LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, January 31, 2023
- Fifteen irregular migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus
- Red lines on arms deliveries to Ukraine must be crossed – Lithuanian president
- Baltic, Polish foreign ministers to discuss NATO agenda in Riga
- Lithuanian Academy of Sciences to announce science prize winners
- Lithuania reports 520 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
- Lithuanian president backs universal conscription, not "half-shaved" fix - advisor
- Lithuania rises 1 notch to 33rd place on global corruption perception index
- Lithuanian president sees no reason to reconsider Reed's citizenship decision
- Lithuania could have energy island in Baltic Sea – energy minister
- Domestic violence cases up in Lithuania in 2022
- Lithuania's airport operator in talks on Dubai, transatlantic flights – minister
- Vilnius Airport's new terminal to increase capacity, raise service quality – minister
- Ryanair's decision to cut flights in Vilnius is usual pressure tactic – minister
- US president to visit Lithuania during NATO summit in July – Nauseda
- Baltic, Polish formins agree to continue supporting Kyiv, enhancing cooperation
- No casualties reported after bridge collapses in central Lithuanian town
- Lithuania's Landsbergis sees no point in Russian ambassadors in EU countries
- Baltics, Poland oppose allowing Russians to complete in Olympics as neutrals
- EU funds fraud scheme uncovered in Lithuania, six people to stand trial
- Vilnius school evacuated after homemade explosive goes off
- Lithuanian minister initiates Baltics' IOC appeal on Russian athletes at Olympics
- Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, January 31, 2023
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, January 31, 2023:
PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to pay a visit to the Kedainiai region.
FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to attend a meeting of the Baltic and Polish foreign ministers in Riga, followed by a press conference at 2 p.m.
Fifteen irregular migrants turned away on Lithuania's border with Belarus
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 15 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.
This follows three days of no recorded attempts to enter the country illegally.
Latvia reported ten attempts at illegal border crossings on Monday, and 76 irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Sunday, according to the latest available information.
A total of 217 regular migrants have been barred from entering Lithuania from Belarus at non-designated places so far this year.
Lithuanian border guards have prevented over 19,500 people from crossing in from Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to turn away irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.
The SBGS says that illegal migration to Lithuania and the EU is being facilitated by Belarusian officials.
Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally in 2021.
Red lines on arms deliveries to Ukraine must be crossed – Lithuanian president
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Red lines on weapon deliveries to Ukraine must be crossed, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.
"I have seen many red lines that have been drawn, and sometimes I even have the impression that these red lines are not drawn by us, the Western countries, the democracies, but that it is the terrorist state of Russia that is trying to draw them through fear and threats. And it is trying to impose them," he told LRT TV on Monday evening.
Nauseda noted that a number of "red lines" have already been crossed when it comes to Ukraine.
"I am speaking not only about tanks. Ukraine's EU candidate status was once taboo, a red line, too. I remember it well. Even when, say, war broke out, Germany initially said categorically that it would only send vests, helmets and the like, but not weapons. But that red line was also passed quite a long time ago," the president said.
"This Rubicon has been crossed, so I do hope that this red line – if it really exists, and I think it exists only in our heads – will also be crossed," he said, referring to Kyiv's plea for fighter jets and long-range missiles.
"Because fighter jets and long-range missiles are essential military aid, and at this crucial stage in the war, where the turning point is about to happen, it is vital that we act without delay," Nauseda said.
"So my answer to your question is that those red lines must be crossed," he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine needs more heavy weapons from NATO allies, including fighter jets and long-range missiles, to counter Russia's invasion.
Baltic, Polish foreign ministers to discuss NATO agenda in Riga
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis is meeting with his Estonian, Latvian and Polish counterparts in Riga on Tuesday to discuss NATO's agenda, including preparations for July's summit in Vilnius.
Landsbergis, Urmas Reinsalu, Edgars Rinkevics and Zbigniew Rau will also discuss how to step up regional security cooperation among Poland and the Baltic countries, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Monday.
Other topical issues to be discussed in Riga include support for Ukraine, and sanctions against Russia and Belarus, it said.
"I am glad that the meetings of the Lithuanian, Polish, Latvian and Estonian ministers are becoming routine," Landsbergis said in the press release. "Our countries' shared past has given us a similar understanding of potential threats and a determination to bolster our regional security."
"The Baltic states and Poland have also repeatedly shown that we must relentlessly consolidate international support for Ukraine, against which Russia is waging an unprovoked, unjustified war, challenging and threatening the entire rule-based world order," he said.
