Politics and foreign affairs
In a televised address, President Valdas Adamkus heavily criticised the ruling Conservatives for a myriad of ongoing problems. Adamkus focused on the deteriorating relations with Russia, accusing the Conservatives of using the issue for the general election campaign (to be held in October) and suggesting the Seimas is showing "indifference" to the plight of the common man. Adamkus also criticised the country's economic situation and the slow pace of recovery, saying this has led to massive crises in arrears with municipalities, farms and others. Finally, Adamkus also called for a civilised election campaign based on political programmes and ideas not emotions and rhetoric.
The President's speech was praised by the opposition but was slammed by the Conservatives. The opposition LDDP called the speech "overdue," while Conservatives accused the President of becoming involved in the election campaign on behalf of his former benefactors, the Centre Union.
The tension between the President and the ruling Conservatives continued, as President Adamkus chose not to sign two controversial pieces of legislation, athough they were signed by the parliamentary leadership. The first bill concerns giving a presidential pension to the chairman of the Supreme Council, which restored Lithuania's independence, who just happens to be the current Seimas Chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis. The deputy chairman of the Seimas, Arvydas Vidžiūnas, signed the bill into law as acting parliamentary head, while Landsbergis happened to be abroad, marking the first time ever a bill became law without signatures from the President or the official chairman of Parliament.
The second and more controversial of the two bills involved the demand for compensation from Moscow for the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. Vytautas Landsbergis himself signed this into law, when he returned to Lithuania. The issue has sparked angry condemnation from Moscow and has led to a tit-for-tat battle between Moscow and Vilnius. Landsbergis said the law "enshrines legally" the independence of Lithuania "to the maximum [ degree]."
Just as the trial of accused war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis began again, it was halted due to the hospitalisation of the defendant. Using video-conferencing equipment, Lileikis began answering basic questions at a slow and confused pace, before medics halted the session. The judge issued a continuance, but Lileikis was hospitalised soon after. At this point, the trial is scheduled to restart on 3 July.
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The Seimas passed a law on lobbying, placing restrictions and requirements on lobbyists at the Parliament. The law requires the registration of all paid lobbyists and prohibits former government and parliamentary officials from lobbying within a year of them leaving office.
Due to what is seen as a personal row, MP Zygmuntas Mackevičius has left the Conservatives - both the party and the faction. This comes as the number in the Conservative faction in the Seimas dropped to far below the original amount, all but making the current government a minority government.
Vilnius City filed suit against the government for debts it claims from the national treasury. The city claims that between 1997 and 1999 it failed to get LTL (Lithuanian litas) 99.4 million and that so far this year it has not received LTL 19.8 million. Vilnius did agree to a debt payment schedule for its own debts to the national treasury.
The Seimas approved treaties on the prevention of double taxation with both Russia and the Netherlands.
Economics and business
French company Dalkia voiced disappointment after the Finance Ministry informed it that it will not provide any financing for the renewal of regional heating utility Kauno Energija (Kaunas Energy). Dalkia, looking to lease the company for 15 years, has called the position "disappointing" and "annoying." Dalkia came into the picture when Sweden's Vattenfall pulled out of a similar deal over pricing issues.
However, later in the week, Dalkia said it was ready to lease the company for ten to 20 years and has informed Kaunas officials.
Lithuania has placed anti-dumping tariffs on two Latvian match producers - Komēta of Rīga and Liepājas Sērkociņi. The tariffs could be as high as 23.5 per cent and 7.4 per cent, respectively. Both Latvian companies denied the dumping allegations.
Lithuania's Q1 current account deficit was LTL 278 million, or about three per cent of GDP.
The shares of Lietuvos Telekomas (Lithuanian Telecom) continue to sag, dropping to as low as LTL 2.70 a share, even lower than the already low IPO price of LTL 3.15 weeks ago.
Social and local interest
Controversy over the social insurance fund SoDra continues, despite the audit of the fund ordered by Labour Minister Irena Degutienė. Now it has been revealed that the former head of SoDra, Vincas Kunca, who left the fund due to its poor debt situation, is currently working as a high-ranking official in the Labour Ministry in charge of, you guessed it, SoDra. The government has launched an investigation into how this came about.
Lithuanian farmers also began the summer protest season by halting milk sales to dairies. The move is supported by the centrist and left-wing opposition parties as well as by the influential Farmers' Party.
The head of the company that printed a calendar which ignited "ethnic tensions" was fined LTL 1000. The calendar in question showed the Belarusian, Polish and Russian territories as "occupied" Lithuanian lands. The publisher said it was educational and that there are plans to publish a similar calendar in the future.
And in other news...
Lithuania was ranked 52nd in the UN Human Development Report, rising from 62nd last year.
The Lithuanian frigate, the Linkuva, is all but presumed lost in the Pacific Ocean. The US Coast Guard abandoned its search after finding several containers and two abandoned life rafts from the Linkuva. All 18 hands on board the frigate, caught by a hurricane when its engines failed, are feared lost, though Lithuanian officials have asked the US Coast Guard to continue the search.
As of 30 June 2000
|Currency||Lithuanian lita (LTL)
|1 US dollar||4.00|
|1 British pound||6.04|
|1 German mark||1.96|
Mel Huang, 30 June 2000
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