Lithuania on July 21 elects its fourth prime minister since declaring independence. Aleksandras Abisala is a 36-year-old physics graduate of Vilnius University and took an active role in politics with the grass-roots movement Sajudis in 1988. He replaces Gediminas Vagnorius, who was dismissed July 14 after losing a no-confidence vote. Vagnorius had ongoing conflicts with Lithuania's Central Bank.
The Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation passes two resolutions condemning human rights violations regarding the treatment of ethnic Russians in the Baltics states. Both focus mostly on Estonia. Russia threatened to lobby for sanctions from the UN General Assembly.
U.S. Senator Larry Pressler, a Republican from South Dakota and a staunch supporter of the Baltic countries, visits Latvia. Earlier in the year Pressler and another senator proposed a bill that would tie most U.S. aid to Russia to the removal of Russian troops. "I believe that Russian actions regarding troop removal are a barometer for whether Russia will be democratic or return to its imperial ambitions," he says.
The first Olympians to represent the Baltics countries in 52 years leave for Barcelona on July 16. Yachtswoman Ilona Dzelme and rower Ugis Lasmanis will represent Latvia. Lithuania sends the largest delegation with 49 athletes, including Latvian cyclist Aiga Zagorska from Tukums who had been training in Lithuania for years.
Five years ago
The European Commission recommends that Estonia begin negotiations to join the European Union. Latvia and Lithuania react positively to the decision, which also includes encouragement for those two countries.
Latvia's government is in a state of crisis. Prime Minister Andris Skele is seeking the resignation of Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans, who allegedly violated anti-corruption laws starting a basketball promotion organization and retaining high-ranking positions in two companies during his political tenure. Skele said the coalition he headed was full of mistrust and tension.
For the first time, Microsoft releases a special edition of its MS Office 97 software with Latvian language support.
After the postponement of the legal proceedings against accused Nazi war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis last week, the Simon Wiesenthal Center on July 16 calls on Lithuanian authorities to bring criminal charges against Kazys Gimzauskas, Lileikis' wartime deputy. Both men were stripped of their U.S. citizenship in 1996.
Among the films playing in Baltic theaters are "The Empire Strikes Back", "Anaconda" and "Bodyguard".