Lithuania in brief

  • 2004-01-08
A recent poll found that two-thirds of Lithuanians approve of wire-tapping conversations and monitoring correspondence for operative purposes, though they acknowledge that law enforcement officials sometimes abuse this right. In the survey, conducted by the Spinter pollster in December, 69.9 percent of respondents justified communication surveillance, but asked whether such measures should be used against the president only 55.9 percent gave a positive reply. Those that said it should be done anytime it is needed made up 3.4 percent of the participants in the poll.

The 544 attempts to smuggle goods across the country's borders during 2003 marked an increase of 24.5 percent in comparison with the previous year, according to the state border guard service. Though authorities cited a record number of attempts to smuggle cigarettes through the Baltic state, especially on the border with Kaliningrad, they said that the number of attempts to bring alcohol into the country dropped last year.
A surge in the amount of cargo traffic headed for Western Europe via the Kalvarija-Budzisko checkpoint on the Lithuanian-Polish border during the holiday season resulted in long lines at the border station. According to the state border guard service, truck drivers on the morning of Jan. 3 had to wait approximately 15 hours to enter the checking area, after which an additional four to five hours would then have to be spent at the terminal.

Though the number of newborns increased over the first 11 months of 2003, the country's population shrank by 13,000. According to the state statistics department, 3.45 million people were living in Lithuania at the beginning of November 2003. And although 25,941 babies were born over the first 10 months of the year, an increase of 444 newborns year-on-year, the number of deaths grew by 325 in the same period.

Though he is at the center of an impeachment process, Presi-dent Rolandas Paksas found himself named Man of the Year in 2003, according to a national poll conducted by a joint Lithuanian-British market and public opinion research company. The Lietuvos Rytas daily, which announced the results on Dec. 31, stated that 20.2 percent of respondents named Paksas as Man of the Year while 15.2 percent of those polled awarded former President Valdas Adamkus with the title. Adamkus was picked Man of the Year in 2002.

Doctors in Klaipeda continued their efforts to save the life of a woman seriously injured by a firecracker in the first few minutes of 2004. Egidijus Guogis, head of the local hospital's intensive care unit, said that the 54-year-old patient remained in very serious condition, with vital functions supported by medical equipment. Several minutes after midnight on Jan. 1 a firecracker launched by an unidentified person near the Meridianas ship - the symbol of Klaipeda - burned into the woman's chest and exploded, causing injury to her heart and lung, breaking several ribs and tearing her left arm.