Week in Lithuania: Tightens citizenship procedures, Lithuanian brand used in Russia without permission

Linas Jegelevičus
In Lithuania, this week has been marked by accusations of various wrongdoings, but there is also good news – it is possible to look at the economic forecasts with a positive outlook.
Lithuania reports 296 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death over Thursday
 Lithuania recorded 296 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the National Centre of Public Health announced on Friday, the 3rd of February. Of the new cases, 196 were primary, 85 were secondary and 14 were tertiary. The number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 now stands at 131, including six ICU cases. The 14-day primary infection rate has edged up to 128.1 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests up to 21 percent.
Court will not deliberate Rosneft’s lawsuit
A Lithuanian court turned down a case in which Russian oil group Rosneft sought restitution for real estate transactions of Mogita, a Kaunas-based oil wholesaler undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. Rosneft had asked the court to annul the sale and purchase agreements signed in 2019 between Mogita and two natural persons regarding a warehouse in Kaunas and a land plot in Vilnius District as it sought to this way recover a debt of 190,000 euros from Mogita. On the 23rd of January, the Kaunas Regional Court ruled that the legal assistance provided to the Russian company during the proceedings would harm Lithuania’s security and sovereignty. The court pointed out that Rosneft is directly controlled by the Russian government and in the context of the war in Ukraine assistance to Russia would run counter to the European Union and Lithuania’s values.
Audimas says its brands used in Russia without authorization
Audimas, Lithuania’s leisure and sportswear producer, has no business or assets in Russia, and its brands are used in Moscow stores without authorization, Lina Šlegerienė, the company’s CEO, said on Thursday, the 2nd of February. Photos taken by the company’s lawyers show that Audimas-branded stores in the Russian capital are selling items from its 2015-2017 collections with old logos, according to the CEO. In Šlegerienė’s words, Audimas ceased operations in Russia in 2017, and its products were supplied to stores in Moscow by a single wholesaler until 2022. The last time Audimas’ products were delivered to Russia was in December 2021, she said.
Some candidates registered despite hidden links to KGB
Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) on Thursday registered candidates for mayors and municipal councilors without receiving information about former collaborators with Soviet secret services, CEC Chairwoman Jolanta Petkevičienė said. In her words,  Lithuania’s Genocide and Resistance Research Center (LGGRTC) had admitted that some of the candidates had concealed their former links with the KGB, but refused to provide their names. The CEC back on the 4th of January asked the LGGRTC for information about persons who had in the past collaborated with former Soviet special services.
Jewish community turns to minister over party member’s insulting words
The Jewish Community of Lithuania turned to the country’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of the ruling conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, over the words of the party’s member, the elder of the town of Nemakščiai in the western district of Raseiniai, which it considers to be anti-Semitic. The appeal comes in response to a report of a local publication on Remigijus Laugalis’ statement during a meeting with voters when he said: «Those who will not vote for me will get buried at the Jewish cemetery». The Jewish community said in its statement that Laugalis, who is running for the Raseiniai District Council with the incumbent mayor and HU-LCD member Andrius Bautronis, humiliated «the town and demonstrated his lack of knowledge about the history of his region».
Finance Minister cautiously optimistic about economic forecasts
Lithuanian Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė told Žinių radijas on Thursday, the 2nd of February, that both the European and Lithuanian economies to remain on the path of growth this year, adding that she’s cautiously optimistic about economic forecasts.  Lithuania’s economy expanded by 2,2 percent in 2022, and the Finance Ministry expects it to grow by 0,7 percent this year.
Government tightens citizenship procedures
The Lithuanian government has tightened the existing citizenship procedures and shortened the deadline for submitting documents for dual citizenship. Interior Vice Minister Arnoldas Abramavičius said that the amendments are aimed at making the procedures for loss of citizenship more efficient. The changes will speed up decisions on the loss of Lithuanian citizenship in cases where a person acquires citizenship of another state, the Interior Ministry said. The deadline for submitting documents to prove that a Lithuanian citizen who has acquired citizenship of another state is entitled to multiple citizenship has been shortened from six to three months. The Ministry says the changes are aimed at preventing prevent persons who are not entitled to both Lithuanian citizenship and citizenship of another country from enjoying the benefits of a Lithuanian passport and a passport of another state at the same time.
Former MP suspected of sexually abusing four minors
Kristijonas Bartoševičius is suspected of sexually abusing four minors while he served as a member of the Lithuanian parliament, the Prosecutor General’s Office said on Wednesday, the 1st of February. Prosecutors have brought formal suspicions against the man as part of their investigation under the Criminal Code’s articles concerning sexual assault on a minor and a young child, and sexual molestation of a child. Bartoševičius, who has recently resigned as MP, has been questioned, according to the press release. The prosecutors would not comment on the suspect’s position during the questioning. Bartoševičius has previously denied the allegations against him. The former parliamentarian is banned from leaving Lithuania and from communicating with the victims and has had his documents taken.
Ministry sees ‘moral aspect’ of surging Russian LPG imports
The Lithuanian Energy Ministry said that it sees «a moral aspect» to statistics that the country’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports from Russia surged almost nine-fold last year.  However, fuel retailers and oil products suppliers say that they mostly buy LPG from Lithuania’s crude refiner Orlen Lietuva or in other EU countries, rather than in Russia. Traders importing larger quantities of Russian LPG could be selling it for heating or re-exporting it, according to them.
Parliament speaker sees grounds for probe into alleged unlawful police surveillance
Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen said that she sees grounds for a pre-trial investigation into allegations of unlawful criminal intelligence against the police. However, she does not back the idea of setting up a special temporary parliamentary commission. On Tuesday, Algimantas Martinkus, a former chief investigator from the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau who was dismissed for various irregularities, asked Čmilytė-Nielsen to initiate the establishment of a parliamentary commission to investigate allegedly unlawful criminal intelligence investigations. Martinkus accused the former high-ranking officers of ordering him to place a number of persons under unlawful surveillance. The police point out that Martinkus was dismissed for leaking information to persons linked to organized crime and some other infringements.