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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, July 5, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, July 5, 2022
  2. Lithuanian car cleaning firm says data of 50,000 customers leaked 
  3. Lithuania ready to step up expert support to Ukraine – PM 
  4. Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus
  5. Lithuania reports 633 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
  6. Lithuanian adviser says one should learn from comments on migrants, make no drama
  7. Extra-NATO forces may temporarily arrive in Lithuania now as well – adviser
  8. Lithuania to provide additional EUR 10 mln for Ukraine's reconstruction
  9. Special committee in Luxembourg rejects Lithuania's candidate to EU General Court
  10. Commander of NATO JFC Brunssum visits Lithuania
  11. Lithuanian court upholds prison sentence for Greicius for Russia spying
  12. Lithuanian court upholds prison sentence for Greicius for Russia spying (expands)
  13. Lithuanian PM, OECD secgen discuss assistance to Ukraine
  14. Lithuania's Viciunai's Kaliningrad business got almost EUR 14 mln from Russian budget (media)
  15. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, July 7, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, July 5, 2022

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, July 5, 2022:

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Baord of the Seimas at noon.

CULTURE MINISTER Simonas Kairus to attend the opening of an international conrerence "Levinas in Kaunas" at 6p.m.

COURTS

The Court of Appeal to issue its verdict in the case of Aleksej Greicius, a public figure and director general of the Baltic Youth Association Juvenis, at 1 p.m.

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Lithuanian car cleaning firm says data of 50,000 customers leaked 

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – Svaros Broliai, a Lithuanian car washing and cleaning services provider, said late on Monday that hackers had leaked data of around 50,000 customers, such as names, car registration numbers, e-mail addresses and phone numbers, stolen from its cleaning centers' booking system. 

The company said payment-related information, such as bank account details and payment card details, and other highly sensitive data, such as personal codes and home addresses, had not been stored in the leaked database.

Svaros Broliai said customer data of other businesses run by the company – tunnel car washes, premises cleaning services and self-service car washes – were secure, based on the currently available information.

"Today we received information that data of some of the customers of Svaros Broliai's car cleaning centers might have been leaked. Unfortunately, this information proved to be correct after checks were made," Lina Zagariene, the company's director, said in a statement. 

The data are believed to have been stolen by hackers from Russia, according to the director. 

"Hackers from Russia are suspected to have gained unauthorized access to the database of the reservation system of our cleaning centers and to have stolen the information of about 50,000 customers," she said. 

Svaros Broliai has blocked the booking system while the investigation is ongoing and has informed its customers, the State Data Protection Inspectorate and law-enforcement authorities about the incident. 

The company operates five car cleaning centers in Vilnius.

 

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Lithuania ready to step up expert support to Ukraine – PM 

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – Lithuania is ready to continue and step up its expert support to Ukraine, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has said.

"It is necessary to use this moment of mobilization and political will for the decisive implementation of reforms, and Lithuania is ready to continue and strengthen the expert support it is already providing," she said in a press release on Monday. 

According to the prime minister, Lithuania is well aware of Ukraine's financial needs.

"We are contributing to the international community's efforts and providing financial assistance to Ukraine both by joining the instruments created by international institutions and on a bilateral basis," she said. 

Simonyte met with her Ukrainian counterpart, Denys Shmyhal, on the sidelines of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in the Swiss city of Lugano on Monday.

The two prime ministers discussed the course of Russia's war against Ukraine, the impact of the war on Ukraine's economy and international trade, possibilities for shipping Ukrainian grain out of the country, the next steps after the granting of EU candidate status to Ukraine, and Lithuania's support for Ukraine in meeting its immediate needs and carrying out its European integration reforms.

Lithuanian experts have contributed to the preparation of Ukraine's reconstruction plan that was presented in Lugano. 

Lithuania has so far provided more than 500 million euros' worth of assistance to Ukraine, including the hosting of war refugees.

Lithuania will soon transfer a bilateral grant of 2 million euros to Ukraine as humanitarian aid for Ukrainians who have fled from the war zones to the western part of the country, according to the press release. 

 

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Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours recorded no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.

Latvia has recorded no attempts to cross the border illegally either, and Polish border guards have turned 19 irregular migrants away, it said.

Lithuanian border guards have sent more than 10,300 people back to Belarus since last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began about a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime.

 

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Lithuania reports 633 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 633 new coronavirus infections and no deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning.

Some 528 of the new cases were primary, 104 were secondary and one was tertiary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 88, with no ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged up to 158.6 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests up to 34.2 percent.

However, the daily number of new coronavirus cases is still way below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February.

More than 1 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.

Some 69.9 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

 

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Lithuanian adviser says one should learn from comments on migrants, make no drama

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – As international institutions criticize Lithuania for the way it's treating irregular migrants, presidential adviser Kestutis Budrys says one should learn from such comments but make no drama out of them.

"I would view them both negatively and positively, looking into the future. We should not just be self-criticizing and looking whether someone did well or badly here. Let's look ahead and see how we can adjust these procedures", he told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Tuesday.

Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Lithuania's legislation that does not allow irregular migrants to apply for asylum and allows them to be detained simply for entering the country illegally runs counter to European directives.

