Books on Lithuania
Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September of 1991 (following the abortive coup in Moscow). The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for eventual integration into Western European institutions.
Update No: 282 - (30/06/04)
Valdas Adamkus, the former president, won Lithuania's presidential elections on June 27th with 51.5 percent of the vote. He had been defeated by Rolandas Paksas in 2003, but Paksas was impeached and had to leave office in April. Paksas, Europe's first leader to be removed from office by impeachment, was accused of illicit dealings with Russian gangsters and the Russian secret services.
Adamkas overcame a strong challenge from Kazimira Prunskiene, the leader of the Peasants Party, who won 46.9 percent of the vote. Voter turnout was 52 percent. She was backed by Paksas, which almost enabled her to win, because the populist Paksas still has a big following among the poor and rural voters.
The 61 year-old Prunskiene was Lithuania's first prime minister after it regained independence in 1991, but she quit over a battle over the economy. She is dogged by allegations of past links with the Soviet KGB, which she denies.
Crisis blows over
Actually, she was evidently the favourite of powerful figures in Lithuania's security and judicial services, also sympathetic to Paksas.
A crisis was brewing just before the elections when the country's anti-corruption investigators raided the offices of four political parties on June 22nd. According to local press reports, the parties raided had all supported the impeachment of Paksas.
The investigators raided the headquarters of the Liberal Centre Union and Social Liberal parties, as well as those of the ruling Social Democrats, which have supported the candidacy of Adamkus.
"The actions were taken in the framework of an investigation, conducted by the office of the prosecutor general and are linked with the suspected criminal activities related to the financing of some parties during recent years," Valentinas Junokas, the head of Lithuania's special investigation service, told AFP.
Had Prunskiene won, there would have been accusations that the investigators were playing politics. Things could have got sticky. But she did not win.
Anti-corruption and pro-Western course
Adamkus led Lithuania as president between 1998 and 2003. He has pledged to use his presidency to bring unity to the country and to help in the fight against corruption and organized crime, the more serious in Lithuania than in the other Baltic states because of the proximity of Kaliningrad, The Russian enclave between itself and Poland Kaliningrad is a notorious crime centre, swarming with mobsters.
Lithuania joined both NATO and the European Union earlier in May, along with a group of countries from the former Soviet bloc. Its pro-Western direction is not in doubt. Adamkus, for fifty years a resident of the US, will ensure it.
Maverick does well in Europarliament elections
The presidential elections coincided with elections to the European Parliament. Voting was brisk in Lithuania where exit polls had predicted that a leftist party set up by a populist Russian-born millionaire parliamentarian last year would top the European ballot with 23 percent. The telephone exit poll of 1,000 people left the ruling Social Democrats trailing with 12.7 percent.
Officials and voters admitted the likely explanation for the largest Baltic republic bucking the general trend towards apathy was the simultaneous presidential race. "European issues are much more complicated and they (voters) think first about local issues," Lithuania's election chief Zenonas Vaigauskas said.
The parliamentarian and businessman, Viktor Uspakich, commands broad support beyond the country's Russian speaking minority. His blunt-speaking pledge to defend Lithuanian interests in the European Parliament appealed to poorer sections of the population.
HSBC to expand in Lithuania
British bank HSBC will become the first international banking institution to enter the Lithuanian market soon, New Europe reported.
The Bank of Lithuania has received a statement from the British financial services watchdog informing that the HSBC intends to provide banking services in the country. HSBC is planning to use the EU legislation allowing it to enter Lithuania without any restrictions after EU enlargement, the Bank of Lithuania said.
FOOD & DRINK
Anyksciu Vynas winery sale on
The Lithuanian Privatisation Commission recently approved the draft agreement on the sell-off of a 72.93% stake in Anyksciu Vynas winery, New Europe reported recently.
When the first AV privatisation attempt fell through, many experts were sceptical about the prospects of a second round and said bids would be lower than the 20m litas offered by alcohol wholesaler Artrio-2, which withdrew after winning the first tender. In the second tender, another recently privatised winery, Alita, offered 25m litas for a 72.93% stake in AV.
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