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Lithuanian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-09-12 12:19:26
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Russia seeks investigation of Lithuanian Red Army deserter

Russia has asked Lithuania to help investigate an individual who refused to serve in the Soviet army in the early 1990s, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office said Monday. The request suggests that Russia is reopening criminal investigations against Lithuanian residents who refused to serve in the Soviet army after Lithuania declared its independence in 1990, before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The request concerned one Lithuanian citizen who had left the Soviet army, said Elena Martinoniene; head of communications at the Lithuanian prosecutor general's office. She said the office would analyze the appeal before making a decision, but noted that similar requests filed by Russia some 10 years ago were rejected because the activities listed as illegal by Russia weren't considered to be crimes in Lithuania. A spokesman for the Russian prosecutor general's office declined to comment.

Some Lithuanians faced persecution by Soviet authorities, including criminal charges, after leaving the army in the wake of Lithuania's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. The Lithuanian State Security Department said it strongly advised Lithuanians who withdrew from the Soviet army in the early 1990s to refrain from travelling to Russia, Belarus or other countries outside the European Union or North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Travel to such countries may threaten personal security, it said.


Lithuania's Tripartite Council Okays minimum pay increase to EUR 300

The Tripartite Council in Lithuania endorsed the ruling coalition's proposal to increase the minimum monthly wage by LTL 35 (EUR 10) from October 1, 2014. Social partners will submit the minimum wage increase proposal to the Government's consideration.

If the minimum monthly pay is pushed up, it will amount to LTL 1,035 (EUR 300).

The last time the minimum monthly wage was raised to reach LTL 1,000 (EUR 290) was in December of 2012.


Dalia Grybauskaite, the ‘Iron Lady’ of Lithuania, vows to ‘take up arms’ should Russia strike

Meet Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s President. The 58-year-old has a black belt in karate and refuses to be pushed around by Putin. So much so that she has vowed to “take up arms” herself in the unlikely case Russia would attack her country. Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s first female president and the first to be re-elected, pulls no punches. During an interview with German news magazine Focus in June she said of Putin: “(He) uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That’s exactly what Stalin and Hitler did.”

Grybauskaite, Glamour magazine’s 2010 Woman of the Year, also said Russia and Putin were “characterised by aggressiveness, violence, and a willingness to overstep boundaries.” Last month at an EU summit in Brussels she sharply warned Russia was practically at war with Europe and urged tougher sanctions against Moscow. “Russia is at war against Ukraine and that is against a country which wants to be part of Europe. Russia is practically in war against Europe,” she said. Like others in the region, Grybauskaite called on NATO to put permanent boots on the ground in the Baltics to ward off any potential threat from their Soviet-era master. Her tough stance against Moscow has led to her being dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ of Lithuania.

While Grybauskaite’s place would be in Parliament in the event of a crisis, her willingness to take up arms has no doubt encouraged others to follow suit. Russia’s takeover of Crimea and increasing signs of its involvement in Ukraine’s east, coupled with sabre rattling in its Kaliningrad exclave bordering Lithuania, are sparking a sharp rise in paramilitary recruits. In thick pine forests hidden in the remote wilderness of eastern Lithuania, young professionals are ditching their suits and ties for camouflage gear, and swapping iPads for rifles. These weekend warriors also proudly wear bracelets with emblems of green fir trees on their wrists, symbols of their small Baltic country’s wartime resistance against the Soviet Union, which occupied it in 1940.

Students, businessmen, civil servants, journalists and even politicians are among the hundreds who have joined the government-sponsored Lithuania Riflemen’s Union, a group first set up in 1919 but banned in 1940 under Soviet rule. “The Vilnius unit has tripled in size since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine,” says Mindaugas Balciauskas, unit commander of the group which boasts about 7000 members in the nation of three million, a number almost on par with its 7000 military personnel and 4200 reservists. “Being in a paramilitary unit will give me privileged access to information and make me better prepared than those who don’t join,” Arturas Bortkevicius, a 37-year-old finance specialist told AFP, adding that he wants to learn the skills he needs to defend his country and family. Members spend weekends on manoeuvres deep in the woods or at a military training range in Pabrade, north of the capital Vilnius. Even some Lithuanians with Russian roots have joined up amid the Ukraine crisis. “I’m a Lithuanian citizen of Russian origin. I am who I am, and I am Lithuanian patriot,” photographer Vladimiras Ivanovas, 40, who also joined up.

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