Amnesty International also criticized the way Lithuanian officials handled last year's migration crisis and proposed halting the country's existing pushback policy as well as releasing all asylum seekers and irregular migrants.

Budrys stressed that Lithuania had coped with the migration situation, pointing out that the country has received not only criticism but also praise for its measures.

Nevertheless, he stressed, Lithuania cannot ignore the human rights concerns, adding that they can be taken into account when preparing for similar attacks in the future.

Lithuanian border guards have pushed back more than 10,000 people trying to enter Lithuanian illegally back since August, 2021 when they were granted the right to do so.

Lithuania maintains that the influx of migrants from Belarus, started a year ago, is a hybrid attack orchestrated by the Minsk regime.

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Extra-NATO forces may temporarily arrive in Lithuania now as well – adviser

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS - Additional NATO forces can be temporarily deployed in Lithuania now, if necessary, but permanent presence will require additional infrastructure, presidential adviser Kestutis Budrys says.

"We are ready to receive additional forces right now, for temporary arrival, for reinforcement," he told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Tuesday. "We are talking about an incoming brigade for deterrence. Rotational deployment, which would in fact mean permanent deployment, requires slightly different infrastructure than for temporary arrival if we needed swift reinforcement."

Temporary deployment could happen if Lithuania saw signs "of some processes in Russia or Belarus or elsewhere, causing our concern", he said.

Meanwhile, for the permanent deployment of a brigade-sized unit in Lithuania, conditions would have to be provided, including the construction of barracks to replace the existing tents and container buildings, and also the equipment of sports halls and other facilities.

Lithuania's representatives say their goal is to have a fully-deployed brigade in the country by around 2027, following improvements to the host nation's infrastructure. Lithuania plans to invest 0.5 billion euros to achieve that.

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Lithuania to provide additional EUR 10 mln for Ukraine's reconstruction

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS - Lithuania will provide the National Bank of Ukraine with additional 10 million euros for urgent reconstruction works, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland.

"We need to continue and accelerate our military, humanitarian and financial assistance to help Ukraine win this war faster. Lithuania's bilateral aid to Ukraine and support for refugees from Ukraine in our country exceed half a billion euros. Lithuania will transfer additional 10 million euros to the National Bank of Ukraine for immediate reconstruction works. Lithuania will support Ukraine until your and our victory! And beyond that", the Lithuanian prime minister told the conference on Tuesday.

The most appropriate and just way to pool funding for Ukraine's reconstruction would be to seize and use Russian assets frozen under the existing sanctions, she added.

"We cannot resurrect the people killed by Russia, but we have a real opportunity to make the aggressors pay reparations. As this money is kept in our banks and docked at our piers," Simonyte was quoted as saying in a statement released by the government press service. "I call on the European Union and all non-EU countries that have imposed sanctions to create a legal mechanism to seize assets and to make the sanctions really effective."

Ukraine, which is in the midst of a war with Russia, has not postponed reforms, but has accelerated them to rebuild an even better Ukraine, the Lithuanian prime minister also pointed out, adding that now is the turn of Ukraine's friends and partners to prove that it's possible to move quickly from discussions to joint action.

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Special committee in Luxembourg rejects Lithuania's candidate to EU General Court

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – A special evaluation committee in Luxembourg has rejected Tomas Davulis, dean of Vilnius University's Faculty of Law, as Lithuania's candidate to the General Court of the European Union.

"We have received information that the committee is giving an unfavorable opinion on Tomas Davulis' candidacy," Government Chancellor Giedre Balcytyte told BNS on Tuesday without providing the reasons why the candidate was rejected as she has not gotten acquainted with all received information.

Davulis is already Lithuania's second rejected candidate after the same committee rejected Gediminas Mesonis, then a justice of the Constitutional Court, in January, 2019.

Davulis was nominated by the Lithuanian government after a special selection procedure, having been pre-approved by the Seimas and President Gitanas Nauseda.

Introducing himself to Lithuanian lawmakers, Davulis spoke about his interest in EU law since his studies, pointing out to a close link of his academic work and professional ties with EU law.

Currently, the EU General Court has two judges from Lithuania – Rimvydas Norkus, a former judge of Lithuania's Supreme Court of Lithuania, appointed in 2019, and also Virgilijus Valancius whose term expired in October, 2021. The latter continues to work amid disagreements over his replacement.

The EU's General Court mainly hears cases involving complaints related to Eu legislation, including states' lawsuits against the European Commission. Judges at this court are appointed for a six-year term.

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Commander of NATO JFC Brunssum visits Lithuania

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS - General Guglielmo Luigi Miglietta, commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, is visiting Lithuania.

This is his first foreign visit since his appointment in early June, the Lithuanian army said on Tuesday.

The new JFC Brunssum commander met with Lithuania's Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupsys to discuss the regional security situation and support to Ukraine.

The visit is also aimed at improving interoperability between the Lithuanian army and NATO command structures and further strengthening military cooperation, the army said.

