LRT English Newsletter – September 3, 2021.
Over 70 percent of adults in Lithuania have now got the coronavirus jab. Great. Now what? Still a long way to go, according to the government, which has raised alarm over spiking infection rates. Deaths are also again on the increase.
Some nine months after the roll-out of the vaccination campaign, the country plans to begin offering booster shots, starting with the most vulnerable. Meanwhile, 24 fully vaccinated people have died in Lithuania, although they had serious underlying conditions and were of advanced age.
Turning around from his previous criticism of “going over the top” with the current vaccination campaign, the president has called on people to get the jab and backed compulsory inoculation for some professions.
NO PERMIT NO PROBLEM
Two rallies with two very different agendas are set to take place this month. First, the Kaunas Pride march will take place on Saturday. The organisers’ battle with the local authorities when it saw the rally permit denied, but the court ruled against the municipality. Days before the event, Kaunas authorities appealed the decision, leaving the whole process in limbo. The march will proceed despite attempts to silence the community, organisers said, adding that discussions with police on how to protect the participants were already ongoing.
Later, on September 10, a second anti-vaccination rally is due to take place in front of the Seimas. Vilnius Municipality, however, has also revoked the permission in wake of the earlier protest that descended into a violent rally on August 10. The organisers say the demonstration will proceed nevertheless.
The country’s intelligence agency has warned that potential for violence is high.
GETTING WET AND COLD
Conditions in Lithuania’s migrant camps have been deteriorating as the summer warmth recedes. “I think we are still in Iraq,” said an asylum seeker. Others said they feel like they are caught in a cage in what the Council of Europe previously described as de facto detention. Lithuania’s civil society has also issued a joint statement, decrying the “mass detention of migrants [and] pushbacks”.
The authorities have promised to improve conditions and move families and the vulnerable to purpose-built modular housing units. Some migrants will also be housed in an area of Vilnius.
Amid similar scenes in Latvia and Poland, Lithuania’s border officials say there are several groups of migrants stuck on the border. Access to the press is still being denied.
A recent poll showed that the majority of respondents supported building a fence to stem irregular migration. One firefighter involved in building the barrier has died under tragic and unfortunate circumstances.
NO PRO-PUTIN POP
Lithuania’s top court has put a full stop to the story surrounding Russia’s pop darling Phillipp Kirkorov, saying that the travel ban against him is valid. Lithuania declared him persona non grata for his overt support for Russia’s regime and the annexation of Crimea.
– During a 10-day mission, ten Lithuanian soldiers and one diplomat – the so-called Kabul 11 – transported over 170 Afghan nationals out of the country. Major Gintautas Ciunis was one of them. Read his account from the mission here.
– A school rebuilt "from ashes of war" and provided with modern equipment by Lithuania was opened in the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka on Wednesday, the Lithuanian government said.
– Lithuania has marked the 28th anniversary since Russia completed the pull-out of its troops from the country's territory following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
– Viktoras Ševaldinas was the chief of Lithuania’s sole nuclear plant for 30 years. Having survived financial and political crises, in interview with LRT.lt he says the biggest challenge now is the safe decommissioning of the Chernobyl-type reactors.
– Lithuania opened a military training camp for US troops in Pabradė on Monday. Politicians say it should help the country get more attention from Washington.
– How did Italian baroque reach Lithuania in the 17th century? Read on.
– Zapad 2021 update: nobody needs the Baltic states, says Lukashenko
– And the minimum wage is set to jump.
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Written by Benas Gerdžiūnas
Edited by Justinas Šuliokas