LRT English Newsletter – July 30, 2021
Lithuania’s authorities are struggling to find places to accommodate over 3,000 irregular migrants that have walked across the country’s border so far. A plan to house 500 of them in Dieveniškės, itself a small town of some 600 people, was met with resistance from the locals, some of whom blocked roads and held vigils. The government relented.
Another potential site for temporary accommodation is a government-controlled military training ground near Rūdninkai. A group of aggressive anti-migrant protesters scuffled with the police this week when they tried to block access to the site and even broke into the compound. The police have now opened a riot investigation into the incident.
But the anti-migrant fears and protests might be stoked by provocateurs, a deputy chief of police has suggested. Organisers of the Rūdninkai scuffles have been linked to the controversial anti-LGBTQ ‘Family Defence March’ last May and various protests against vaccination and pandemic restrictions.
To reassure local residents, the government has promised ample policing, with even the military involved in protecting migrant centres.
HOW TO GET ‘EM VACCINATED
Lithuania has so far vaccinated about a half of the population – and getting the other half jabbed seems a challenge. Authorities are expanding the list of workers subject to mandatory testing and are even considering a law that would allow employers to suspend those employees who refuse to get vaccinated.
Moreover, come autumn, cafes and shops may only be accessible to people with immunity, the economy minister has suggested.
As daily infection numbers keep growing, the government has decided that new restrictions would be triggered by signs that the healthcare system is getting overstretched – when the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations reaches 300. At the moment, official statistics put the number of active cases at 2,348, of which 136 are treated at Lithuania’s hospitals.
The recent US–German deal greenlighting the conclusion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea has sent shivers across the region. This is a major victory for Vladimir Putin, Lithuania’s foreign minister has commented.
Our partners at DW outline why Eastern Europeans and Balts are suspicious of the project and see it as a leverage for Moscow to bully its neighbours.
The lack of attention Lithuania pays to the sexual health of its citizens – especially younger ones – was driven home this week when the media reported about a 13-year-old girl who went into labour at a summer camp. Neither the camp leaders nor her parents had even been aware she was pregnant.
Lithuania’s plans of solving its current migrant crisis with a border fence got an early reality check when it turned out the country isn’t stocking nearly enough barbed wire. Some neighbours – such as Estonia – have promised to send some concertina wire, but it will hardly make up for the shortfall.
Meanwhile, officials in Brussels have said that while the EU is ready to assist Lithuania in dealing with the migrants, it will not fund a border wall.
– The regime of Alexander Lukashenko is entering the grey zone between war and peace by weaponising civil aviation and migration against Lithuania. Elisabeth Braw, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), writes for LRT English.
– Rebaz from Iraqi Kurdistan came to Lithuania and asked for asylum five years ago. Now he runs two restaurants and assists migration authorities as an interpreter. He has told LRT RADIO about his trip to Lithuania.
– How about a serving of crickets as a snack? A Lithuanian couple has set up a cricket farm, offering unconventional delicacies and even cricket flour.
– Ten questions answered about Lithuania’s migrant challenge, its border protection and what can be done about it.
– A man working for the Belarusian air traffic control has allegedly gone missing together with his family, independent Belarusian media Nasha Niva has reported. He is reportedly the one who communicated with the pilots of the notorious Ryanair plane that got diverted to Minsk last May.
Would you like to contribute to LRT English? Please send your suggestions, submissions, and pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Justinas Šuliokas
Edited by Benas Gerdžiūnas