President borrows limo to get to work

  • 2001-08-02
  • BNS
VILNIUS - The arrival and departure of Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus to the presidency - a sight Vilnius residents have become accustomed to during his tenure - will continue to happen like clockwork. But the president will now be shuttled in a new limo.

Starting July 27, the Lithuanian president's office is making use of a limousine borrowed from Lithuania's VIP Security Services to ferry him to and from work.

The limo carries four passengers and is a bit longer than the president's usual vehicle. It also has two TV sets inside, a videocassette player and a built-in telephone.

Lithuania's VIP Security Services acquired the BMW 7 Series automobile and another smaller BMW make one month ago. The first passenger to test the new car's interior capacity was reportedly Swiss Confederation President Moritz Leuenberger a little over a week ago. Later, French President Jacque Chirac rode in the car last week when he was in Vilnius.

VIP Security Services Director Raimundas Kairys said that both new vehicles are allocated for visiting foreign guests. It isn't known how long the Lithuanian president will be given the car on loan, or whether he'll have to give it back to the VIP Security Services if a foreign guest arrives.

Chief of the Lithuanian president's chancellery Andrius Meskauskas told BNS the limo was given on loan to the president because the president's office cannot afford to buy a new vehicle.

Until now Adamkus has been chauffeured about in a 1993 model Audi Lang V8 inherited from the earlier administration of Algirdas Brazauskas.

The Audi has already clocked up 250,000 kilometers and needs frequent repairs. The car was also damaged in a road accident in 1998, when it ran into a first aid emergency vehicle. The president was reportedly not in the vehicle at the time. Meskauskas revealed that the president's office spent about $42,500 on fixing the car after the accident.

The Audi V8 is currently a reserve vehicle in the presidential motor pool.

Kairys reported that the new BMW limos were originally purchased at a large discount for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held in Vilnius in May.

The car the president is currently riding in cost somewhere in the region of $75,000.

Usually the motor vehicles in which heads of state move around are armored, have bullet-proof glass and other security measures.

Baltic News Service learned the president's new ride is not armored and has a "thicker than usual" windshield. The glass is slightly darkened.