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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, June 21 2022

Jun 27 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 21, 2022
  2. Defmin dismisses Russia's talk of Lithuanian port blockade as 'plucked out of thin air' 
  3. Lithuanian border guards turn 19 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus
  4. Lithuania reports 382 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
  5. Romas Kalanta named honorary citizen of Kaunas 
  6. Lithuania's opposition MPs return to plenary hall after 2-week boycott 
  7. Lithuanian PM says there's no blockade of Kaliningrad
  8. Lithuania increases number of conscripts, cadets, army's civilian staff 
  9. Lithuania to receive 700 monkeypox vaccine doses shortly – ministry 
  10. New COVID-19 cases likely to increase in Lithuania in fall – minister 
  11. Lithuanian agency apologizes over Russian-language exam task, plans probe
  12. Lithuanian parliament rejects opposition's anti-inflationary plan 
  13. Nauseda vows support in war against Russia, on EU membership during call with Zelensky
  14. Russia's transit accusations against Vilnius part of war against the West - Landsbergis
  15. Even former skeptics back EC's recommendation on Ukraine – Landsbergis
  16. Minimum pay could go up 18.9 pct next year – Lithuania's c.bank
  17. Lithuania's Zalimas fails to get on UN Human Rights Committee
  18. Lithuania's InterMin proposed extending state of emergency over Russia's war in Ukraine
  19. Nigeria moves its embassy from Ukraine to Vilnius
  20. OSCE secgen talks Ukraine situation with Lithuanian leaders
  21. Lithuania seeks EU leaders' backing amid Russia's threats over transit restriction - BNS SPECIAL

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 21, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 21, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas and CHIEF OF DEFENSE Valdemaras Rupsys at 9 a.m.; to meet with OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid at 11 a.m.; to take part in the European Council's preparatory video conference at 3:30 p.m. 

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to meet with Schmid at 2:30 p.m. 

The SEIMAS to hold plenary sittings starting at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

MPs, government officials and migrants to participate in a discussion on "Lithuania's Plan for Migrants" in the SEIMAS building at 2 p.m. 

HEALTH MINISTER Arunas Dulkys to host a media breakfast at 10 a.m. to give an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic situation and plans for the autumn.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with Schmid at 9 a.m.; to meet with the Nigerian ambassador to Lithuania at 2 p.m. 

OTHER EVENTS

The Family Movement to hold a rally outside the parliament building in Vilnius starting at 9 a.m. to protest against the ruling bloc's "bulldozer". 

 

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Defmin dismisses Russia's talk of Lithuanian port blockade as 'plucked out of thin air' 

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has dismissed Russia's talk of a blockade of the Lithuanian port as being "plucked out of thin air".  

"All hints that Russia may take some 'other measures' and that it may blockade the Lithuanian port in some special non-contact way are plucked out of thin air," Anusauskas posted on Facebook on Monday. 

"Russia has not had and does not have any measures, apart from diverting its own transit to its own ports," he added. 

The minister noted that steel and ferrous metal products can no longer be transported via Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Poland and other EU member countries either, due to the bloc's sanctions, while the transit of passengers and goods not subject to sanctions continues.

Earlier on Monday, Russia demanded that Lithuania lift the ban on the rail transit of some goods to its Kaliningrad exclave.

Lithuania says it has not imposed any unilateral national restrictions as the ban is part of EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

 

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Lithuanian border guards turn 19 irregular migrants away on border with Belarus

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 19 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.

Latvia has recorded 12 attempts to cross the border illegally over the past 24 hours, and Polish border guards turned away 21 migrants on Sunday.

Lithuanian border guards have sent more than 10,200 people back to Belarus since last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. However, the number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

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 382 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 382 new coronavirus infections and no deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning. 

Some 321 of the new cases were primary and 61 were secondary. 

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 75, including three ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged up to 78.9 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 23.3 percent.

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases

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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Romas Kalanta named honorary citizen of Kaunas 

KAUNAS, Lithuania, Jun 21, BNS – Romas Kalanta, a nineteen‑year‑old who set himself on fire in Kaunas 50 years ago to protest against the Soviet rule, has been posthumously named an honorary citizen of Lithuania's second-biggest city. 

Kaunas City Council's decision was adopted by consensus at Tuesday's meeting and was greeted with applause.