"The war in Ukraine has united the NATO leadership and allies in their response to the increased threat. This was also clearly evident at the NATO summit. We have a lot of work to do to implement the decisions, and one of them is to review and adapt the operational plans," Rupsys was quoted as saying in the army's statement. "We discussed with the new JFC Brunssum commander the generation of forces in his area of responsibility and the integration of Lithuania's national plans into the regional plans. Such discussions are necessary at all levels and on an ongoing basis for efficiency and timeliness."

NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum is an operational-level NATO command responsible for leading the NATO Response Force and for the formation of the NATO Ultra Rapid Reaction Force.

After his scheduled meetings with representatives of the Lithuanian army, Miglietta will visit Rukla where he will meet Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Andre, commander of the multinational NATO battalion in Lithuania, and troops serving within the military unit.

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Lithuanian court upholds prison sentence for Greicius for Russia spying

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – The Court of Appeal of Lithuania on Tuesday rejected an appeal lodged by Aleksejus Greicius, a public figure and managing director of the Baltic Youth Association Juvenis, and upheld his four-year prison sentence for spying for Russia.

"The judicial panel decided to reject the appeal as the punishments is clearly not too strict," Judge Regina Pociene said.

The prison sentence came into forces after the court's ruling

On November 12, the regional court handed prison sentences to two Lithuanian citizens after finding them guilty of spying for Russia. Greicius received a four-year jail sentence, and Mindaugas Tunikaitis, who confessed and cooperated with the investigators, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison.

Greicius later appealed and asked to be acquitted.

The Court of Appeal heard witnesses' testimonies and statements from the two parties.

Greicius and Tunikaitis were accused of collaborating with Russia's Federal Security Service to collect intelligence information in Lithuania. The defendants did not know each other, but they were in contact with the same FSB agent from Russia's Kaliningrad region. Both men collected and passed on the information for a fee.

Tunikaitis lived close to the border with the Russian region of Kaliningrad and made regular trips to the Russian region, where he was met and recruited by the FSB officer. For almost six years, the Lithuanian citizen observed, photographed and filmed objects, and collected information online or through other people.

Tunikaitis confessed to the espionage charges and gave testimony that helped law-enforcement get a complete picture of the foreign intelligence agency's activities, according to the court. 

For almost four years, Greicius organized events wholly or partially financed by the Russian intelligence officer, photographed or filmed the events and people attending them, gathered information relating to these events and published it in Lithuanian media, and passed the information on the Russian officer, according to the court. 

The defendant denied the espionage charges, but the court of first instance concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove his guilt.

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Lithuanian court upholds prison sentence for Greicius for Russia spying (expands)

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – The Court of Appeal of Lithuania on Tuesday rejected an appeal lodged by Aleksejus Greicius, a public figure and managing director of the Baltic Youth Association Juvenis, and upheld his four-year prison sentence for spying for Russia.

"The judicial panel decided to reject the appeal as the punishment is clearly not too strict," Judge Regina Pociene said.

The prison sentence came into force after the court's ruling, but can still be appealed to the Lithuanian Supreme Court.

On November 12, 2021, Klaipeda Regional Court handed prison sentences to two Lithuanian citizens after finding them guilty of spying for Russia.

Greicius, who denied the espionage charges, received a four-year jail sentence, and Mindaugas Tunikaitis, who confessed and cooperated with the investigators, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison.

Greicius and Tunikaitis were accused of collaborating with Russia's Federal Security Service to collect intelligence information in Lithuania. The defendants did not know each other, but they were in contact with the same FSB agent from Russia's Kaliningrad region. Both men collected and passed on the information for a fee, according to the case-file.

Greicius appealed the sentence and asked to be acquitted.

The man was out of custody until the verdict became final, but was under intensive supervision. He had been detained for three months during the pre-trial investigation between March and June 2020.

The Court of Appeal questioned witnesses and heard the parties' statements.

"The court of first instance examined and evaluated the evidence without violating the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure, correctly established the circumstances of the crime, and correctly applied the law," Judge Pociene said during the hearing.

The panel of judges emphasized that information that does not constitute a state secret but is of interest to foreign intelligence, that is, information ordered to be collected by a foreign intelligence agent or a person authorized by them, can be the object of espionage as well.

"This may include not only official, commercial or professional secrets, but also completely unclassified information or data," the court said in a press release.   

According to the court, Greicius, acting together with a Russian intelligence officer, had for almost four years organized events wholly or partially financed by the officer, photographed or filmed the events and people attending them, gathered information relating to these events and published it in Lithuanian media, and passed the information on the Russian officer. 

Greicius denied the espionage charges, but the court of first instance concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove his guilt.

In his appeal, Greicius did not deny that, at the request of Piotr Chagin, the Russian intelligence officer who used the identity of Piotr Tarashkevich for intelligence operations, he had collected information about the events he had organized, photographs of people attending and watching the events, and video material and articles about these events, and passed all that information on to the Russian officer.

According to the case-file, Greicius also collected information on phone numbers of Lithuanian and Latvian citizens, a copy of a video report on the trial of Viaceslav Titov, a member of the City Council of Klaipeda, and information about the Lithuanian State Security Department's officers, such as their mobile phone numbers and the color and model of their cars, and about interviews conducted by the intelligence agency's officers.

