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Lithuania

Yearbook 2019

Lithuania. During the year, Lithuania was ranked as one of the world's leading countries in complying with the Paris agreement on greenhouse gas reduction. When 56 countries were assessed, Lithuania came in third place after Sweden and Morocco.

2019 Lithuania

In February, 26 people were arrested on suspicion of corruption in the judiciary. Eight were high-ranking judges, including in the Supreme Court. According to the prosecutor, it was a "trade in justice", where bribes of up to € 100,000 were paid to influence the verdict.

It also emerged that a suspected bribe of the equivalent of SEK 34 million to Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych went through an account with Swedbank in Lithuania.

In March, a Lithuanian court sentenced former Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Jazov in his absence to 10 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This was the case against the Lithuanian independence movement in Vilnius in January 1991, when 14 people died and over 700 were injured. A further 67 former soldiers were sentenced to prison. Only two of them were present.

When the government was reformed in May, Lithuania gained the EU's only fully male government. The female opposition leader described it as outrageous that no women could be placed among the 14 ministers.

According to CountryAAH, popular President Dalia Grybauskaitė was not allowed to run for more terms, and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis decided to run for office in May. However, he was defeated by former Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and former bank adviser Gitanas Nausėda. They went on to a second round, where Gitanas Nausėda won with just over 66% of the vote against just over 33% for Šimonytė.

The newly elected president emphasized the need to bridge the social and economic gaps in society. The income gaps in Lithuania are second highest in the EU. Nausėda also hoped to improve Lithuania's poor relationship with the Russian Federation.

Skvernelis continued as prime minister but reformed the government with two new parties, Order and Justice and the Election Campaign for Poles in Lithuania. In the coalition there was also the Skvernelis party of the Peasants and the Greens and the Social Democrats.

During the year, two Lithuanian citizens were sentenced to over four years in prison for spying for the Russian Federation. They have for several years provided information on the air base in Šiauliai used by NATO for patrolling the Baltic airspace.

Many tourists were attracted to the decommissioned nuclear power plant Ignalina, which was the recording site for the HBO series "Chernobyl". Ignalina had the same type of reactors as the accidental Chernobyl in Ukraine.

The conflict over Lithuania's participation in the Holocaust continued during the year. Vilnius Municipality changed the name of a street named after a pronounced anti-Semite, and the mayor decided to take down a disputed public memorial plaque of Jonas Noreika, an officer and anti-Soviet opponent who collaborated with Nazi occupiers in the 1941 Jewish persecution.

The Jews of Vilnius welcomed the decision, but it was met with harsh reactions from Noreika supporters, who put up the memorial plaque again at a ceremony where hundreds of participants sang patriotic songs.

A fierce debate was held in the fall between those who honored Noreika as a patriotic hero in the fight against Soviet occupation and those who felt that his part in the genocide of the Jews made it impossible to pay tribute to him. President Nausėda called for a broad discussion on the principles that should apply to historical monuments.

Several anti-Semitic actions were carried out during the year in Lithuania. Among other things, "Heil Hitler" was written at the entrance to the Kaunas synagogue.

In August, around 12,000 people formed a human chain in Vilnius in memory of the Baltic Way 20 years earlier, when about two million people held hands in hand through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in protest against the Soviet empire.

In October, the United States began deploying US troops in Lithuania, near the border with Belarus. 500 soldiers with 30 tanks were expected to be deployed in six months. Lithuania's defense minister said the intention was to deter the Russian federation. Moscow responded that it did not intend to invade the Baltics, but accused NATO of destabilizing Europe by moving troops near the Russian border.

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