"Romas Kalanta is a child of the nation and a herald of our freedom," Benjaminas Zelvys, chairman of the Kaunas Municipal Council for Awards, told BNS.

"The sacrifice of the nineteen-year-old not only brought the younger generation into the streets and awakened the fighting spirit of the nation, but also triggered a strong anti-Soviet wave," the official said.

"His courage that defied the dictatorship, restrictions, violence and threats pushed the country towards liberation and independence," he added.  

On May 14, 1972, Kalanta poured himself with gasoline in the public garden in front of the Musical Theater in downtown Kaunas and set himself on fire after shouting out "Freedom for Lithuania!". He later died in hospital.

This was the first case of self-immolation in Lithuania in protest against the Soviet rule.

 

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Lithuania's opposition MPs return to plenary hall after 2-week boycott 

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuania's opposition MPs on Tuesday returned to the main plenary hall after a boycott of almost two weeks and say they will remain there no matter how the parliament votes on their proposed anti-inflationary package.  

"The two key messages are that the position has realized that the work of the Seimas is impossible without the opposition and that the opposition must be reckoned with [...] as they represent the electorate as well," Saulius Skvernelis, leader of the Democratic Union "For Lithuania, told reporters before the parliament's sitting. 

The opposition said on Monday they would return to the main hall if their anti-inflationary proposals were put on the Seimas' Tuesday agenda. 

The package, which includes proposals to temporarily cut VAT on heating, hot water, electricity and gas, raise the non-taxable income threshold, lower excise duties on fuel and push back the deadline for choosing an independent electricity supplier, were to be introduced before the parliament in the morning. 

Skvernelis said he expected the package to pass the first reading in the parliament, but added that he would stay for the afternoon sitting regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Andrius Mazuronis, head of the opposition Labor Party's political group in the Seimas, said he expected the parliament to return to normal. 

Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the speaker of the parliament, also said that she expected that the conflict had been resolved.

The opposition had boycotted the parliament's plenary, committee and commission meetings since June 8 when the ruling bloc held an unscheduled meeting to finalize the interpellation procedure against Agriculture Minister Kestutis Navickas. The minister remained in office after this process.

A special dialogue group was later set up to resolve the conflict.

According to Cmilyte-Nielsen, the dialogue group remains in place to resolve any disagreements should any arise.

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Lithuanian PM says there's no blockade of Kaliningrad

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuania is not interpreting the EU's sanctions and is not blockading Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday.  

"There's no blockade of Kaliningrad. It's just that since last weekend, sanctions have been into force on some of the goods included in the so-called sanctions package, namely steel and ferrous metals, and accordingly, railway customers or contracting parties have been informed about the application of these sanctions and that these goods cannot be loaded and transported," Simonyte told reporters. 

"The transport of all other goods that are either unsanctioned or not yet subject to sanctions is taking place, as is the transit of passengers under a special agreement between the European Union, Russia and Lithuania," she added. 

In a gesture of goodwill, Lithuania did not suspend the agreement that allows Russian citizens to transit to and from Kaliningrad when Russia could not pay for it because of international sanctions against its banks, the prime minister noted.      

"We had situations during this period when, for example, due to certain restrictions imposed by banks, Russia was unable to pay for passenger transport, which would have formally been a reason to terminate the agreement, but the transport continued and we continued to follow the agreements, and the issues were resolved, and financial institutions were found through which it was possible to make payments and settle the debts," she said. 

Moscow on Monday demanded that Lithuania lift the ban on the rail transit of some goods between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad, saying that the restrictions violate international agreements. 

Vilnius says it has not imposed any unilateral national restrictions as the ban is part of EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Simonyte said it is ironic that such accusations come from Russia. 

"I don't know if there's any international treaty that it [Russia] hasn't violated," she said. 

 

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuania increases number of conscripts, cadets, army's civilian staff 

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament decided on Tuesday to increase the number of young people called up for compulsory military service, as well as the number of cadets enrolled in the Military Academy and that of civilian personnel working for the Armed Forces. 

The Seimas unanimously adopted a bill, drafted by the Defense Ministry, on the basic structure of the Armed Forces.

"These decisions will allow flexible planning and staffing of military units and are necessary in the light of the growing needs of the Armed Forces, including the increasing demand for junior officers," Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said in a press release.  

The law sets the annual number of conscripts at between 3,400 and 4,400, compared to 3,800-4,000 currently. 