"The court had no doubts as to the reliability of the data provided by the State Security Department to prove that Chagin, a citizen of the Russian Federation, was an officer of the Border Directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service for Kaliningrad Region (and he) was carrying out the task by the state, which seeks to influence social and political processes in Lithuania, to collect information of interest to Russian intelligence in Lithuania," the Court of Appeal said.

"All the examined factual data of the case undoubtedly confirm that Greicius was fully aware that he was collecting and transferring information of interest to foreign intelligence and that he (...) acted with direct intent," the panel of judges stated.

In their opinion, the court of first instance gave Greicius a fair sentence for the crime he committed. 

The court also noted that the man had provided information to foreign intelligence even after he had been warned by the State Security Department. 

 

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Lithuanian PM, OECD secgen discuss assistance to Ukraine

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, currently attending the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, met with Mathias Cormann, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on Tuesday and discussed ways to provide international assistance to rebuild Ukraine and eliminate the consequences of the war.

The meeting also touched upon support for Ukraine as the country is carrying out necessary reforms, as well as the general economic situation in Europe, the Lithuanian government said.

The prime minister thanked the OECD secretary general for initiatives to coordinate assistance to Ukrainians defending their country against Russia, and noted the importance of the OECD's role in providing Ukraine with policy recommendations, good practices and institutional standards.

Simonyte also thanked him for backing Lithuania and Poland's initiative to set up an OECD office for Ukraine to coordinate rebuilding activities in Ukraine, the statement said.

Under the plan, the office will start working in Paris and will be later moved to Kyiv, circumstances permitting.

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Lithuania's Viciunai's Kaliningrad business got almost EUR 14 mln from Russian budget (media)

VILNIUS, Jul 05, BNS – A Kaliningrad-based company that is part of Viciunu Grupe (Viciunai Group), a Lithuanian food production group owned by Visvaldas Matijosaitis, mayor of Lithuania's second-largest city of Kaunas, and Liudas Skierius, received a substantial amount of money from the Russian state budget last year, Siena, a Lithuanian investigative journalism center, reports on Tuesday.

Viciunai Rus received 1.25 billion roubles (some 13.77 million euros based on the exchange rate in January, 2021) in subsidies from the Russian government in January, 2021 under a contract signed with the Russian Ministry of Economic Development.

The Viciunu Grupe's Russian business has also had active relations with at least three Russian banks on the EU sanctions list as VTB Bank loaned the Kaliningrad company 1.63 billion roubles, Alfa Bank loaned 800 million roubles and Gazprombank, which is not on the sanction list but is owned by gas giant Gazprom, issued a loan of over 2 billon roubles, Siena reports.

Dainius Matijosaitis, a board member at Viciunu Grupe, says the subsidies were received under the free economic zone regulations on the creation of jobs and the promotion of business, adding that cooperation with the banks has been taking place "out of inertia", but the existing goal is to terminate these relations "as soon as possible".

The group says it did not consider giving up Russian subsidies after the country started its war in Ukraine.

Viciunu Grupe announced on March 7 it was suspending its operation in Russia in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and claimed to have suspended all investments into production, logistics and trade since then, as well as all sponsorship and marketing campaigns. Also, the group is no longer buying raw materials for its production facility in Kaliningrad, saying that the production continues using previously purchased raw materials for the sole purpose of paying suppliers and financial partners in Europe.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, July 7, 2022

VILNIUS, Jul 07, BNS - The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, July 7, 2022:

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with Pavel Fischer, chairman of the Czech Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee, at 8 a.m.; to attend an international conference at 9 a.m., held to mark the 100th anniversary on the establishment of Lithuanian-American diplomatic relations.

The Seimas of Lithuania to hold the virtual international Centenary Conference to celebrate the centenary of Lithuanian-American diplomatic relations, followed by a press conference at 1 p.m.

THE CABINET to hold a meeting and sitting at 2.15 p.m.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to attend Tocqueville Conversations in Bretagne, France.

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite to attend a meeting of the special commission supervising the construction of a physical barrier along the EU's external border with Belarus at 1 p.m.

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Jul 08 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, June 28, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Lithuanian MPs vote to extend state of emergency until mid-September
  2. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 28, 2022
  3. Lithuanian president leaves for NATO summit, decision on brigade expected
  4. EU concessions on Kaliningrad transit would create extra problems – Lithuanian formin
  5. Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus
  6. Lithuania reports 616 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
  7. Lithuanian parliament to decide on new childcare allowance rules 
  8. Lithuania fixing cybersecurity gaps, not surprised by Russia's hostile rhetoric – PM
  9. Vilnius hosting 2nd congress of expat writers 
  10. Lithuanian court adjourns hearing on Radkevich's appeal until September
  11. Lithuania bans Russian gas imports, except transit to Kaliningrad 
  12. Lithuania bans minors from buying lottery tickets from 2023
  13. A memorial plaque to Lithuanian writer removed in Russia's Sovetsk (media)
  14. NATO fighter jets scrambled five times last week to identify Russian planes
  15. Prosecutor, not ministry, can sue Veolia – Lithuanian court
  16. A memorial plaque to Lithuanian writer removed in Russia's Sovetsk (expands)
  17. Smaller-scale cyber attacks against institutions, businesses in Lithuania continue
  18. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lithuanian MPs vote to extend state of emergency until mid-September

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS - The state of emergency in Lithuania has been extended until mid-September due to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, 80 Lithuanian lawmakers voted in favor of the draft Seimas resolution, seven voted against it and 28 abstained.

