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, Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania, a country located in Northern Europe. 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 tracked.
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 finding jobs.
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 justice.
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 weather.
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.