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Vol 3, No 2
15 January 2001
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News from

All the important news
since 6 January 2001

Inga Pavlovaitė


Lithuania promotes arts in Paris

Some fifteen minutes of enthusiastic applause marked the conclusion of the performance by the Lithuanian National Symphony and Kaunas State Chorus, conducted by the world-renowned Mstislav Rostropovich, heard in the heart of Paris at the Théātre des Champs-Elysées.

Under the auspices of, and attended by, President Valdas Adamkus as part of his French visit, the performance of the symphonic "In the Forest" by Lithuania's Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis and the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven was seen as an introductory campaign of Lithuania's arts to the Paris cultural scene.

The well-known name of Rostropovich, a long-time friend of Lithuania, ensured some 1600 people in attendance to listen to the work by Čiurlionis, who is not well known outside of Lithuania. The concert was held in concurrence with an art exhibit of works by Čiurlionis at the Musée d'Orsay, which was also exhibited in Grenoble.


IMF to sign memorandum

The IMF executive board this past week approved the annual memorandum on economic policy with the Lithuanian government. According to the memorandum, the cabinet of Rolandas Paksas pledges to pursue tight fiscal policy, capping the budget deficit at LTL (Lithuanian litas) 691 million (USD 172,793,198)—equivalent to about 1.4 per cent of GDP.

In the first quarter, the budget deficit should not exceed LTL 271 million. Among other obligations are the retention of the dollar peg, the retention of the eight per cent compulsory reserves for commercial banks and the payment of all delayed credit commitments made by the government—in effect taking on all the obligations made by the previous Conservative government of Andrius Kubilius.


More troubles at SoDra

The past week was disastrous for the state social insurance fund SoDra. To begin with, the head of the SoDra office in Vilnius, Voldemaras Vitkus, was charged with negligence by the tax police.

The case surfaced when he allegedly halted cases against some companies that have payment arrears and also failed to penalise the directors of such companies. As a result, estimated damges of about LTL 128,000 were caused by the alleged negligence. This estimate was based on the minimal penalties withheld.

In his defence, Vitkus responded that he was trying not to ruin those businesses since many of the penalised companies would go under, thus avoiding taxes or penalties.

More importantly, the director of SoDra, Aidas Pikiotas, resigned this past week after hearing suggestions in the press that Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas was discontent with his work. The troubles for SoDra began when audit results were published at the end of last year indicating many inefficiencies and errors in its system.


Bootlegged funding?

Romualdas Senovaitis, head of the Kaunas Police, urged various state institutions to allow the police to sell confiscated contraband, such as bootlegged alcohol and smuggled cigarettes. According to government regulations, all such seized contraband must be destroyed.

The argument put forth by the police is purely financial, as they argue that in times of economic hardship such as now, it seems foolish to waste money and resources on something that could, in effect, help boost the under-funded system.

For example, the destruction of 280 litres of illegal spirits cost the state about LTL one million. In another case, the police in Klaipėda were obliged to destroy illegal cigarettes worth LTL five million. One case in Kaunas brought a haul of cigarettes worth some LTL one million, which the police now have to store and guard.


Ministerial merger completed

Interior Ministry officials announced this week that the absorption of the Administrative Reform and Local Government Affairs Ministry has been fully implemented. All 90 employees of the absorbed ministry were made redundant, though some of them, about 60 to 70, have since been hired by the Interior Ministry. The buildings that used to house the absorbed ministry were handed over to the Interior Ministry as well.


Changes in the Internet market

Lietuvos Telekomas has started to offer a fixed monthly fee of LTL 99 (just under USD 25) for Internet dial-up connections, causing an uproar in the information technology market. For their part, consumers flocked into the offices of Telekomas, creating queues and delays.

Competitors have publicly declared their inability to compete with the telecommunications monopoly, especially in light of increased local phone call charges. Other Internet providers see negotiations with Telekomas as the only way to more favourable conditions and, in case of failure, an appeal to industry regulators.

Telekomas claims to have about 50,000 users, whereas the nearest competitor, Omnitel, provides services to about 17,000 customers. Government officials have expressed reluctance to interfere in the market.


And in other news...

  • A cocktail party record has been reached in Vilnius, with about 4,200 people partying at a celebration organised by the one of the largest companies of the country, Vilniaus Prekyba.
  • Lithuania will sell its Expo 2000 pavilion for LTL 100,000, which is 100 times cheaper than what it cost. The low price is due to the yearlong disputes on the future of the pavilion and the very bad timing of the sale.
  • The new year started with a break into the Lietuvos Telekomas computer network, which resulted in its users getting a virus through e-mail.
  • On 1 January, the level of unemployment reached 12.6 per cent, the highest since the restoration of independence, government sources reported this week.
  • Bank accounts of daily Lietuvos Aidas have been seized by a court due to debts mounting to almost LTL 2.4 million.

Inga Pavlovaitė, 12 January 2001

Moving on:


Lietuvos Rytas
Lietuvos Aidas
Baltic News Service (BNS)
Kauno Diena


Sam Vaknin
Women in Transition

Mel Huang
Gerrymandering in Estonia

Elena Gapova
Do Czechs Need Feminism?

Brian J Požun
Orthodox Christmas

Bernhard Seliger
Change in Germany

GusztĆv KosztolĆnyi
The King is Dead

Eva Sobotka
Schooling the Roma

Alex Smailes
Traveling the Caucasus

Konstantin Vulkov
Bulgaria's New Left

Radoslavova Branimira
European Defense

Czech TV Crisis
Jan ÄulĆk
Public TV Dies

Anna-Britt Kaca
Prelude to a Crisis

Nukes in Kaliningrad
Joanna Rohozińska
The Bear Awakens

Mel Huang
Nuclear Neighbourhood

Rob Stout
Lenin: A Biography

Andrea Mrozek
The Meaning of Liberalism

ÅtÄ›pĆn Kotrba NEW!
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

GusztĆv KosztolĆnyi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Andrea Mrozek
Germany: Playful Politicians

Oliver Craske
UK: Depleted Coverage

Roma NEW!

Mixed Nuts

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