Vol 1, No 23
29 November 1999
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N N E W S:
News Review for Lithuania
All the important news from Lithuania
since 20 November 1999
Politics and Foreign Affairs
The Seimas passed yet another lustration law, which will require the registration of all "collaborators" with Soviet security forces during the occupation. Supporters say this will help prevent attempts to blackmail collaborators. The government will keep the names in a secret database, but will reveal names of those on the list who are, or become, high-ranking government officials. Opponents blasted the law. The vote was 57 to 6, with many opposition MPs abstaining or not voting. This follows the lustration law from earlier this year that banned former KGB operatives from working in a variety of fields in the public and private sector.
Finance Minister Vytautas Dudenas said that the budget for the year 2000 will have a 6.5 per cent fiscal deficit, which greatly exceeds the IMF recommendations of 2 per cent, but is much lower than analysts predicted - due to financial burdens from the dodgy deal for Mazeikiai Oil by US-based Williams International. The budget debate within the government is continuing.
Former Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas is all but set to join forces with the Liberal Union of Klaipeda Mayor Eugenijus Gentvilas. The pair announced that a new movement will be introduced sometime in December. Paksas remains the most popular politician in Lithuania, especially following his resignation over the dodgy deal for Mazeikiai Oil by US-based Williams International.
Russian Transport Minister Sergei Frank is in Vilnius to discuss the agenda for President Valdas Adamkus' upcoming trip to Moscow. Several bilateral agreements are to be signed on the visit. However, local politicians are worried that Adamkus will be drawn into the Chechnya situation and the Duma elections campaign.
Over 800 Italian troops are taking part in war games in Lithuania, alongside 30 Lithuanian troops.
The Lithuanian Army celebrated its 81st anniversary on 23 November. A military parade was held, while President Adamkus and Army Commander Brigadier General Jonas Kronkaitis reviewed the troops.
Economics and Business
Lithuania's TV3 increased its hold on the country's audience with a 44 per cent stake of the viewing market. However, at the same time, advertising revenues dropped by 31 per cent. The Swedish owners of the many TV3 companies in the Baltic and Scandinavia regions said the Russian crisis has been the culprit in the falling revenues.
Social and Local Interest
The public has spoken again via the Vilmorus polling agency. A huge 87.5 per cent of respondents said there was a financial crisis in the country, and 29.2 per cent of those surveyed blamed the ruling Conservative Party and their majority in the Seimas. Another 21.1 per cent pointed their fingers directly at the government of ex-Premier Gediminas Vagnorius, while only 14.5 per cent linked the dodgy deal for Mazeikiai Oil by US-based Williams International as the main reason. However, 15.1 per cent did find the Russian economic crisis as the blame for Lithuania's financial woes. In a sad turn, it seems that the younger generations find the problems worse than the older generation.
Lithuania's aid to Turkey for earthquake relief will be mainly in the form of sleeping bags and blankets. Earlier, the Seimas had earmarked LTL 150,000 for the purpose.
Mel Huang, 24 November 1999
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