It also provides for raising the maximum number of cadets enrolled in the General Jonas Zemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania to 440, from 320 currently, with the minimum number unchanged at 200.

The threshold number of active reserve personnel called up for exercises and training each year is set to increase to between 2,500 and 5,000, from 1,500-4,000 currently.  

The number of persons working for the Armed Forces under employment contracts is set to rise to 2,050, up from 1,800 currently.

The Defense Ministry says there is an increasing need for civilian personnel to provide medical care, catering, warehousing, infrastructure maintenance, supply and other support services.

Three military campuses in Siauliai, Vilnius District and Silale District are planned to be built in 2023, and the maintenance of the infrastructure of these military units alone will additionally require around 150 contract personnel.

 

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Lithuania to receive 700 monkeypox vaccine doses shortly – ministry 

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Some 700 monkeypox vaccine doses will arrive in Lithuania in the coming weeks, Deputy Health Minister Ausra Bilotiene Motiejuniene said on Tuesday. 

"[The jabs] should reach Lithuania in two or three weeks," she told reporters.

The European Union said last week that it had purchased nearly 110,000 monkeypox vaccine doses to contain the outbreak of the disease.

The Health Ministry has told BNS that 700 of the doses should come to Lithuania.  

 

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New COVID-19 cases likely to increase in Lithuania in fall – minister 

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuania is likely to see an increase in new coronavirus cases in the fall, Health Minister Arunas Dulkys said on Tuesday.  

"It is very likely that we will have a rising infection rate in the fall," he told reporters.

Officials statistics show that the number of new cases has been edging up since early June. 

Loreta Asokliene, Lithuania's chief epidemiologist, says it is too early to say if this is an upward trend that is likely continue until the fall or just a temporary fluctuation.

"It could be a fluctuation or it could be that the incidence is starting to rise slightly," the epidemiologist said.

"Apparently, we will be able to say more precisely in a few weeks. There is a slight upswing, but it is not so large as to make us worry," she added. 

According to Dulkys, the health system is prepared for a possible wave of new cases in the fall, with the existing testing mechanisms to be put back in place if necessary to maintain the normal rhythm of life and in-person education.

Facemasks first

Lithuania should receive vaccines adapted to the Omicron strain in the fall and will invite the elderly take an extra booster shot, according to Dulkys. 

"We can't say at this stage if everyone will be invited to do so, but studies are being carried out and we are waiting for recommendations from the European Medicines Agency," he said.

Asked if the country could be placed under a lockdown in the fall, the minister said that "all measures are theoretically possible, but seeing the whole toolbox of measures, I think it is unlikely".

The minister said the restrictive measures to be reintroduced first would most likely include the requirement to wear facemasks.

"Only a new strain, a new threatening strain, could change the course of our ship," he said.  

In Dulkys' words, mobile vaccination stations could be bought back if the number of new cases starts to rise significantly in the fall.

 

By Augustas Stankevičius

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Lithuanian agency apologizes over Russian-language exam task, plans probe

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuania's National Education Agency on Tuesday apologized over one of the tasks of the secondary school graduation exam in Russian as a foreign language and plans to carry out an investigation.

The assignment required students to write a letter to a school in Russia, proposing to partake in a project and expressing hope for cooperation. Some Ukrainian children seeking secondary education in Lithuania also took the exam, the institution noted.

"We regret and deeply apologize to the graduates and the entire education community for the task that caused controversy and resentment among the candidates, and forced them to go beyond their civic attitudes to complete the task. It is particularly regrettable over the fact that students from Ukraine chose to take this exam, but I do hope they feel the support of their classmates and teachers and that they know that Lithuania supports their home country," Ruta Krasauskiene, director of the National Education Agency, was quoted as saying in a statement.

Some 1,963 school-leavers took the Russian language exam on Monday.

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Lithuanian parliament rejects opposition's anti-inflationary plan 

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – The Seimas of Lithuania did not approve any of the four proposals of the opposition's anti-inflationary package after it was introduced to the parliament on Tuesday, sending the draft amendments back to the initiators for improvement. 

"That reconciliation was pro forma," said MP Dainius Gaizauskas of the opposition Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union after the last vote.  

"You clearly demonstrated by your actions that you do not need the opposition," said Aurelijus Veryga, another Farmers and Greens MP.  