Lithuanian Academy of Sciences to announce science prize winners
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – The Lithuanian Academy of Sciences is to announce on Tuesday the winners of the 2022 Science Prizes.
A total of 27 research papers in the fields of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, medicine and health sciences, agriculture and technology were entered for the competition.
Up to seven Lithuanian Science Prizes are awarded annually for fundamental and applied research and experimental (social, cultural) development work of significance to Lithuania.
Lithuania reports 520 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 520 new coronavirus infections and three deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning.
Of the new cases, 361 were primary, 139 were secondary and 20 were tertiary.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 114, including seven ICU cases.
The 14-day primary infection rate has edged up to 120.1 cases per 100,000 people, but the seven-day percentage of positive tests has ticked down to 19.8 percent.
The daily number of new coronavirus cases remains well below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February 2022.
More than 1.16 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.
Some 69.7 percent of people in the country have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.
Lithuanian president backs universal conscription, not "half-shaved" fix - advisor
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is in favor of universal conscription rather than partial correction of certain shortcomings, his adviser says.
"The president remains consistent, probably the most consistent person on this topic, and says that we have to agree on universal conscription. (...) And to plan our actions from that date, understanding that it will take several years, instead of doing what we are doing now, let's say, going through the correction of certain shortcomings, having this whole "half-shaved, half-peeled" project and being unclear what the final result would be", he added.
His comment came in response to the Ministry of National Defense's proposed conscription reform.
The proposed reform, unveiled by defense minister in early January, provides for shortening the duration of the basic compulsory military service to six months and increasing the total annual number of draftees to 5,000 starting in 2027, up from the current 3,800.
It also calls for offering more alternatives to compulsory initial military service.
After completing their six-month service, young people would be able to remain in the Armed Forces voluntarily for a further three months and would be paid the salary of a professional service member for the period.
The Defense Ministry estimates that about half of conscripts will opt to continue their service for another three months on a voluntary basis.
Under the new model, the Armed Forces would also be able to call up higher education graduates for three months to fill a shortage of specialties.
If approved by the parliament, the reform will be phased in gradually from 2024 to 2027.
Lithuania's Chief of Defense Valdemaras Rupsys has said that the aim of the reform is to eventually have 40,000 active reservists in the Armed Forces, up from 27,000 currently.
Lithuania reintroduced partial military conscription in the spring of 2015 amid security concerns following Russia's annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Moscow-backed separatists and Kyiv forces.
By Augustas Stankevičius
Lithuania rises 1 notch to 33rd place on global corruption perception index
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuania rose one notch to number 33 on Transparency International's global Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 published on Tuesday.
Lithuania scored 62 on a 100-point scale and ranks 12th among EU member countries.
Globally, Denmark tops the list with 90 points, followed by New Zealand and Finland with 87 points each, and Norway with 84 points.
Estonia slipped to number 14 in the latest index with 74 points (13th place and 74 points last year), and Latvia fell to number 39 with 59 points (36th place and 59 points). Poland dropped to 45th place with 55 points (42nd place and 56 points).
Belarus fell to number 91 with 39 points (82nd place and 41 points last year), and Russia slid to 137th position with 28 points (136th place and 29 points).
The EU's average score is 64 points out of 100.
The Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived level of corruption on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 indicates that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 means that it is perceived as "very clean". The level of corruption in the public and government sectors is evaluated by various experts and business leaders.
The Lithuanian government has decided to measure its success in the fight against corruption based on the index, with its program aiming at achieving a score of 70 points in 2024.
Lithuanian president sees no reason to reconsider Reed's citizenship decision
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says he sees no reason to reconsider the decision to deny ice dancer Allison Reed Lithuanian citizenship for merits.
"I would like to see what has happened since the last decision, when, yes, we made a negative decision because we thought there were very serious constitutional obstacles to it," he told the public television LRT's Dienos Tema on Monday.
"If we receive information that will allow us to review this decision, we will consider that decision. But today, with the information I have, I don’t think the decision could be different," the president said.
He also called the reoccurring issue of granting Lithuanian citizenship to the ice dancer a kind of pressure, and reminded of previous individual cases of granting citizenship to skaters, saying that "it was not a story we would like to see repeated".
In 1993, Russian-born ice dancer Margarita Drobiazko was granted Lithuanian citizenship by means of exception, and in August, 22, Nauseda stripped her and her Lithuanian husband Povilas Vanagas of their state awards for performing in Russia's Sochi, despite the fact that Russia's war against Ukraine was going on at the time.