Those against the extension said they didn’t understand the need for the whole country to be placed under this regime, arguing that it would be sufficient in the border area only.

Social Democrat Algirdas Sysas said he saw no need for a country-wide state of emergency: "The arguments for introducing a state of emergency in the whole country are to ban the rebroadcasting of Russian TV channels, which is what the communication watchdog is for and it can ban anything. But nobody will probably go and removing the satellite dishes off houses. Those who really want to watch propaganda program have satellite dishes and can use them. And no state of emergency will change that".

Presenting the state of emergency motion earlier this week, Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen said that the threat to public order was not going down, amid Russia's ongoing military aggression in Ukraine as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes, adding that that they are only increasing in scale.

Moreover, she said, Russia is continues with its open and intensifying rhetoric of threats against the countries that support Ukraine.

The state of emergency was introduced in Lithuania on February 24 after Russia started its war against Ukraine and was set to remain until June 29 under the existing resolution. It has now been extended until September 15.

The ban on the rebroadcasting of Russian and Belarusian TV programs, holding meetings in support of Russia's war against Ukraine and other restrictions will remain in force in Lithuania.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 28, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 28, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda, DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas and 
FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to attend NATO's summit in Madrid. 

The SEIMAS to hold plenary sittings starting at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

COURTS

The Lithuanian Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear an appeal by Oleksandr Radkevich, a Ukrainian citizen convicted by a Vilnius court in the January 1991 Soviet crackdown case, starting at 10 a.m.   

 

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Lithuanian president leaves for NATO summit, decision on brigade expected

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – President Gitanas Nauseda is on Tuesday leaving for NATO's summit in Madrid, where the Alliance's leaders are expected to confirm their commitment to transform the multinational battalion currently stationed in the country into a brigade.

"It is obvious that Russia poses a long-term military threat to the Alliance, which is why reinforcing land, sea, and air defense in the Baltic region and throughout NATO's eastern flank is essential," Nauseda said in a press release on the eve of the gathering. "This is the only way to prevent further aggression by the Kremlin."

Neighboring Latvia and Estonia have similar objectives at the summit.

Lithuania and other Baltic and Central European countries are also pushing for Russia to be named as a threat in NATO's new Strategic Concept.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the summit that the Alliance would boost its forces on its eastern flank to brigade-sized units.

NATO's multinational battalions were deployed to the three Baltic countries and Poland in 2017, in response to the increased threat from the Kremlin following the annexation of Crimea. 

The region's countries are now seeking a larger allied presence on their territories because of the threat from Russia following its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

NATO defense ministers discussed this issue in Brussels in mid-June. Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas then said that the Alliance agreed on the development of a brigade-size allied unit for Lithuania, but the final wording would be finalized in Madrid.

According to Anusauskas, part of a Berlin-led new brigade is likely to be stationed in Lithuania and part in Germany. 

Vilnius wants to have a full brigade in Lithuania, but this also requires the infrastructure of the host country.

Lithuanian officials describe the current plan to have most of the brigade stationed in Germany as "a starting point".

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who visited Vilnius in early June, promised to bolster the NATO battalion in Lithuania to a brigade-sized unit, which he also affirmed in his joint communique with President Nauseda.

Some Lithuanian politicians say Vilnius should veto the Strategic Concept if it does not meet the country's interests. However, Anusauskas emphasizes that "a veto never solves all problematic issues".

In Madrid, NATO leaders are also expected to discuss possibilities for Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance.

The two Nordic countries applied for NATO membership in May, abandoning their longstanding policy of military non-alignment in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, their membership bid has been delayed by objections from NATO member Turkey.

 

By Augustas Stankevičius

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EU concessions on Kaliningrad transit would create extra problems – Lithuanian formin

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – The European Commission's concessions to sanctions on the transit of some goods between mainland Russia and its Kaliningrad exclave through Lithuania would create additional legal problems, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Tuesday. 

According to the minister, the Commission is still working on a document on how these EU sanctions should be implemented and the current "thoughts" should not be turned into legally binding documents. 

"The biggest problem would be if these thoughts were turned into a legal document, a legal clarification from the European Commission," he told LRT Radio. In our opinion, they would then create additional legal problems."  

"I am worried that this can be potentially seen as a sign of weakness. Russia cannot demand a review of the sanctions and concessions for itself," Lithuania's top diplomat said.  

"This has to be avoided. (...) I have personally heard confirmation that the Commission thinks so as well. Russia cannot have such a diplomatic victory on sanctions," he added. 

According to Landsbergis, making any concessions to an aggressor only further encourages its aggressive behavior. 

"This is holds true in geopolitics, in diplomacy and in law," he said. 

After EU sanctions against Russia took effect on June 17, Lithuania restricted the transit of steel and ferrous metals to Kaliningrad, a move it said was based on clarification from the Commission.

Russia has threatened to retaliate for the transit restrictions which it says violate international agreements. 