The anti-inflationary plan was drawn up by five opposition parliamentary groups that returned to the main plenary hall on Tuesday after a boycott of almost two weeks.

As part of measures to reduce the financial burden on household consumers, the plan called for a zero VAT rate on heating, hot water and wood used for heating, and a reduced VAT rate of 9 percent on electricity and gas. 

The opposition also proposed to raise the non-taxable income threshold and lower excise duties on fuel. 

The Finance Ministry says the package would cost the state at least 1.2 billion euros and would further fuel inflation. 

Economists say the plan is populist and should not be adopted because it would force the state into debt and worsen its situation. The ruling bloc sees the package as part of preparations by the opposition parties for next year's municipal elections.  

 

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Nauseda vows support in war against Russia, on EU membership during call with Zelensky

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda had a phone conversation with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday and pledged Lithuania's continuous support for Kyiv in its ongoing war with Russia, as well as the country's backing in Ukraine's bid to become a candidate for EU membership.

During their conversation, Nauseda and Zelensky discussed the course of Russia's war in Ukraine, the need for military support and Ukraine's bid for EU candidate status, the Lithuanian presidential press service said.

The Lithuanian leader also stressed that Lithuania would continue to support Ukraine as much as possible and would urge its Western partners "not to succumb to war fatigue and to continue to actively support the people of Ukraine in their fight for the freedom and the sovereignty of their country".

Moreover, Nauseda voiced the support of the Lithuanian people to the Ukrainians and wished them strength, stressing that Lithuania will stand together with Ukraine until victory, the statement reads.

"Lithuania and all our people stand with you and we will stand together until victory. We feel your pain and respect your commitment to the fight for freedom. We will do everything we can to ensure that Ukraine gets the help it needs to win this war. The future of a free Ukraine lies in Europe. I believe nobody has doubt about that," the Lithuanian leader said.

Nauseda also underlined Lithuania's strong support for Ukraine's aspiration to join the EU, and he assured Zelensky that he would make every political effort to start the process as soon as possible.

The Lithuanian leader said the forthcoming European Council meeting in Brussels later this week, held to decide on whether to grant Ukraine EU candidate status, is "a historic opportunity for Europe to make it clear that Ukraine's future lies in the EU".

The European Commission's recent recommendation to grant Ukraine candidate status laid a positive foundation for the European Council debate in Brussels, Nauseda pointed out.

The two presidents also discussed possible export routes for Ukrainian grain via EU territory and ports, the presidential press service said.

Zelensky thanked Lithuania's First Lady Nausediene and the people of Lithuania for their initiative in opening a Ukrainian center in Vilnius, stressing that this was an important sign of support for the Ukrainians.

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Russia's transit accusations against Vilnius part of war against the West - Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS - Russia's accusations against Vilnius over the recently-imposed restrictions on the transit of goods to Kaliningrad are part of its war against the West, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.

"Russia's narrative is simply part of its war against the West: to choose a target, to try to mobilize its society," Lithuania's top diplomat told reporters at the Seimas on Tuesday.

On Monday, Russia voiced its demand for Lithuania to end the recently-introduced ban on the rail transit of some goods to Russia's Kaliningrad region via Lithuania.

Vilnius, for its part, says it did not impose unilateral restrictions, adding that the existing restrictions are part of the EU sanctions, which was backed on Monday night by the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Lithuania also points out that land transit between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia is not suspended, adding that both the flow of passenger and non-sanctioned goods continues.

"From our perspective, this is the application of law. If we have certain legislation, there's a clarification of it, then there's not much room for interpretation, it has to be applied", Landsbergis said.

Lithuania's Customs Department points out the EU's fourth sanction package, adopted on March 15, includes restrictions on Russian steel and other ferrous metal products.

Russia has threatened Lithuania with "appropriate measures" in response to the halted transit. Landsbergis, however, says Russia should first turn to the European Commission for the clarification of the existing sanctions.

"And if the clarification is inadequate, then they need to turn to the European Court of Justice that interprets all legislation," he said.

The minister refrained to speculate on what retaliatory measures the Kremlin might take against Lithuania.

"It's very important to say from our side that we are a side that is guided by the rule of law in this dispute, and our decisions are based on law and its interpretation," Landsbergis said.

