Week in Lithuania: Vilnius Airport building to be torn down, Achema furloughs 400 workers

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were the decision to demolish the building of the Vilnius Airport, the initiative to lower age limit for running for parliament to 21 years and labour issues in nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer Achema.
Lithuanian firms report difficulties in trade ties with Chinese firms
At least 20 Lithuanian companies with trade ties to China have been experiencing difficulties lately, Vidmantas Janulevičius, president of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, said on Monday, September 20. His comment came after the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry confirmed last week that eight companies trading with China had already turned to it for help.
Lithuanian Customs sign deal with China’s Nuctech on border scanners
The Lithuanian Customs Department announced on Monday, September 20, it has signed a contract with the Warsaw branch of China’s Nuctech on the installation of X-ray equipment at the Kena customs office on the border with Belarus. International media reported in June 2020 that US agencies had launched a campaign against Nuctech’s operations in Europe. But the Lithuanian authorities say that the deal was approved in light of the complicated situation at the border. However, an extensive list of conditions and preconditions regarding deadlines, software, Internet connections and many other things was attached to it.
Vilnius Airport building will be demolished
Built seven decades ago, Vilnius Airport’s main arrival terminal does not meet today’s needs, therefore, it should be demolished and a new building should be built, Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis said on Monday, September 20. In his words, the upgrading of the old building could cost twice as much as the construction of a new building. The airport served over 1 million passengers last year, he said, adding that the number stood at around 5 million passengers before the pandemic, although the airport has the capacity to serve 3.5 million passengers.
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Lithuania to probe how Afghans mentioned by ECHR got into country
Lithuania has launched a pre-trial investigation into how the five Afghans mentioned by the European Court of Human Rights got into the country, Antanas Montvydas, a deputy chief of the country’s State Border Guard Service, said on Tuesday, November 21.
Lithuania urges Belarus to resolve Astravyets NPP’s safety issues
Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) called on Tuesday, September 21, for swift resolution of the Astravyets nuclear power plant’s safety issues, pointing out that the majority of previously mentioned safety problems have not been resolved so far. The Lithuanian watchdog sent a letter to the Belarusian Ministry of Emergency Situations which acts as the nuclear safety watchdog in Belarus. In its letter, VATESI stressed the need to suspend the operation of the Astravyets NPP’s Unit 1 and the construction of its Unit 2.
Chinese 5G smartphones pose cyber security risks
An investigation into three smartphones produced by Chinese companies Huawei, Xiaomi and OnePlus, carried out in Lithuania, has disclosed four major cyber security risks, the country’s National Cyber Security Centre reported on Tuesday, September 21. Two of them are linked to apps installed by the producers, and the two remaining have to do with the risk of personal data leaks and potential restrictions of the freedom of speech, the centre said. Three risks have been identified in the Xiaomi device, and one in the Huawei device. Meanwhile, no cyber security vulnerabilities have been found in the OnePlus device.
Lithuania’s Achema furloughs 400 workers
Lithuania’s nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer Achema, the Baltics’s single largest natural gas consumer, announced on Wednesday, September 22, it is placing a third of its workforce on furlough, as rising prices for gas and other energy sources have made its operations loss-making. The company said it had already halted three production units, including an ammonia production unit.
Lithuanian court ends hopes for Moscow House in Vilnius
The Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday, September 22, dismissed an appeal by the Moscow Centre for Culture and Business–Moscow House, the builder, against the authorities’ refusal to issue a building permit for the project, Vilnius Municipality said. The court’s ruling, which is final and not subject to appeal, has put an end to the dispute between the municipality and Moscow House, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius said. The idea to build Moscow House in Vilnius emerged in July 2004 when Yuri Luzhkov, the then mayor of the Russian capital, attended celebrations of the 750th anniversary of the coronation of King Mindaugas in the Lithuanian capital.
Initiative to cut age limit for running for parliament to 21 years passes first hurdle
A draft constitutional amendment lowering the minimum age for standing as a candidate in Lithuania’s parliamentary election to 21 years, from the current 25 years, passed the first vote in the Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament, on Thursday, September 23. Ninety-five MPS voted in favour, one voted against and 12 abstained. A constitutional amendment must be voted on twice by the Seimas, with an interval of at least three months between the votes, and requires a two-thirds majority, or 94 votes, to be adopted.
Parliament presented proposal to install child rooms in bigger institutions
lawmakers will consider a proposal to set up rooms for temporary childcare in state and municipal establishments and institutions with more than 100 employees. On Thursday, September 23, MPs gave their initial backing to Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen’s initiative with 110 votes in favour. The bill will now go to parliamentary committees for further consideration.
Seimas calls on municipalities to monumentalise Jewish massacre places
The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, called on Thursday, September 23, on local municipalities to monumentalise all places of mass massacre of Jews and tend Jewish cemeteries as Lithuania marks the 80th anniversary of the start of Jewish Holocaust in Lithuania. The document stipulated that all monuments and other memorial signs for people who collaborated with the Nazis and Soviets must be removed from public spaces and their commemoration should be removed from educational programs. Some 195,000 Jews were killed in Lithuania during World War Two.
Lithuania reports 1,464 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths on Friday
Lithuania has registered 1,464 new coronavirus infections and 14 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the country’s statistics office said on Friday, September 24. Eleven fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. Overall, 322,700 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Lithuania since the start of the pandemic, including 13,715 active cases. The overall number of deaths directly or indirectly related to the coronavirus has reached 9,709.