 

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours recorded no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.

It said neighboring Latvia had recorded 12 attempts to cross the border illegally and Polish border guards had turned away 11 irregular migrants.

Lithuanian border guards have sent over 10,300 people back to Belarus since last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began about a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime.

 

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Lithuania reports 616 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 616 new coronavirus infections and no deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning.

Some 518 of the new cases were primary and 97 were secondary.

the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 64, with no ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged up to 114.8 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests up to 29.9 percent.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases is still way below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February.

More than 1 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.

Some 69.9 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

 

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Lithuanian parliament to decide on new childcare allowance rules 

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament is expected to vote on Tuesday on new rules for monthly allowances for caring for children up to two years of age.  

According to Social Security and Labor Minister Monika Navickiene, the new childcare leave model is more family-friendly.

The draft legislation, among other things, would allow parents to choose whether they want to receive their childcare allowance until their child is 18 months old or 24 months old.

In the first case, the allowance will amount to 60 percent of their eligible earnings before tax and in the second case, it will stand at 45 percent (before tax) for the first year and 30 percent (before tax) for the second year.

Parents will also be able to work, but their salary could not exceed that earned before the child was born. 

If the parliament approves the new model in the final vote, it will come into force next January.

Currently, the monthly childcare allowance amounts to 100 percent of one's salary after tax (77.58 percent before tax) if the leave lasts for one year. If parents chose to receive an allowance up until their child is 2 years old, it stands at 70 percent (54.31 percent) in the first and 40 percent (31.03 percent) in the second year.

 

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Lithuania fixing cybersecurity gaps, not surprised by Russia's hostile rhetoric – PM

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – Lithuania is fixing cybersecurity gaps after a recent cyber-attack on its institutions, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday, adding that the country had observed intensive scanning of the systems before the assault.  

"Measures are still being taken. (Experts) are working 24/7, fixing the gaps after identifying them," she told reporters. "This is definitely not the first cyber-attack. We have seen such attacks in the period since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February." 

According to Simonyte, attacks had subsided for some time following the invasion, but there was a lot of scanning for vulnerabilities in information systems.

"(The scanning activity) has been very intensive throughout the recent period. We have been monitoring and seeing the whole situation, and the authorities are now adapting solutions where they are possible," the prime minister said.  

"And Russia's rhetoric is what we are more or less used to where we live, because it usually does not take long for the regime of that country to find a pretext for this rhetoric," she added. 

Lithuania has recently come under an intense cyber-attack, with some public authorities and companies experiencing disruptions. 

Lithuania's National Cyber Security Centre said on Monday afternoon that the most serious incidents had been brought under control, but warned that attacks might continue. 

Killnet, a Russia-affiliated hacker group, claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack, which it said in a video message was in retaliation for the Kaliningrad transit restrictions imposed by Lithuania earlier in June.

After EU sanctions against Russia took effect, Lithuania restricted the transit of steel and ferrous metals to Kaliningrad, a move it said was based on clarification from the European Commission.

 

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Vilnius hosting 2nd congress of expat writers 

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – The second congress of writers of Lithuanian descent from around the world is getting underway in Vilnius on Tuesday. 

"This event brings together writers of Lithuanian decent from all over the world, who write not only in the Lithuanian language, but affirm the importance of Lithuanian identity through their work," said Jurate Caspersen, chairwoman of the Cultural Commission of the Lithuanian World Community. 

The congress, which will run through Thursday, is to be attended by 25 authors, translators and literary critics from 15 countries:  Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The first congress of expatriate writers took place in 2019.

 

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Lithuanian court adjourns hearing on Radkevich's appeal until September

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS –  The Lithuanian Court of Appeal on Tuesday adjourned its hearing on an appeal by Oleksandr Radkevich, a Ukrainian citizen convicted by a Vilnius court in the January 1991 Soviet crackdown case, until September.

The Court of Appeal stated that the man, who is currently defending Ukraine against Russia, was unable to attend the criminal proceedings for an important reason. However, the panel of judges rejected his request for a remote hearing. 

"He must come to Lithuania, familiarize himself with the case and attend the hearing in person," Judge Nerijus Meilutis said during the hearing.

Three previous attempts by the court to hold a hearing on Radkevich's appeal in Vilnius failed in January, February and March. 

Radkevich notified the court that he was unable to attend the hearing in Vilnius due to the ongoing fighting in his country, sending in documents, including a territorial defense volunteer certificate, to prove this. 

Arvydas Verpecinskas, Radkevich's lawyer, emphasized that his client is not in hiding, but he is requesting remote hearings because of the war in Ukraine.

The Court of Appeal warned, however, that Radkevich's appeal might go unheard if he fails to appear in court. 

"(The man is fighting) in territorial defense, not in regular forces, and if he evades and fails to appear at the hearing, the panel will consider terminating the proceedings," said Judge Meilutis. 

The next hearing is scheduled for September 6.

Radkevich, 53, was detained in Greece last September on a European arrest warrant issued by a Lithuanian court. The Supreme Court of Greece ruled on February 9 not to extradite the man to Lithuania and he was released.

