Central Europe Review Call forpolicy proposals...
Vol 3, No 17
14 May 2001
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Lithuanian news News from

All the important news
since 6 May 2001
Inga Pavlovaitė


Liberals turn to the left

The ruling coalition comprising Social Liberals (New Union) and Liberal Party may be experiencing its worst crisis so far, after news emerged this week that Liberal Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas has suggested increased cooperation with the opposition Social Democrats. Some say a coalition between Liberals and Social Democrats should not be ruled out either.

In the meantime, it appeared that Social Liberal leader Artūras Paulauskas and Social Democratic leader Algirdas Brazauskas are both visiting Berlin, where the alleged meetings between the two politicians have been reported. Both parties have denied arrangements for such meetings.


Search for health minister over?

Social Liberals seem finally to have resolved the impasse over the health minister's job after their first choice, Deputy Health Minister Eduardas Bartkevičius, was rejected. Now they have proposed Konstantinas Romualdas Dobrovolskis, the head of a radiology centre at Vilnius University Santariškės Hospital.

However, Dobrovolskis was accused in the press of having conflicting interests between his public job and his position as head of the pharmaceutical company Tomografija, which sells medical equipment.

But the public service ethics commission ruled that Dobrovolskis has not been using his public office for private purposes, because he is not a civil servant. President Valdas Adamkus was to meet Dobrovolskis last week and is likely to announce his decision soon.


Paksas asks President to veto law

Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas has for the first time since he took office asked President Valdas Adamkus to veto the changes in the law on value-added tax (VAT) that also envisages the VAT on ecological petrol trimmed from 18 percent to nine percent. According to the government, such changes will have a negative effect on budget revenues. It also argues the laws that directly influence the size of the budget should not be passed in the middle of the fiscal year without consulting the government.


Forests cut illegally on large scale

The state office for forests announced that this year around 10,000 cubic metres of wood have been unlawfully cut. About 8000 cubic metres of the illegal cuts have occurred in privately owned forests. The damage amounts to LTL (Lithuanian litas) 0.5 million (USD 125,000), and police have opened about 120 cases to punish the offenders.


Second World War victory celebrated

Around 2000 people gathered in Vilnius' Antakalnis Cemetery on 9 May to commemorate the day of victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. The cemetery has a memorial built for Soviet soldiers dating from the Soviet times. Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Kazakh ambassadors, and one of the leaders of the Social Democrats, Česlovas Juršenas, joined the crowd. Klaipėda also celebrated the day.


Savings bank to go on sale

TheSeimas' national security committee dismissed attempts by the Social Democrats to halt the sale of Lithuanian Savings Bank, citing reasons of national security. Social Democrats argued that according to the national security law, foreign capital cannot dominate financial markets.

After more than an hour's debate and questioning of bank officials, the state Property Fund, Privatisation Commission and other institutions, the committee decided that the sale did not contradict the national security law. It has also suggested that the government remove confusing language from the law.

Hansabank is buying Lithuania Savings Bank, where the controlling shares belong to Swedbank. The largest Lithuanian bank, Vilniaus Bankas, belongs to Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken. The two foreign banks have announced plans for a merger.


New head for state television

Formerly Market Minister in the Conservative government, Valentinas Milaknis, 53, has become the new director of Lithuanian radio and state television. Among ten candidates, Milaknis received 87 votes of 100. His greatest advantage seems to be extensive managerial experience, much needed in the crisis-ridden TV company which has debts in the millions.


Lithuanian culture comes to UK

When secondary schools in UK take part in exchange visits with schools in continental Europe, they normally visit France, Spain or even Germany. Not so at the Charlton School in Wellington, Telford, which arranged an exchange visit with a school in Lithuania.

A three-day and three-night coach journey brought students from the Karmelava Secondary School in Kaunas to Wellington where they stayed with local families. During their visit, the Kaunas group shared their enthusiasm for their country with their English counterparts during an evening celebration of Lithuanian culture and society.

A presentation of a hand-carved symbol of friendship between the two schools gave way to more dancing, it was difficult for anybody present to believe that they were not in Lithuania.


And in other news...

  • Legendary Lithuanian basketball player Arvydas Sabonis announced he would no longer play on the national basketball team.
  • Lietuvos Draudimas (Lithuanian Insurance), the country's biggest insurance company, announced LTL 5.9 million (about USD 1.48 million) pre-audit profits.
  • Biržu Akcine Pieno Bendrove (Birzai Milk Company) has been declared bankrupt with debts reaching LTL 76 million (USD 19 million), while it has assets worth only LTL 38 million (USD 9.5 million).
  • Press reports are that Michael Graham, head of the European Commission's representation in Lithuania, has hinted that the European Union expects Lithuania to announce its decision on the closure of Ignalina nuclear plant as soon as next year.
  • Three-day manoeuvres to prepare for peacekeeping operations of a joint Lithuanian-Polish battalion took place last week Thursday.
  • Kaunas hosted a sport dance festival, Gintariné pora 2001 (Amber Couple), over the weekend.
  • The Norwegian Embassy has presented an exhibition on modern Norwegian glass art at Vilnius art gallery.
  • The first heart transplant operation in Lithuania for a child, using a heart from a donor of similar age, has taken place at Santarikés Hospital in Vilnius.

Inga Pavlovaitė, 11 May 2001

Moving on:



Sam Vaknin
Slobo's Loot

Artur Nura
Tension in Macedonia

Beth Kampschror
Riots in Sarajevo

Koča Pavlović
Montenegro's Media

Kinoeye Focus:
Jan Němec

Ivana Košuličová
Němec Interviewed

Peter Hames
Enfant Terrible

Ivana Košuličová
Free Expression

Jan Němec & Miloš Fryš
Jméno kódu Rubín

Daniel Bird
Working with Krumbachová

Michael J Kopanic Jr
Tales from Slavic Myths Reviewed

Štěpán Kotrba
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Czech Republic

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