Week in Lithuania. Plain cigarette packaging, outdoor café, balcony smoking ban proposed

Lithuania has proposed this week new smoking restrictions. Under new amendments, plain cigarette packaging would be introduced in Lithuania, the display of cigarettes would be banned and smoking in residential balconies, outdoor cafes, beaches and other places would also be prohibited.

Under these amendments, plain cigarette packaging will be introduced in November, 2022 and it will only feature the name of the company and product in a state-approved standard type and colour, and any logo elements or signs will be banned. The amendments to the Law on the Control of Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Related Products have been drafted by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with other institutions.

Baltic PMs met with Netanyahu in Vilnius

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis met with Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, in Vilnius on Friday, August 24. The heads of government discussed the relations between Israel and the European Union, the security situation in the Middle East and the Baltic Sea region, the fight against terrorism, and cooperation in the field of cyber security. After the meeting, Ratas, Skvernelis and Kučinskis headed to Kaunas for an informal meeting. Netanyahu said before the visit he wanted to counter the EU’s «not always friendly» relations with his country by deepening ties with eastern European nations, as he left for a Baltic summit.

Ex-Lithuanian president names biggest threats

The biggest threats Europe and the United State are facing are terrorism, economic uncertainty and migration, former Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said in an international conference on strengthening transatlantic resilience in Vilnius this week. Adamkus called on Europe and the United States to focus on threats posed by Russia and China, as well as challenges to transatlantic unity.

Defendants plead not guilty

The former and incumbent members of the parliament and representatives of political parties, standing trial in a political corruption case in Lithuania, did not plead guilty but they all agreed to testify in court. Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice president of the MG Baltic business group, will testify first on Aug. 27. He is also the first person mentioned in prosecutors’ indictment. He said he did not «understood» the indictment. Eligijus Masiulis, the former leader of the Liberal Movement, said the same. Other defendants in the case, including former Labour Party member Vytautas Gapšys, former MP Sarunas Gustainis and incumbent MP Gintaras Steponavičius also agreed to testify but do not admit their guilt.

Lithuania buys shirt-range missiles from Sweden

Lithuania will spend almost 10 million euros on upgrading the RBS 70 short-range air defence capability the Lithuanian Armed Forces currently have, by purchasing missiles and equipment from Sweden’s Saab. The Ministry of National says the army signed two contracts, worth 9.7 million euros, with Saab on the purchase of improved missiles and BORC night-capability sights, with the delivery starting next year. According to the ministry, with improved missiles the RBS 70 system will be even more effective and dangerous to hostile aircraft, and the advanced BORC night sights will allow soldiers to stay operational during the dark part of the day.

Lithuania to purchase LNG terminal’s ship

Lithuania will purchase the Klaipeda LNG terminal’s floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), named Independence, from Norway’s Hoegh LNG after 2024, the government’s Economic Infrastructure Development Commission decided on Monday, August 20. Long-term borrowing from banks by Klaipėdos Nafta, the LNG terminal’s operator, will help reduce the terminal’s costs for users, particularly the fertilizer manufacturer Achema, the energy producer Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba (LEG) and other large energy producers.

VAT fraud scheme uncovered

Lithuania’s Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) has busted a group of Lithuanian and Latvian nationals who imported 50 tons of refined rapeseed and sunflower oil and sugar into Lithuania from Poland per week without paying the value-added tax (VAT). The international organized group, which was uncovered by investigators from the FNTT Kaunas Regional Board, failed to pay almost 200,000 euros in VAT to the Lithuanian state, the service said. The group consisted of six individuals from Lithuania and Latvia, it said, adding that the number of suspects might increase.

Sabonis named most influential sports figure

Former Lithuanian basketball player Arvydas Sabonis, who previously led the country’s basketball federation, has been named the most influential sports figure in Lithuania, according to a survey by Spinter Tyrimai for the delfi.lt news website, published on Friday. Former discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna, now an MP, came in second in the public poll, followed by swimmer Rūta Meilutytė.

Square named after Nemtsov opened in Vilnius

A square outside the Russian Embassy in Vilnius, named after murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov will be officially opened on Friday, August 24. The official opening ceremony was attended by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, Vladimir Kara-Murza, chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, Boris Vishnevskiy, a Saint Petersburg’s councillor, and Alexey Venediktov, editor-in-chief of the Echo Moskvy radio station. Vilnius became a second city in the world where the memory of Nemtsov was honoured. A strip of Wisconsin Avenue near the Russian Embassy in Washington was named after the late Russian opposition figure in late February.

Suspected Ukrainian murderer detained

A Ukrainian suspected of murder was detained on Thursday, August 23, in Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas, local police said. The man, 42, was detained at around 8 p.m. He tried to flee the scene. Two dead Ukrainians were found in Kaunas on Wednesday and Thursday, August 22 and 23 respectively. According to police, the Ukrainian were known to each other as they came to work in the construction sector in Lithuania and planned to leave for Ukraine this week.

Lithuania picks Matelis’ film for Oscar entry

Lithuania has selected «Wonderful Losers. A Different World», a documentary directed by Arūnas Matelis, as its entry for an Academy Awards nomination in the best foreign-language film category. The decision was made by the Lithuanian Oscar Committee, the Lithuanian Film Centre said on Thursday, August 23.

A fallen hero remembered

Lithuania marked on Tuesday, August 21, 27 years since the death of Arturas Sakalauskas, a volunteer soldier who was killed in a clash with Soviet troops outside the parliament building in August 1991, thus becoming the last victim of the Soviet occupation. Genovaitė Sakalauskienė, the mother of Sakalauskas, signatories to Lithuania’s March 1990 independence declaration and members of the Seimas attended on August 21 commemoration ceremony at a memorial stone marking the place where he was killed.

Two conservative MPs unwelcome at Krynica forum

The Lithuanian parliament’s board refused to give the green light for two conservatives MPs, Rasa Juknevičienė and Audronius Ažubalis, to travel to Poland to make speeches at the Krynica Economic Forum in Poland. The Seimas will be represented in the forum, sometimes referred to as the «Eastern Davos», by Andrius Kubilius, another lawmaker of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, and Virgilijus Poderys of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU).

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