulyte, Maxima LT spokeswoman. Maxima had offered 40 percent discount on all non-food goods. Maxima LT, the operator of the largest Lithuania's retail chain operates 232 stores.

Lithuania will discontinue its participation in the NATO peacekeeping force mission in Kosovo, with the country's 20th platoon KFOR-20, sent off on March 24, expected to be the last Lithuanian troops deployed to the Balkan republic. The decision to discontinue deploying troops in Kosovo resulted from the improved security situation in the region and Lithuania's tense economic situation, Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene told BNS. Jukneviciene said NATO planned to focus on its increasingly relevant mission in Afghanistan where Lithuanian heads a provincial reconstruction team.

Lithuania has eased the visa issuing procedures for tourists from Russia, with plans to facilitate the routine for other tourists, the Foreign Ministry reported. The ministry, in cooperation with the State Tourism Department, will set up a task force to help fast track procedures of accreditation of travel organizers. Under new guidelines tourists will have to present paid confirmation of a tourist trip, but will no longer be required to produce proof of employment, copies of tickets and proof of hotel bookings.

A vehicle carrying the mayors of Lithuania's southern city and district of Alytus recently came under fire. Alytus police said two local high school students have been detained. The incident occurred when Alytus City Mayor Ceslovas Daugela with his wife and District Mayor Algirdas Vrubliauskas were aboard a municipality Skoda Superb, and were fired upon by what appeared to be a handgun, from another vehicle. No one was injured.

Human traffic volumes from Lithuania are on the rise regardless of preventive efforts. U.K. Detective Chief Superintendent in charge of Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit Richard Martin said most women are brought to London from Thailand and Eastern Europe. Once in the U.K. many are sold as sex slaves or forced into prostitution. British officers have rescued hundreds of Lithuanian victims of human trafficking, in recent years. About 20 percent of Lithuanian victims are underage, Chairman of the Seimas Human Rights Department Arminas Lydeka said. Lithuania is a transit state for traffickers who are smuggling their human cargo from Russia and Belarus to better-off European Union member states, he said. Martin briefed Lithuanian MPs on the disturbing trend at a Human Rights Committee meeting on March 21. According to information available to the Council of Europe, human trafficking is the third most profitable line of activity in terms of organized crime.