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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, July 5, 2022

Jul 08 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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