Week in Lithuania. Liberal Movement to turn to court over VSD statements

The board of Lithuania’s Liberal Movement has decided to turn to court over information published by the State Security Department (VSD), allegedly damaging the party’s reputation.

«We have decided that we, as a party, have to turn to court over damage to our reputation and demand refutation of claims made in the SSD report,» the party’s leader Eugenijus Gentvilas said on Friday, May 18.

In his words, the lawsuit will demand refutation of the claims that the party was founded by MG Baltic, that the party was in reality controlled by MG Baltic, and also that the election of our chairman, Petras Auštrevičius, in 2006 was also fully controlled. In its report to the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence, the State Security Department states that the Liberal Movement, founded in 2006, was a long-term political project of MG Baltic, fully controlled by the business group’s executives and aimed at eliminating MG Baltic’s competitors in the construction business in Vilnius.

Lithuania rejects Gorsky’s asylum plea

Lithuania’s Migration Department this week rejected a political asylum application submitted by nationalist Yuri Gorsky who fled Russia last year. He plans to appeal. Evelina Gudzinskaitė, director of the Migration Department, says Gorsky has also been put on the list of people declared persona non grata due to threats to national security. The decision was made upon receipt of information from the State Security Department, she said.

Fine proposed for wearing St. George’s ribbons

A fine of up to 300 euros is proposed for wearing Russian St. George’s ribbons with black and orange stripes in Lithuania. The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, May 17, gave its initial backing to the amendments of the Code of Administrative Offences, with 41 votes in favour, ten against and 25 abstentions. The amendment had been proposed by a group of members of the opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Uspaskich to run for Vilnius mayor

Viktor Uspaskich, the founder and chairman of Lithuania’s Labour Party, says he plans to run for Vilnius mayor. The Labour Party’s council has nominated him for the capital’s mayor. Uspaskich founded the Labour Party in 2003. It failed to cross the 5 percent threshold to get into parliament in 2016.

Kaunas hosts European Capital of Culture Forum

A two-day European Capital of Culture Forum was held in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas is through Friday and Saturday, May 18-19, with over 400 guests and more than 30 speakers expected. The forum’s speakers talked and examined the effect culture has on a city’s social and economic prosperity. Major attention was given to projects involving local communities. Representatives of Liverpool, Stavanger, Wroclaw, Essen, Valetta, Plovdiv and other former European Capitals of Culture attended the forum. will be the European Capital of Culture in 2022. Vilnius was awarded the title in 2009.

Teachers stage warning strike

Teachers from around 50 schools in Lithuania took part in a two-hour warning strike on Friday, May 18. Representatives of the Lithuanian Education Employees Trade Union, held the strike. Around 1,000 teachers were taking part, including teachers from secondary schools, kindergarten and art schools. All in all, there are around 53,000 teachers in Lithuania. The trade union demands raising pay for educational employees, making children’s groups at kindergartens and schools smaller and also postponing changes in the pay system for teachers.

Proposal to increase minimum wage

A proposal to increase the minimum wage by 20 euros to 420 euros next year has reached Lithuania’s Tripartite Council which is set to make the decision later. The proposal was on Tuesday, May 15, submitted by Gediminas Šimkus, head of the Bank of Lithuania’s Economics and Financial Stability Service. Artūras Černiauskas, chairman of the Council, representing employees, said that discussions on the matter had been postponed until the next meeting. The Tripartite Council decided last year that the minimum monthly wage should stand at 45-50 percent of the average salary, and the specific ratio should be equal to the average ratio of four EU member states with the largest ratios, but should not exceed the 45-50 limit.

Lithuania to set quotas for unskilled labour

Amid a rapid increase in immigration from Ukraine, the Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday, May 16, to introduce quotas on foreign workers in certain professions. This issue is now particularly relevant because of the growing number of Ukrainian drivers and builders. Around 34,500 foreigners, including some 20,000 Ukrainian citizens, were last year issued with working visas or work-based residence permits, the Migration Department told BNS. The quotas will not apply to highly qualified professionals.

Farmers offered 80 pc of EU average payments in 2027

Under the European Commission’s proposal, direct payments to Lithuanian farmers would reach only 80 percent of the EU’s average level within the next decade. Government officials warned during a discussion in Brussels on the EU’s new budget that this would mean a lost generation of farmers for Lithuania. Payments to Lithuanian farmers last year accounted for 60 percent of the EU average.

Journalist testifies to Seimas committee

Journalist Tomas Dapkus says he named Lithuanian State Security Department (VSD) officials, who he claims are taking revenge on him by reporting defamatory information, during his testimony before the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (NSGK) on Wednesday, May 16. The journalist has recently found himself in the spotlight after the release of certain declassified information provided by the intelligence agency to the committee as part of its investigation into businesses’’ influence on political processes.

LVŽS leader: president redirecting attention

President Dalia Grybauskaitė is trying to direct attention from the political corruption case by casting a shadow with its statements calling on members of the ruling parties, active in the business area, to «very seriously consider» whether to stay in the parliament, Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, says. The Lithuanian president said earlier some lawmakers are doing business, with some of them doing it secretly.

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