• 2002-10-10
Adamkus in Germany

President Valdas Adamkus set out on a five-day visit to Germany Oct. 8 to shore up support for the country's bids to join the European Union and NATO.

Adamkus was slated to meet with his German counterpart Johannes Rau, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and parliamentary leaders and take part in the opening of the Frankfurt book fair, where Lithuanian poet Sigitas Geda was scheduled to speak.

Lithuania has spent 1.7 million euros on showcasing 30 writers through themes including women's literature, masters of poetry and young authors.

During his stay, Adamkus is also to open Lithuania's new embassy in Berlin. (Agence France-Presse)

Latvia's Way split?

Politicians and analysts are predicting a split in outgoing ruling party Latvia's Way after it failed to win seats in Parliament at elections Oct. 5.

Arnis Lapins, spokesman for Prime Minister Andris Berzins, predicted that some lawmakers may jump ship and join similar parties that passed the 5 percent barrier necessary for representation in Parliament.

Social Democrat Union MP Peteris Salkazanovs, whose party also failed to win seats, said talks had already been held with some Latvia's Way members looking for a new home.

People's Party spokesman Arno Pjatkins also said the party would consider taking on some ex-Latvia's Way members.

But Kristiana Libane, the party's parliamentary leader, said rumors of a split were premature and said no decisions had been made. (Baltic News Service)

Lefties in Tallinn

Europe's left-wing parties have expressed interest in holding their annual meeting in Tallinn next summer in order to inform Estonians about leftist policies in Europe.

"The forum includes parties that are situated to the left of the Nordic countries' well-known Social Democrats," said Heiki Sillari, chairman of Estonia's Social Democrat Party.

At present, the forum has 22 members, including Estonian's Social Democrats.

Estonia is widely seen as one of the most successful ex-communist countries thanks to its adherence to strict economic and market reforms and has become a darling of the economic right. (BNS)

Passing the test

The United States is considering giving Lithuania market-economy status, Grant Adlonas, a U.S. trade official said Oct. 7.

Lithuania has undertaken economic reforms in the hope of concluding European Union membership talks this year in order to join the 15-state bloc in 2004. (AFP)

American arrested

A judge in Latvia extended the detention of a U.S. national suspected of sexually abusing at least eight children in the capital, police said.

Police spokesman Krists Leiskalns said the 47-year-old man could be held for up to two months while police continue their inquiries.

"Our suspicions were aroused when he was seen talking to the children. Several were orphans or children begging on the streets," said Leiskalns.

He said the abuse was of a "serious" nature, carrying a potential prison sentence of up to six years.

The unidentified man was originally detained for three days after consultation with the FBI.

The suspect had served a 33-month prison sentence in the Czech capital

Prague from 1997 for offenses relating to child pornography, Leiskalns added. (AFP)

Gentvilas starts races

Presidential hopeful Eugenijus Gentvilas submitted more than 20,000 signatures to the Central Election Commission Oct. 8 ensuring his spot on the presidential ballot when Lithuanians vote Dec. 22.

The Liberal Union candidate was the first to release signatures and be officially included on the ballot.

Lithuanians will have 17 candidates from whom to choose. (BNS)

Historical Riga building CATCHES fire

A building of great historical and culture value in the center of Riga caught fire early in the morning on Oct. 9. The fire was reported to firefighters shortly before 4 a.m. and was contained by 10 a.m. A total of 22 fire engines and 75 firefighters worked on the scene at the building, which is currently being renovated and has a total area of 1,500 square meters.

The likely cause of the fire was welding works being carried out in the evening, though Janis Lasmanis, president of the Kolonna company which owns the building, suspects arson. According to Lasmanis, all safety standards had been followed during the renovation works.

Also, eyewitnesses told Lasmanis that the fire had started at once in two places some 40 meters apart.

Deputy chief of the National Fire and Rescue Service said the attic of the neighboring building had also caught fire, and firefighters were continuing to keep an eye on another nearby house as sparks from the original fire had been leaping everywhere. (BNS)