In 2013, then-President Dalia Grybauskaite granted Lithuanian citizenship to skater Isabella Tobias who had been seeking it for several years so that she and her partner Deividas Stagniunas could take part in the Sochi Olympics. After Stagniunas retired in 2014, Tobias was reported to have obtained Israeli citizenship to continue her sport career.
Ice dancers Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius finished fourth in the European Championships.
A year ago, Reed was not granted Lithuanian citizenship by means of exception because she had failed to demonstrate any special merits to Lithuania.
Lithuania could have energy island in Baltic Sea – energy minister
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lithuania could in the future have an energy island in the Baltic Sea, where hydrogen would be produced from electricity generated by offshore wind, Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys has said.
An ongoing study of the country's energy transformation will gauge the need for such an island whose project could be carried out by private investors, according to the minister.
"The Danes are developing that and the Belgians are developing that in the North Sea, and we also have such plans," Kreivys told a TV3 program on Monday.
"A British company is doing a study on our whole energy transformation. Then one of its most acceptable scenarios will be tested with the American laboratory NREL, and modelling will be carried out," he said.
NREL stands for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
"We think that an island will emerge on our shelf in the Baltic Sea. Why do we need it? Because we can transmit electricity to the shore via cables only from two (offshore wind) farms, but we can build six and probably more," Kreivys added.
Four more offshore wind farms could be built in Lithuania's territorial waters in 2030-2040, according to the minister.
"We will have two farms by 2030 and (...) four more between 2030 and 2040," he said.
Kreivys said that Lithuania will consume 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year in 2030, 40 TWh in 2040 and 60 TWh in 2050.
Data from Lithuania's electricity transmission operator Litgrid show that the country used 12 TWh of electricity in 2021, the largest figure since 1991, when it stood at 14.4 TWh.
Kreivys said that the demand for electricity in Lithuania will increase with the decarburization of the industry and transport sectors, adding that the country's industry will need a large amount of hydrogen.
In the minister's words, private investors would be responsible for the development of the energy island project as the state would only take care of its infrastructure.
"I want to say that the island project is not the state's project," Kreivys said. "As to the island itself, as infrastructure, its development would most likely be entrusted to the Epso-G Group."
"It would be a national project in which all our market players plus foreign investors could participate," he added.
By Giedrius Gaidamavičius
Domestic violence cases up in Lithuania in 2022
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS - The number of domestic violence cases rose slightly in 2022 in Lithuania. Minors made 10.3 percent of all victims and eight out of ten were women, the country's State Data Agency said on Tuesday.
90.8 percent of children were victims of their parents or adoptive parents, the statistics show.
Moreover, the number of sexual offenses rose by more than a quarter, and the majority of abusers were men.
A total of 5,872 domestic violence cases were recorded in Lithuania last year, up by 1.2 percent, compared to 2021, the statistics service said. Domestic violence cases accounted for 14.4 percent of all registered crimes and eight out of ten victims of domestic violence were women.
A total of 6,119 victims of domestic violence-related crimes were registered last year, almost two thirds of them were committed in urban areas and over a third were recorded in rural areas. The majority of adult victims – 4,300 or 78.8 percent –were women, and 80.6 percent suffered from an intimate partner.
Over 60 percent of the crimes were classified as minor injuries.
According to the report, the number of sexual violence cases rose by 29 percent last year, and the number of serious bodily injury cases went up by 26.6 percent. The number of domestic homicides grew to 25, from 21.
In 2022, 4,388 person were recorded as suspects in domestic violence cases, down by 2 percent from 2021, and 86.3 percent of them were men.
Lithuania's airport operator in talks on Dubai, transatlantic flights – minister
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports, LOU), the airport operator in Lithuania, is in talks with foreign airlines on regular flights not only to major business centers in Europe, but also to Dubai as well as transatlantic flights, the country's Transport and Communications Minister Marius Skuodis says.
"Right now, the LOU is in active negotiations with airlines. I hope not only flights to the so-called hubs, but also long-haul flights, which LOU has never had in terms of regular flights," the minister told journalists on Tuesday. "I am also personally involved in these discussions and negotiations. One of the last meetings was recently held in Warsaw with the management of LOT and they already plan to increase the number of flights to Warsaw."
