A beach too far?

A temporary beach in a Vilnius square, complete with hipster fairy lights and quirky signs, has become  the latest battleground   for the country’s historical memory.

The issue? It stands on what many politicians describe as hollowed ground for Lithuania’s independence struggles – against Tsarist Russia, Soviet Russia, and Nazi Germany.

Vilnius mayor says the beach enables people to celebrate and experience freedom. Critics, meanwhile, say it degrades and makes mockery of those who fought and died for the country’s independence, including in a building that flanks the square.  PRESIDENTIAL SHIP?  Three senior advisers to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda have resigned, including the former chief of the country’s armed forces, Vytautas Žukas. The  details are sparse for now.

Meanwhile, Nausėda has also  shunned a meeting with his Estonian and Latvian counterparts over a failure to agree a joint Baltic boycott of Belarusian nuclear energy imports.   PUTIN’S JOURNALISTIC ACTIVITIES  In a bombshell story at the end of last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin  said the Baltic states were occupied with consent, and has defended Soviet pact with Nazi Germany.

Nonsense, said Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and well, mostly everyone. Warsaw and Vilnius  slammed Putin’s “journalistic activities”, while parliamentary committees from the four countries called on Russia to refrain from “historical revisionism” and called on Moscow to build better relations with its neighbours.

Historical memory has also been brought up again in the UK and Belgium with the toppling of several controversial statues. Has Eastern Europe anything to teach about “cancelled heroes”? Deutsche Welle, partners of LRT English,  investigate  . DIVIDING ALLIES?  Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis  said the planned US troop drawdown from Germany risks dividing NATO allies. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda – who also  spoke on behalf of Lithuania in Washington – said some of the troops would be diverted to Poland.  SHORT HAUL  A Lithuanian company  has plans   to launch a 300-kilometre flight connecting Vilnius with the Palanga resort. Connections between Lithuania and Georgia and Ukraine may also  resume in the near future.  CORONA EURO SIGNS  The corona-fighting figures are starting to come in. Lithuania has  spent 84.4 million on various measures, with most of the money going into Chinese supplies.  WINDOWS SHOPPING  The quarantine has also  changed Lithuania’s shopping habits, as a fifth of the country’s residents turned to online e-commerce to fill the pandemic gaps. However, 40 percent of Lithuanians still prefer to conduct business face to face.  A JOB WELL DONE?  In other corona figures, most of Lithuanian people  think that the government has done a good job during the pandemic. While across the border in Latvia, a giant statue has been  unveiled to honour the medics who have been fighting the virus.   TAKING A PEEK OVER THE BORDER  People gathered in Vilnius on Friday to  protest against the crackdown in Belarus. Offering an insight into the situation across the border, Dzmitry Mitskevich  profiles reports on repressions against independent voices.  FEATURES  – The pandemic has revealed an endemic exploitation of workers.  Exclusive for LRT English.

– Can Lithuania counter its school bullying problem by following the Danish example? From our partners in Brussels,  EUobserver  .

– Get off my poppies,  cries a Lithuanian landowner, as people flock to take breathtaking images.

– You can explore Lithuania elsewhere,  added the country’s tourism promotion agency.  #VOICES  At LRT English, we aim to feature as many voices from the Lithuanian diaspora and expats in the country as possible. In this week’s newsletter, we share a contribution from Steve Flook, who has some advice on securing a residency permit in Lithuania.

“My pink card! My very own pink card! Such was my childish response after finally receiving the proof of my permission to stay in Lithuania. Admittedly, it had been a struggle. My advice to anyone going through the same process is to keep calm and be patient. Remember that the staff are not being deliberately obstructive but are bound by complex rules of procedure. […] The key factor is proving that you have sufficient funds to support you and your family in Lithuania. Bank statements less than a month old are helpful, but be aware that the final balance on a statement will govern how many months you are allowed to stay. Any regular payments such as pensions, which are key to getting the full five-year ‘leave to remain’, will need to be authenticated by a document from the pension provider, translated into Lithuanian, with an official stamp from the translation bureau. Pleas such as mine that the recent quarantine forced me to get a translation by email will fall on deaf ears, I’m afraid. […] My time spent in getting my treasured pink card opened my eyes to the plight of immigrants the world over. What you want more than anything else is to be allowed to stay in your country of choice and I suppose that the proof of your determination is your willingness to jump through bureaucracy’s hoops.”


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