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Even former skeptics back EC's recommendation on Ukraine – Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS - The European Commission's recent recommendation to grant war-torn Ukraine EU candidate status is now also backed by former skeptics, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.

"There's a lot of optimism," Lithuania's top diplomat told reporters at the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday. "Even some skeptics and critics have expressed their support for granting candidate status but they also expect reforms and transformations."

He made the remarks after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

Discussions are still ongoing at the ambassadorial level, he said, adding that "minor editorial changes" might turn the whole process upside down.

"We cannot yet say it's a won battle. (...) We are trying to convince those who are still a bit hesitant. And these hesitations are varied, they come in different proposals, maybe we should swap things up: first, the reforms, not the candidate status," the minister said.

"They seem to be minor editorial changes that change the whole logic of the Commission's proposal," he added.

Last Friday, the European Commission proposed to EU leaders to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status, it added, however, that the two countries were asked to implement certain changes in their state governance.

EU members states will need to make the final unanimous decision on whether to accept the EC recommendation when their leaders will meet for the European Council's two-day meeting on Thursday.

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Minimum pay could go up 18.9 pct next year – Lithuania's c.bank

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – The minimum monthly pre-tax pay could go up 18.9 percent, or 138 euros, to 868 euros in Lithuania next year, the central Bank of Lithuania says, adding, however, that it would be in favor of more cautious decisions, such as delaying decisions on the minimum pay or raising it in stages, due to the high level of economic uncertainty.

Kotryna Tamoseviciene, head of the central bank's Macroeconomics and Forecasting Division, says such a minimum pay has been calculated based on the formula agreed by the Tripartite Council, adding that the proposal is not to deviate from it. She warned, however, that if the economy slows down, raising the minimum pay will create additional challenges.

"We propose to continue using the formula and we see no compelling reasons to deviate significantly from it. However, we see that, at the moment, there's a high degree of economic uncertainty and the balance of risks to economic growth is negative. Therefore, we would support more cautious decisions, perhaps decision should be made later in the year, or other options should be considered to protect against risks and to be able to assess the changes in the economy if they start to materialize," Tamoseviciene said at the Tripartite Council meeting on Tuesday.

By Erika Alonderytė

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Lithuania's Zalimas fails to get on UN Human Rights Committee

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS - Lithuanian candidate Dainius Zalimas has failed to get elected to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The election took place last week, on June 17, in New York and Lithuania had nominated the former president of the Constitutional Court and incumbent dean of the Faculty of Law of Vytautas Magnus University for the position.

"If we had succeeded, if I had been elected, it would have been one way. Now we have failed, I have not been elected, life goes on as it has so far. I don't think about it too much," Zalimas told BNS on Tuesday, adding that the election involved a lot of political processes.

"Still, there are countries that negotiate who votes for their candidate. There are various exchange processes. The earlier you start, the better. Personally, I am far from knowing everything about the behind-the-scenes," the lawyer said.

In his words, "normal diplomatic negotiations take place between representatives of different countries on who votes for whom", Zalimas said, speaking about candidates as there were 17 of them this year.

"If Lithuania's representative votes, Lithuania makes a commitment, apparently, to vote somewhere else. There are lots of candidates at UN institutions, and such exchanges either succeed or fail", Zalimas said.

Zalimas served as justice of Lithuania's Constitutional Court since 2011 and presided over the court since 2014 until 2021 when his term expired.

The Lithuanian government approved Zalimas as the country's candidate for the UN Human Rights Committee for 2023-2026 in April.

The election to the UN Human Rights Committee was held to replace nine members whose term of office will expire at the end of this year.

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Lithuania's InterMin proposed extending state of emergency over Russia's war in Ukraine

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuania's Interior Ministry has proposed extending the existing state of emergency, declared in Lithuania in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, until September 15.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet will consider the ministry's proposal to impose the state of emergency in the entire territory of Lithuania from June 20 to until midnight of September 15, with the Seimas expected to make the final decision.

The state of emergency was introduced in the whole territory of Lithuania on February 24 in response to Russia's war in Ukraine. It is set to expire on June 29.

Drafted by the Interior Ministry, the resolution states that the state of emergency is imposed because of the unprecedented buildup of Russian and Belarusian forces carrying out military aggression against the neighboring state of Ukraine.

Russia's war in Ukraine has created a humanitarian and refugee crisis, and is also posing a threat to the security of NATO, the European Union and other European countries, including Lithuania, the document reads.