Several years ago, Vilnius Regional Court sentenced Radkevich to four years in prison for driving a tank involved in the bloody events at the Lithuanian capital's Press House.

The Ukrainian appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeal of Lithuania last December. He had the right to do so even though the verdict had become final, because his case was heard by the court of first instance in absentia.

Radkevich is one of 67 people handed prison sentences in the mass trial. The majority of the defendants were convicted in absentia as Russia and Belarus refused to extradite them. 

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were injured when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.

The Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the legitimate government of Lithuania which declared independence on March 11, 1990.

 

 

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Lithuania bans Russian gas imports, except transit to Kaliningrad 

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – Lithuania has passed a law banning Russian natural gas imports into the country, except for gas transit via its territory to Moscow's Kaliningrad exclave. 

The parliament on Tuesday adopted the respective amendments to the Law on Natural Gas in a vote of 123 to none with two abstentions. 

The legislation will bar access to Lithuania's gas transmission system and its Klaipeda LNG terminal to suppliers from countries deemed as posing a threat to national security. The ban will not apply to suppliers transporting gas via Lithuania to Kaliningrad. 

Klaipedos Nafta, the operator of the Klaipeda LNG terminal, in early March suspended the acceptance of cargoes from Russia's Novatek after the EU imposed sanctions on Gennady Timchenko, a Russian oligarch who can be considered a controlling person of the Novatek Group under EU law, over the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine.

In April, Lithuania also cut off imports of pipelined Russian gas in a bid to gain full independence from Gazprom and in response to Russia's energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine.  

Currently, Russian gas continues to transit through Lithuania to Kaliningrad, but under a different technical regime than usual, ensuring that only the volume of gas needed for transit is transported. 

 

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuania bans minors from buying lottery tickets from 2023

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS – Minors will no longer be able to buy any lottery tickets in Lithuania from January 2023. 

The parliament on Tuesday adopted the respective amendments to the Law on Lotteries in a vote of 88 to seven with abstentions.    

The new legislation will also prohibit shop cashiers from offering lottery tickets to customers. 

The Seimas also reversed its previous decision and definitively banned lottery organizers and lottery ticket distributors and their employees from encouraging shoppers to participate in lotteries by offering them to buy tickets at the point of distribution.

The ban does not apply when lottery tickets are sold online.

Currently, there is no age limit for purchasing lottery tickets, but a person has to be at least 16 years old to claim the winnings.

 

 

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

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A memorial plaque to Lithuanian writer removed in Russia's Sovetsk (media)

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS - A memorial plaque to Vilhelmas Storosta-Vydunas, a Lithuanian writer and philosopher who lived and worked in Sovetsk, Russia's Kaliningrad region, has been removed, Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT reports on Tuesday.

"Friends have asked for a plaque to Denis Davydov, instead of Vydunas," Yevgeny Makarov, head of the Sovetsk administration, posted on the VKontakte social network, sharing a video of the process.

He also provided a link to a Wikipedia article about Davydov, a leader of the partisan resistance to Napoleon in 1812 and a representative of "hussar poetry".

A participant of the Lithuanian national revival movement, Vydunas was born in 1868 in Lithuania's Silute District. While living in the Lithuanian part of East Prussia, then part of Germany, he wrote more than 30 drama works and lectured on the subject of nationality throughout Lithuania.

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NATO fighter jets scrambled five times last week to identify Russian planes

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS - NATO fighter jets were scrambled five times last week to identify and escort Russian military planes flying in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea, and also escorted a single-engine plane flying in the Estonian airspace, Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense said on Monday.

On June 20, fighters jets stationed as part of NATO's air policing mission identified a Russian IL-20 aircraft twice. This type of aircraft was also identified and escorted on June 21 and 23. The plane was in contact with the air traffic control center, in some cases flying without a flight plan and with the radio transponder switched off.

On June 24, NATO fighter jets identified a small white single-engine EV97R-type aircraft, the ministry told BNS.

"No identification marks could be established for this private aircraft. The plane was flying in Estonia's airspace from Parnu to Rakvere and did not cross the border", the ministry said.

It noted that the aircraft was flying with its onboard transponder off, without a flight plan and without radio communication with the regional air traffic control center.

"The aircraft was flying within the Estonian airspace, therefore, the threats of possible airspace violations were assessed in line with Estonia's internal flight rules," the ministry said.

Also on June 20, NATO fighter jets patrolled along the Baltic airspace border with Russia and Belarus.

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Prosecutor, not ministry, can sue Veolia – Lithuanian court

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS - The Lithuanian Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected the state's lawsuit against the French energy group Veolia, worth more than 240 million euros.

A judicial panel ruled that the lawsuit met key elements of public interest defense, but it should have been brought by a prosecutor as the ministry could not do that.

"A lawsuit to defend the public interest can only be brought by a prosecutor and by institutions authorized by law, and the right must be provided for by a law, and not by a by-law. In this case, the Energy Ministry was granted the power to sue by a government resolution, therefore, the judicial panel maintains, the state did not have the right to bring the lawsuit," the court said in a statement.

In February, the Vilnius Regional Court also refused to accept a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Energy, representing the State of Lithuania.

