Latvia naturalized 3,932 citizens in the first half of this year, according to the Naturalization Board.
The board had received a total of 4,976 applications by June 30 this year.
As of that date, 53,327 people have been naturalized since 1995. Just under 67 percent of the total are ethnic Russians. About 10 percent are ethnic Belarusians and 8.3 percent are ethnic Ukrainians. Ther rest are Lithuanians (5.5 percent), Estonian (4.9 percent) and other nationalities (4.3 percent). According to the board, 8.6 percent of naturalized citizens were 15 to 17 years old, 25.8 percent were 18-30, 22 percent were 31-40 and 21 percent were 41-50, 13 percent were 51-60 and 9 percent were over 60. (Baltic News Service)
Austria's slave labor compensation
Austria has begun paying compensation to more than 100 Lithuanians forced to work as slave laborers under the Nazis.
The largest payments - 25,200 litas ($7,200) - will go to people who performed hard labor.
The Austrian Reconciliation Foundation has deemed 71,500 claims from Central and Eastern Europe valid and intends to pay more than $260 million in compensation. The foundation will pay the compensation directly to claimants, according to a spokesman. (BNS)
German police are learning rudimentary Lithuanian to help them deal with a flood of illegal Lithuanian immigrants, Respublika reported.
The paper said every 10th foreigner detained in Germany is Lithuanian. German authorities say Lithuanians have found a niche in the local underworld and are involved in car theft and human trafficking.
An organized group of car thieves was detained in Germany in 2000, with most of the suspects coming from Kaunas. Investigators have proven that the Lithuanians had stolen about 100 cars and caused over 2 million Deutsche marks ($1.01 million) in damages to German insurance companies.
Among Lithuanians detained and sentenced in Germany is former Kaunas Zalgiris basketball star Romanas Brazdauskis, who received a jail sentence of three years and eight months in April for his role in a cigarette smuggling ring. (BNS)
Walk like a man
Lithuanians believe a "normal" man's primary function is to earn money for his family, according to a poll commissioned by the Vilnius-based Men's Crisis and Information Center.
Some 72 percent of respondents said men were, first and foremost, breadwinners. Researchers say men who cannot live up to this traditional role can become aggressive, depressed and suicidal.
"There is a crisis between what a man should be and what he really is," said center researcher Lilija Kublickiene.
Kublickiene said roughly 30 percent of Lithuanian men did not live up to this "normal" role.
The poll also found that a "normal man" has to be skillful and capable of doing "masculine" work around the house, provide for and raise children and take care of his wife. (BNS)
Brazdzionis dies at 96
Bernardas Brazdzionis, one of Lithuania's most famous poets, died July 11 at his home in Los Angeles after a long fight with a serious illness. He was 96.
Brazdzionis' granddaughter Dalyte Lovett said the poet would be buried in his native Kaunas.
Brazdzionis is one of Lithuania's literary giants. He began publishing poems in 1924 and edited various publications in the years leading up to World War II.
He emigrated to Germany in 1944, then moved on to the United States in 1949, where he went on to edit the magazine Lietuviu Dienos (Lithuanian Days).
"He is one of the few Lithuanian poets who carry not only literary status, he has become a historical figure symbolizing Lithuanian literary spirit of resistance during the years of hardship," the Lithuanian Anthology of Literature says. (BNS)
Supreme Court rules
Estonia's Supreme Court declared unconstitutional July 15 a provision of the election law that bans an electoral alliance from running in municipal polls.
The high court ruling cannot be appealed and the Parliament will have to amend election laws.
The court observed that lifting the ban on electoral alliances is probably the only way to secure the holding of local polls in October as scheduled.
Fulfilling the coalition agreement of the Reform and Center parties, the Parliament passed in March amended local elections law that banned electoral alliances from local polls. A similar restriction concerning general elections had been adopted ahead of the 1999 polls. (BNS)