Lithuania. At the New Year, a strict alcohol law came
into force which, among other things, banned all alcohol
advertising. It had unforeseen consequences when
distributors of foreign magazines were forced to paste or
tear out pages to avoid high fines. According to
Countryaah.com, President Dalia
Grybauskaitė, who signed the law, now believed that its
effects were reminiscent of the Middle Ages. The law was
intended to curb the large consumption of alcohol, one of
the highest in the world per person.
An unusual ceremony was held in Kaunas at the beginning
of the year when Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited
the city. Abe then posthumously honored Japanese diplomat
Chiune Sugihara, who rescued thousands of Jews from his
consulate in Kaunas in the summer of 1940. Despite his
government, which was allied with Nazi occupants, Sugihara
issued Japanese visas to Lithuanian Jews who could travel
through the Soviet Union to Japan.
Lithuania is one of the EU's most vulnerable countries
for tobacco smuggling from the east. During the winter,
Customs discovered a new smuggling method when thousands of
cigarette packages, plastic and well wrapped, had been
trapped under ice floes that floated in the Neris River
across the border from Belarus. The ice floes were equipped
with GPS transmitters so that the deliveries could be
Lithuania was troubled by data that the Russian
Federation placed nuclear weapons robots in the neighboring
Russian enclave Kaliningrad. The government requested that
the US permanently place long-distance and short-range
robots in the Baltic States.
Lithuanian migrants were victims of a tangle of human
trafficking revealed in the United Kingdom, where migrants
were held as slave laborers on a flower plantation. About
170,000 Lithuanians have emigrated to Britain in the hope of
In May, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that
Lithuania held a stateless Palestinian prisoner illegally in
a secret CIA prison in 2005-06. The prisoner, suspected of
terrorism by the United States, stated that he had been
tortured. Lithuania was obliged to pay damages to the
affected person and to bring responsible officials to
In June, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland signed an
agreement to connect their electricity grids to the EU by
2025, thereby breaking the electricity dependence of the
Russian Federation that has existed since the Soviet era.
Lithuania called on the EU to pressure Belarus to improve
the security of a Russian-built new nuclear power plant near
the border with Lithuania. According to Lithuania, the
reactors are a threat to the country's national security.
According to an expert report, better security is needed
against, among other things, earthquakes and extreme
Five of Parliament's seven parties agreed in September
that defense spending should be gradually increased to reach
2.5% of GDP by 2030. Lithuania is thus one of the few
countries to go beyond NATO's 2% requirement. Since the
Russian Federation's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Lithuania
has gone from having one of the EU's smallest defense
budgets to becoming one of the few NATO countries to meet
the Alliance's goals. The Social Democrats rejected the
settlement, saying that increased spending should go to
social needs and not to the defense.
Pope Francis visited in September Lithuania, one of
Europe's most Catholic countries. He warned against
xenophobia and anti-Semitism, saying that Lithuania's
difficult experiences during the Soviet and Nazi oppression
should be used to promote tolerance and diversity in Europe.
The pope prayed in the torture and death cells of the old
KGB prison and at a memorial site for the Holocaust's Jewish
victims in Vilnius's old ghetto.
In October, a ban was imposed on pedestrians to use the
mobile when crossing pedestrian crossings. You must neither
look into it nor talk in it. Violations of the new law can
be punished with fines.