"Possible hybrid attacks and provocations of various kinds pose a threat to public security, and it cannot be eliminated without the proportionate restriction on the exercise of the rights and freedoms set out in the Constitution and the Law on a State of Emergency and without the application of specific emergency measures," the draft reads.

Under the draft resolution, the existing bans on the rebroadcasting of Russian and Belarusian TV programs in Lithuania, gatherings in support of Russia's war in Ukraine, and other restrictions would remain in force.

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Nigeria moves its embassy from Ukraine to Vilnius

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS - Nigeria has asked for permission to move its embassy from Kyiv to Lithuania because of Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday it had approved the proposal and the embassy received accreditation.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis met with Nigeria's Ambassador to Lithuania Shina Fatai Alege on Tuesday and discussed bilateral cooperation issues.

"We see Nigeria as a priority partner for bilateral cooperation in West Africa, especially in developing trade and business relations and opening up new markets for our entrepreneurs," Landsbergis said.

The meeting also touched upon the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the deepening food crisis in African countries.

The Lithuanian foreign minister briefed the a ambassador on an initiative to pool international effort to unblock the ports of Odessa and export Ukrainian grain stocks currently in storage, and subsequently export the new harvest.

Deputy Minister Mantas Adomenas invited Ambassador Alege to attend an event in Vilnius on July 7 when representatives of small democracies from all over the world will gather.

The vice-minister also thanked Nigeria for its consistent support for the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Ambassador Alege is Africa's first representative residing in Vilnius.

Nigeria is Lithuania's largest trading partner in Africa, with a bilateral trade turnover of almost 250 million euros.

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OSCE secgen talks Ukraine situation with Lithuanian leaders

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS - Helga Maria Schmid, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, paid a visit to Vilnius on Tuesday and discussed Russia's started war in Ukraine, the OSCE's operation in Ukraine and disinformation.

Schmid met with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen and Government Chancelor Giedre Balcytyte.

During the meeting with the president, Nauseda expressed Lithuania’s support for the OSCE secretary general’s efforts to resume and intensify the OSCE activities in Ukraine, stressing that the future of the OSCE will directly depend on the role it plays in helping to bring an end the war waged by the Russian Federation, the presidential press service said.

The Lithuanian president pointed out that Lithuania appreciated the independent expert report initiated under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022, and supported efforts to further investigate Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine.

"We hope that OSCE, as an international organization with the mission of strengthening security and reducing military confrontation, will not allow aggressors, who are destroying the security architecture of Europe and the entire world, to dictate the rules of the game,” the president said.

The meeting with the government chancellor focused on the resilience of democratic societies to disinformation and support for the OSCE secretary general's ambition to revive the organization and make it more proactive in dealing with crises in Europe, the government said.

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Lithuania seeks EU leaders' backing amid Russia's threats over transit restriction - BNS SPECIAL

VILNIUS, Jun 21, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda will seek to secure EU leaders' support amid Russia's threats to Lithuania over the recently-introduced restriction of the transit of some goods to the Russian region of Kaliningrad.

Asta Skaisgiryte, the president's chief foreign policy adviser, told BNS on Tuesday the president would raise the issue at the forthcoming European Council meeting later this week

"The president will raise this issue because it is a topical issue in our lives and because Russia has threatened Lithuania with a full range of retaliatory measures amid the implementation of EU sanctions," Skaisgiryte said. "In our opinion, it would be correct to say this is an EU matter - not Lithuania's, but the EU's - and that the EU is implementing the sanctions in solidarity."

This is important because Russia has targeted only Lithuania, even though the sanctions were unanimously imposed by 27 EU member states, the adviser said.

"We think it’s wrong to blame us for this. On the other hand, we understand that Russia is using the opportunity for propaganda," Skaisgiryte said.

Earlier in the day, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, warned Lithuania of "serious consequences" if it bans the transit of some goods by rail to the Russian region of Kaliningrad. He added that "appropriate measures are being prepared" and "will be taken in the near future".

For its part, Vilnius insists it has not imposed unilateral restrictions, stressing that they are part of the EU sanctions imposed as a result of the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, a position also shared by the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday night.

Lithuania also points out that land transit between Kaliningrad and Russia has not been suspended, adding that both the flow of passenger and non-sanctioned goods continues.

 

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