"One of the destinations is Asia. Today, we travel to Asia mainly via Turkey, we have 14 flights a week, but we need alternatives so that people have a choice. Let's be honest that the prices would also come down. So Asia is one destination. Dubai could be another one. Another destination, besides European airports, could be across the Atlantic," the minister said.
Skuodis agrees that the business sector now lacks convenient destinations, especially to major European business centers, adding that negotiations on that are also ongoing and funding plans are being made. One of the existing priorities, he said, is flights to London City Airport.
He also pointed out that the runway at Vilnius Airport is suitable for long-haul flights.
"The best proof of this is the upcoming NATO summit when the leaders of various countries will fly in on their biggest airplanes and they will land here and fit in perfectly," Skuodis said.
By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė
Editor: Roma Pakėnienė
Vilnius Airport's new terminal to increase capacity, raise service quality – minister
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Vilnius Airport on Tuesday officially launched the construction of a new passenger departure terminal that will increase the airport's capacity and will raise its quality bar, according to Transport Minister Marius Skuodis.
The chief executive officer of Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports, LTOU) says that the project marks a fundamental shift in the airport's development strategy.
"Vilnius Airport has outgrown its clothes, (...) and the new terminal we are all waiting for will allow it to double its capacity," Skuodis said at the ceremony.
The new terminal will also elevate the quality of service "to a completely different level", he added.
With the new terminal, Vilnius Airport will be able to revamp its entire infrastructure, especially when a spur of the Rail Baltica European-gauge high-speed railway is built to the airport, according to Skuodis.
Aurimas Stikliunas, CEO of LTOU, said that Tuesday's ceremony also marks the launch of a program for upgrading the entire Vilnius Airport.
The state-of-the-art terminal project will fundamentally change the airport's development strategy and will correct mistakes made while expanding the airport in the past, he said.
Vilnius Airport's new passenger departure terminal is being built by Eikos Statyba, the winning bidder, under a contract worth 50.2 million euros, including VAT.
By the end of 2024, the total area of Vilnius Airport's passenger terminals will increase by a third and the passenger throughput will more than double to 2,400 passengers per hour.
By Izabela Kuzmicka
Editor: Roma Pakėnienė
Ryanair's decision to cut flights in Vilnius is usual pressure tactic – minister
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Ryanair's decision to cut routes and flights from Vilnius Airport, citing increased charges as the reason, is part of the Irish low-cost airline's usual tactic of pressure, Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis said on Tuesday, adding that this creates an opportunity for other carriers to offer more routes.
"It is common practice for this company to exert public pressure," Skuodis told reporters at Vilnius Airport. "It is done in Berlin, London and Brussels airports, all over Europe, and it is not something unusual."
"I hope this will be an opportunity for other airlines to increase the number of destinations," the minister said.
"When it comes to national aviation, the aim is not to be too dependent on any single airline, so that we have a sufficient number of diverse routes," he added.
Aurimas Stikliunas, acting CEO of Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports, LTOU), also told the 15min online news site on Monday that he regarded Ryanair's move as public pressure.
European airports can review their pricing, which is regulated jointly by the European Union, on an annual basis, according to Stikliunas.
Some European airports raised their charges last year as traveler flows recovered. However, Lithuanian airports had not increased their charges for several years to encourage airlines to recover their passenger levels, he said.
Ryanair has said recently that it is reducing its summer 2023 schedule at Vilnius Airport by 30 percent, scrapping two routes and cutting the number of flights on 11 others.
The move comes in response to "Vilnius Airport's illogical decision" to increase its charges by 28 percent from January 1, 2023, the airline said in a press release.
By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė
Editor: Roma Pakėnienė
US president to visit Lithuania during NATO summit in July – Nauseda
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – US President Joe Biden is expected to take part in NATO's summit in Vilnius in July, the Lithuanian president's office confirmed on Tuesday.
"In any case, we will see the US president in Lithuania this year – I have no doubt about that – and it will be on July 11-12 (...), when we will host all leaders of NATO member countries and (...) partner countries in Vilnius," President Gitanas Nauseda told reporters.
Ridas Jasiulionis, his advisor, later confirmed to BNS that the details of visits are being coordinated with all participating countries, including the US administration, and that there are "no questions" about Biden's visit.
Lithuania will host NATO's summit for the first time on July 11-12. The gathering is expected to bring together around 40 delegations from NATO member and partner countries, with around 5,000 people estimated to attend the event and accompany the delegations.