The regional court also rejected the state's lawsuit once earlier because the dispute between Lithuania and Veolia is still being considered by the arbitration court in Washington. In January, however, the Supreme Court of Lithuania ruled this was not an obstacle to filing a lawsuit with a Lithuanian court.

In July, 2020, the Energy Ministry filed a lawsuit against Veolia Group companies Veolia Environnement, Veolia Energie International, Vilniaus Energija and Litesko, as well as against Icor and persons with links to these businesses.

The move was aimed at transposing to national courts the claims Lithuania had brought in a counterclaim against Veolia, filed with the Washington arbitration court in 2017. 

Lithuania seeks to prove that Veolia and Icor illegally secured lease contracts for heating businesses in ten Lithuanian municipalities between 1999 and 2003 and illegally profited from heating consumers.

Having initiated a case against Lithuania in 2016, Veolia maintains that the Lithuanian authorities violated the French-Lithuanian bilateral investment protection treaty, adding that its investments suffered due to unfair behavior by Lithuanian politicians and regulators. The French company sought damages at the Washington arbitration.

Initially, Veolia sought 118 million euros in damages from Lithuania, but the amount was later reduced to 79 million euros.

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A memorial plaque to Lithuanian writer removed in Russia's Sovetsk (expands)

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS - A memorial plaque to Vilhelmas Storosta-Vydunas, a Lithuanian writer and philosopher who lived and worked in Sovetsk, Russia's Kaliningrad region, has been removed, Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT reports on Tuesday.

"Friends have asked for a plaque to Denis Davydov, instead of Vydunas," Yevgeny Makarov, head of the Sovetsk administration, posted on the VKontakte social network, sharing a video of the process.

He also provided a link to a Wikipedia article about Davydov, a leader of the partisan resistance to Napoleon in 1812 and a representative of "hussar poetry".

Responding ironically to the move, Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys said "our famous writer, philosopher and humanist, persecuted by the Nazis, has been denazified".

"This way Russia is trying to put him on the same shelf with the "armed" sculptures of the Great Patriotic War. The bas-relief has been removed from the house where Vydunas lived for 11 years," the minister said in his Facebook post.

A participant of the Lithuanian national revival movement, Vydunas was born in 1868 in Lithuania's Silute District. While living in the Lithuanian part of East Prussia, then part of Germany, he wrote more than 30 drama works and lectured on the subject of nationality throughout Lithuania.

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Smaller-scale cyber attacks against institutions, businesses in Lithuania continue

VILNIUS, Jun 28, BNS - Cyber attacks against Lithuanian state institutions and businesses continue on Tuesday, but on a slightly smaller scale compared to yesterday, Jonas Skardinskas, acting head of the country's National Cyber Security Center, told BNS on Tuesday.

"The total number of affected state institutions is lower than yesterday. I couldn’t compare the intensity of attacks, but I think that pooled effort to protect websites has helped, and judging from the information from public sources, we now see private businesses being targeted," Skardinskas told BNS.

In his words, the state-controlled seaport of Klaipeda and the Center of Registers have been hit by DDoS attacks since this morning and their operation was disrupted as some point.

The Vilnius municipality, Lithuanian courts, Siauliu Bankas, IT company Baltneta, as well as the 15min news website, Regitra and eTAKSI have also come under smaller attacks.

The State Tax Inspectorate was also attacked on Monday, Skardinskas said, adding, however, its system's disruption was mainly caused by other failures, rather than the attacks, he said.

"It was a technical network failure that was not directly related to the attack. The attack did take place but it was not very severe, and the failure was due to a network fault," he said.

Skardinskas also confirmed that the NCSC's own website was also attacked, but the institution managed to repel it.

In total, eight larger-scale or longer attacks have been recorded by the NCSC's cyber security experts since last week.

As reported earlier, the websites of Litgrid, Lithuania's state-owned power transmission system operator, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), the country's state-owned railway company, the State Tax Inspectorate, a telecommunications center, the Delfi news website came under attack, and disruptions in the area of accounting services were also reported.

The NCSC's acting director says the damage to institutions has so far been more "reputational", while businesses may have suffered financial losses as a result of these attacks.

A group calling itself Killnet has claimed responsibility for the attack, as it published information on planned and executed attacks on its Telegram channel. The group by that name is linked to Russia's intelligence in the cyber world.

Killnet said earlier the attacks were being carried out in retaliation for the Kaliningrad transit restrictions on certain goods, imposed a week and a half ago.

Lithuania restricted the transit of steel and ferrous metals to Kaliningrad after the EU sanctions came into force, stating that the decision was based on the European Commission's clarification.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 29, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 29, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda, DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas and FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis attending NATO's summit in Madrid.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen  to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 9 a.m.

Jonava to host an opening ceremony at 11 a.m.for a newly-established company, Lithuania Defense Services, that will provide logistics and maintenance services for combat vehicles owned by the Lithuanian army and NATO allies. The ceremony will be attended by Deputy Minister of National Defense Vilius Semeska, Chief of Defence Lt. Gen. Valdemaras Rupsys, the CEOs of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Lithuania Defense Services.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to meet with UK Ambassador to Lithuania Brian Olley at 9.30 a.m.

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Jun 30 2022

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