Week in Lithuania: Democrats For Lithuania exit defence pact, MPs outlaw animal farms

Week in Lithuania: Democrats For Lithuania exit defence pact, MPs outlaw animal farms

Last week, MPs received threatening emails in Russian; President urged Ukraine, Poland to resolve spat

Lithuania reports 304 new COVID-19 cases

Lithuania recorded 304 new coronavirus infections and no deaths from COVID-19 over Thursday, the 21st of September, the country’s public health authority, NVSC, reported on Friday, the 22nd of September. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals stands at 47, including three ICU cases. Around 1.19 million people in Lithuania have tested positive for COVID-19 at least once. Some 68.5% of people in the country have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far, according to the statistics.

Foreign minister urges greater support for Belarus democratic forces

Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called on the international community on Thursday, the 21st of September, to step up its assistance to democratic forces in Belarus. Landsbergis took part in an UN General Assembly side event in New York this week entitled The Threat to Belarus’ Independence and the International Response, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Friday, the 22nd of September. Landsbergis underlined the importance of sanctions in ensuring the end of the impunity of authoritarian regimes.

Democrats For Lithuania exit defence pact

Lithuania’s opposition Democrats For Lithuania announced on Thursday, the 21st of September, their decision pull out of the parliamentary parties’ defence agreement after the parliament gave its initial backing to the merger of the Public Security Service with the police. The Democrats say they slam what they call the systematic weakening of Lithuania’s security by the interior minister and the government as a whole. The party claims that the ruling coalition’s actions in the Seimas are cannibalising the Public Security Service (PSS), publicly humiliating the abilities of its staff and pushing bulldozing plans to close down the chief police commissariats in Alytus, Marijampole, Utena, Tauragė and Telšiai and show their attitude towards the country’s security. The PSS reform is facing criticism not only from the opposition, but also from some members of the ruling block.

Seimas MPs outlaw animal farms

Lithuanian lawmakers on Thursday, the 21st of September, adopted a law banning fur farms in the country from 2027 after 68 of them voted in favour of the proposed amendments to the Law on Welfare and Protection of Animals, 25 voted against and 15 abstained. The law, among other this, bans fur animal farms. Their owners will be compensated, but the size of such compensation has been the subject of complaints from the business community. We have reached the level of maturity not to continue with activities that cause pain, Ieva Pakarklytė of the Freedom Party, part of the ruling block, said before the vote, pointing out that the biggest demand for fur is in Russia and China. The ban will come into force in 2027 after a transitional period from 2024 to 2026 when fur farmers will be able to close their farms and receive compensation. Lithuania becomes the 20th country in Europe to ban this type of business. The law has yet to be signed by President Gitanas Nausėda.

President urges Ukraine, Poland to resolve disagreements

Kyiv and Warsaw must resolve their disagreements as swiftly as possible, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Thursday, the 21st of September, as he met with his Ukrainian and Polish counterparts in New York. “For the sake of the common, most important goal – defending Europe from Russia’s aggressive, expansionist policy – the disagreements between Ukraine and Poland should be resolved as swiftly as possible,” Nausėda said through his office. The Lithuanian president emphasised that Poland’s place in providing support to Ukraine is exceptional and that solutions must be found to avoid further deepening of the crisis. Amid the mounting row, Morawiecki said on Wednesday, the 2oth of September, that Poland was no longer supplying weapons to Ukraine, as it wanted to arm itself.

Next US Army rotation begins service in Lithuania

The next rotation of the US Army started its service in Lithuania on Wednesday, the 20th of September. The incoming rotation is formed by the Hounds of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment (3-67) and the Battle Kings, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery (1-9), the Lithuanian Defence Ministry said in a press release. The American troops have brought M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, ATVs and other necessary military equipment to Lithuania, it said.

MPs receive threatening emails in Russian

Some members of the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, on Wednesday, the 20th of September, received threatening emails in the Russian language on behalf of the Belarusian Terror Battalion, a military formation of Belarusian volunteers fighting against the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the Ukrainian side, and the authorities have been informed about them, the delfi.lt news website reported. Some lawmakers were sent emails mentioning “Olga Karach” in their subject line, referring to the Migration Department’s decision not to grant her asylum on the basis of the State Security Department’s report stating that she poses a threat to national security.  Last month, Lithuania’s Migration Department decided not to grant Karach asylum based on the State Security Department’s conclusion that her residence in the country posed a threat to national security due to her links with Russian intelligence.

Fintech firm Benker launches operations in Lithuania

Benker, a European blockchain-based financial institution, has launched operations in Lithuania. Viktor Bodnar, Benker’s CEO and shareholder, said on Tuesday, the 19th of September, the company’s technology to serve as a catalyst for transformation in the financial sector. Benker is rolling out financial services for Android users this week, with plans to introduce payment cards, accounts, currency exchange, and more in the future. The company says it has over 7 000 pre-registered potential users. Benker obtained its e-money institution license from the Bank of Lithuania last year. It also has plans to offer its services in Estonia and other European countries.

MPs vote down proposal to grant state recognition to neo-pagans

The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, the 19th of September, voted down a proposal to grant state recognition to Romuva, a religious association that says it practices an ancient Baltic pagan faith. The proposal to grant recognition to Romuva failed to pass the second reading with 48 MPs voting in favour, 31 voting against and 30 abstaining, and was finally rejected in a further vote on whether or not to send the draft resolution to the lead committee for improving. Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, chairman of the Seimas Committee on Human Rights, said he would table an alternative draft resolution during the Seimas’ evening session so that the parliament could formally refuse to grant this recognition. During Tuesday’s debate, MP Rita Tamašiūnienė of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania-Christian Families Alliance said that while she appreciates Romuva’s nurturing of ethnic culture, she cannot agree to it being treated as a religion.

Lithuania discusses pope’s Russia remarks with Vatican envoy

Deputy Foreign Minister Jovita Neliupšienė met with the Vatican’s envoy to Lithuania in early September to discuss Pope Francis’ recent high-profile remarks about Russia, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, the 19th of September, but both sides gave no details about the meeting. The meeting was originally scheduled for the 6th of September. The ministry said on that day that the meeting had been postponed due to the nuncio’s holiday, but it did not announce a new date. Francis said in a video speech to young Catholics in St. Petersburg, “You are the heirs of the great Russia: the great Russia of saints, of kings, the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II, of that great, enlightened Russian empire, of great culture and great humanity”. Kyiv accused the pontiff of spreading “imperial propaganda”.

Seimas sets up MP impeachment commission

The Lithuanian parliament on Monday, the 18th of September, established a temporary commission to look into whether there are grounds for launching impeachment proceedings against Žemaitaitis, a non-attached MP, for his anti-Semitic posts and statements. The motion to set up the commission was backed by 70 MPs, most from the ruling coalition parties and six from the opposition. The impeachment text quotes Žemaitaitis’ social media posts, such as “It turns out that, besides Putin, another animal has emerged in the world – Israel” or “We, the Lithuanian nation, must never forget the Jews and the Russians who very actively contributed to the destruction of our people!”, and others.  Žemaitaitis insists that there is no basis for his impeachment. He denies any anti-Semitic content in his posts and says that all his statements can be substantiated with international documents or historical sources.

Week in Lithuania: Democrats For Lithuania exit defence pact, MPs outlaw animal farms

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top