By Austėja Masiokaitė-Liubinienė
Baltic, Polish formins agree to continue supporting Kyiv, enhancing cooperation
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – The Baltic and Polish foreign ministers signed a declaration on Tuesday in Riga and vowed to continue supporting Ukraine and cooperating more closely to strengthen "collective deterrence and resilience".
"While being member states of the EU and NATO, we acknowledge the potential to further intensify our cooperation for the sake of mutual benefit," the document reads.
The ministers stressed that cooperation should be developed "on a political and practical level to enhance our efforts to strengthen collective deterrence and resilience and promote economic growth and prosperity of the region and beyond".
The declaration also states that cooperation within NATO is "the cornerstone of our security".
"We reiterate the high importance of continuing political, military, financial support and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine," the declaration states.
Moreover, it reads, the Baltic countries and Poland share a similar historical experience of "aggression and severe oppression by revisionist totalitarian regimes during many decades of the 20th century".
Due to our common past, the ministers say their counties have developed a similar understanding of potential threats and the determination to strengthen their security and protect their independence and territorial integrity. The countries say they share a close vision on the actions necessary to deter and defend against security threats in the region.
"Together we have elaborated initiatives aimed at fighting against hybrid threats, ensuring deterrence and defense, strengthening border security, as well as supporting Ukraine that have later been successfully implemented in various forms and frameworks including the European Union, NATO and the United Nations," the declaration reads.
By Augustas Stankevičius
No casualties reported after bridge collapses in central Lithuanian town
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – Part of a bridge in the central Lithuanian town of Kedainiai collapsed on Tuesday morning, forcing the authorities to close traffic, but there were no casualties, the police said.
"It is the main bridge leading into the town," Dovile Ezerinskiene, spokeswoman for the Kaunas County Police, told BNS.
At 7.40 a.m., the authorities received a report that part of the bridge across the Nevezis River on Tilto Street had collapsed and a hole had opened up in it.
"This caused no casualties or damage to property. The bridge is currently closed to traffic," Ezerinskiene told BNS.
President Gitanas Nauseda, who visited the scene during his scheduled trip to Kedainiai on Tuesday, said the accident revealed a lack of funding for maintaining roads and bridges.
"This highlights once again to the deplorable state of Lithuania's bridges – and not only bridges," Nauseda told reporters in Kedainiai.
"The condition of this bridge was assessed as satisfactory not long ago, but as you can see, the bridge thought otherwise," he said.
The Lithuanian Road Administration did not fulfil its obligation to renovate the bridge in 2022, the president noted.
The administration says that the bridge's girder may have been damaged by heavy vehicles exceeding weight limits.
By Ingrida Steniulienė
Lithuania's Landsbergis sees no point in Russian ambassadors in EU countries
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS - Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says he sees no point in EU member states having Russian ambassadors in their countries.
"In many cases, there is little use in having an ambassador, a Russian ambassador, in any European capital. Because as we have seen, in most cases it's no longer a diplomatic institution, it's an institution of propaganda, covering up crimes of war and in general promoting a genocidal agenda," the minister told reporters at a joint press conference with his Baltic and Polish counterparts in Riga on Tuesday.
In his words, not so long ago Lithuania was the only country without a Russian ambassador. "Now we are in the group of the Baltic countries," he said.
Last week, Estonia and Latvia announced their decisions to expel Russian ambassadors. That was Tallinn's tit-for-tat move in response to the Kremlin's decision, and Latvia expressed solidarity with its Baltic neighbor.
Lithuania downgraded its diplomatic relations with Russia in April, 2022 in response to the massacre in Kyiv's suburb of Bucha.
Landsbergis does not rule out that more countries might follow suit after seeing what is happening in Ukraine, adding, however, that it "takes time" and different perspectives.
For their part, the Polish, Latvian and Estonian ministers say that as long as Russia continues the war in Ukraine, diplomatic relations with the Kremlin have no future.
Baltics, Poland oppose allowing Russians to complete in Olympics as neutrals
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – The Baltic countries and Poland are opposed to allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Olympic Games, even as neutrals, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Tuesday.
"We all agree that as long as Russia, supported by Belarus, is continuing its unprovoked direct aggression against Ukraine, such a step should not be supported; it is unacceptable," he told reporters in Riga.
Latvia's top diplomat called on the international community to express a clear and united position on the issue.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggested last week that Russians and Belarusians should be allowed to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics as "neutral athletes".
"No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport," it said in a statement.
Daina Gudzineviciute, president of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOC), told BNS on Monday that most international Olympic sports federations have suspended Russia and Belarus, which means that athletes from these countries will not be able to participate in the Olympic qualifiers.
She said that the IOC's statement could be "more of a warning that those who qualify will not be able to demonstrate that they are from Russia", because not all federations have suspended Russian athletes and they are not barred from the qualifiers.
According to the LTOC, three international federations have not suspended Russian and Belarusian athletes in individual sports – field tennis, table tennis and cycling.
EU funds fraud scheme uncovered in Lithuania, six people to stand trial
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – An EU-funding fraud case has been handed over to the Vilnius City District Court and six people will stand trial, the country's prosecution service said on Tuesday.
The pre-trial investigation into high-value fraud, fraudulent bookkeeping, document forgery and their use to cause significant damage to the financial interests of the European Union was carried out by the European Delegated Prosecutors and Lithuania's Financial Crime Investigation Service.
The European Public Prosecutor's Office found that the creation of a chain of allegedly fictitious transactions, valued at 1.2 million euros, had caused damage of almost 580,000 euros to the EU budget. The company charged as part of this investigation covered the damage incurred to the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation during the pre-trial investigation.
According to the case materials, acting on behalf of the project promoter, the shareholders organized the purchase of EU-funded equipment from foreign suppliers before or after the tenders were launched. Later on, allegedly acting through intermediaries, they simulated procurement tenders and procedures and significantly inflated the equipment's purchase price, compared to that what was in fact paid the actual equipment suppliers.
Six persons were charged with fraud, document forgery and fraudulent bookkeeping as part of this criminal case. They include the project promoter (a legal entity), its shareholders, and the directors of other companies.
All the suspects pleaded guilty during the pre-trial investigation.
Vilnius school evacuated after homemade explosive goes off
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS – A homemade explosive device went off in a school in Vilnius on Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of students and staff, but causing no injuries or damage.
The capital's police received a report at 10:16 a.m. that three plastic bottles with bulk substance had been found on a staircase of the Levas Karsavinas School in Justiniskiu Street. One of them exploded.
"There are no casualties or damage to property", the police report said.
The school was evacuated at 10:35 a.m. Classes were allowed to resume at around noon.
The school had received no threats. It is thought that the aim was to force the cancellation of a test for fourth-graders scheduled for Tuesday.
Initial examination showed that the bottle contained a mix of household chemicals and a foil roll. It is believed that shaking the bottle could have caused a chemical reaction.
The police have launched a pre-trial investigation and are looking for a possible suspect captured by CCTV cameras.
Lithuanian minister initiates Baltics' IOC appeal on Russian athletes at Olympics
VILNIUS, Jan 31, BNS - Lithuanian Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jurgita Siugzdiniene is initiating the Baltic states' appeal to the International Olympic Committee to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in the Olympics.
She plans to discuss the issue with her Latvian and Estonian counterparts on Thursday.
"I have invited my counterparts to discuss a joint IOC appeal on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions. The IOC's ongoing discussions are surprising in a bad way and they are incomprehensible. At a time when free and democratic countries are mobilizing against Russia and its ally Belarus and increasing support for Ukraine, the IOC is looking for special forms for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in international sport," the minister said in a statement on Tuesday.
In her words, efforts to bring Russian and Belarusian athletes back into competition under the disguise of neutrality are helping the Kremlin's propaganda to prop up their criminal regimes.
"We disagree with that and we do not want our athletes to be forced to compete against aggressors and sacrifice their own values and the values of the countries and societies they represent," the minister said.
Lithuania also plans to invite Nordic and other countries to join this IOC appeal.
The International Olympic Committee suggested last week that Russians and Belarusians should be allowed to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics as "neutral athletes".
"No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport," it said in a statement.
The Baltic states, Poland and Latvia disapprove of such a move, and Latvia is even considering boycotting the Olympics, if the Russians take part.
Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, February 1, 2023
VILNIUS, Feb 01, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, February 1, 2023:
PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to receive credentials from the incoming Greek ambassador at 1 p.m.; to receive credentials from the incoming ambassador of Kazakhstan at 2 p.m.; to receive credentials from the incoming ambassador of the Republic of Korea at 3 p.m.
SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with Korean Ambassador Hoonmin Lim at 3.40 p.m.
THE CABINET to hold its regular meeting and sitting at 1 p.m.
DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to meet with the Ukrainian ambassador at 9 a.m.; to meet with the Czech defense minister at 4.30 p.m.