Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for the ‘Lithuania’ Category

Two Decades Since USSR Broke Up. What Happened To Soviet Countries?

Posted by Info on 23/10/2011

Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.


Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.

Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.

A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.

Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Lithuania Expands Blacklist Of Belarusian Officials

Posted by Info on 23/09/2011

Vilnius intends to add 18 Belarusian officials to those banned from entering Lithuania. These officials have relation to persecution of Belarusian Viasna Human Rights Centre and its leaders. The Viasna leader is in the detention facility Nr 1 in Minsk facing 7 years in prison.
Names and posts of the civil servants are not given, but they are “associated with the persecution of the Belarusian Human Rights Centre Viasna and its leaders”.

Lithuania has already called on other EU member states to consider a possibility of adding these Belarusian officials to their national lists of persons declared persona non grata in their countries.

The EU has already imposed travel ban on 200 Belarusian top officials due to crackdown on the opposition conducted by official Minsk.

Posted in Belarus, EU, Lithuania | Leave a Comment »

“War On Terror” In Poland, Romania and Lithuania Accountability Must Be Established

Posted by Info on 05/09/2011

Mr Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for human rights: “The full truth must now be established and guarantees given that such forms of co-operation will never be repeated. Effective investigations are imperative and long overdue.”

Highly secure detention facilities, so-called “Black Sites”, were established since 2001 in at least seven different overseas locations, to which the CIA delivered its detainees for “enhanced interrogation”. Detention in CIA custody meant being kept indefinitely in secret, incommunicado, solitary confinement. The US Government maintains up to now that “details concerning locations”, and the “assistance of foreign liaison services in any aspect of the program” should be kept secret.

A CIA Black Site was opened in Poland on 5 December 2002. The ongoing investigation of the Polish Prosecutor has a crucial role to play in achieving accountability; its results should be tendered for public and judicial scrutiny with the minimum of further delay.
Black Site was opened in Romenia near Bucharest on 23 September 2003, immediately after the closure of the Polish facility.
The Romanian authorities refused to uncover the whole truth of what happened on Romanian territory. The only official response has been denial, supported by a Senate Committee report refuting all allegations.
The Lithuanian authorities have demonstrated some intent to reveal the truth, notably through a parliamentary inquiry and a one-year pre-trial investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) was able to inspect two detention sites identified by the parliamentary committee as having been equipped to house CIA detainees. However, the essential questions as to the timing and scope of the CIA’s use of these facilities remain unanswered.

Posted in EU, Lithuania, others, Poland | Leave a Comment »

Belarus Decided To Blacklist Lithuanian TV Journalist

Posted by Info on 25/08/2011

Belarusian border guards denied entry to a Lithuanian film crew saying that TV journalist Ruta Lankininkaite, who was part of the group, was included in the personae non grata list and annulled her visa.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry summoned on Wednesday Belarusian Ambassador Vladimir Drazhin to explain the incident.
The Baltic state is known for its support of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s opponents. In June, a House of United Belarus, that brings together Belarusian political immigrants, was opened in Vilnius. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis hailed the idea and expressed hope that Belarus would return to “democracy and freedom”.

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Lithuania: Journalist Linked Politician To KGB Sent To Jail

Posted by Info on 23/03/2011

In Lithuania, a journalist who linked a politician to the former Soviet KGB was found guilty of libel and sent to jail.

Gintaras Visockas has worked as a journalist for 20 years. One of the recurring themes in his current publication, an internet newspaper called “Slaptai” (“Secret”), is the closeness of Lithuanian politicians to the old secret police of the Soviet Union, the KGB.

“I said in my article that in the Soviet Union, all the talented martial artists were controlled by the all-powerful KGB. I never wrote that Jezerkas worked for the KGB. I wrote ‘controlled,'” said Visockas.

A court in Vilnius saw things differently and ruled that “the average reader” would take away the impression that Jezerkas had worked for the KGB if they read Visockas’ article. Visockas was sentenced to a 10,000 euro ($14,200) fine. He couldn’t pay the money and had to spend 40 days in jail.

“It is unprecedented for our judiciary that a journalist is sentenced because he wrote something critical about a politician,” Radzevicius said. “There is also no precedent for a presidential candidate of our country seeking revenge against a journalist who wrote something unflattering about him.”

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Slogans: “Lithuania for Lithuanians” and “We are white brothers”

Posted by Info on 17/02/2011

It has become a tradition since 2008 that there is a nationalist march on the second independence day, 11 March.
In Kaunas a nationalist party got the permission to demonstrate whith the main slogans were “Lithuania is an ethnic state” and “No! to the East and to the West”,, “Lithuania for Lithuanians”, “We are white brothers”.
At the same time a young Pakistani man was beaten up.

The local governments creating a hell for trade union or LGBT demonstrations, but happily allowing nationalists to shout their slogans.

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NGOs Demand That Lithuania Resume Inquiry Into Secret CIA Prison

Posted by Info on 18/01/2011

International non-governmental organizations demand that Lithuania should resume investigation into a likely existence in the republic of a secret CIA prison.

Amnesty International is extremely disappointed that the case was closed for lack of political will, although it was only last November that Lithuania’s Prosecutor-General offered assurances that the inquiry would go on.

The London-based human rights organization Reprieve has also levelled criticism at the decision of the Lithuanian Prosecutor-General’s Office to close the investigation.

Posted in EU, Lithuania, others | Leave a Comment »

OSCE: Lithuanian Chairmanship’s Plans For 2011

Posted by Info on 17/01/2011

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis would work to protect the Copenhagen principles and support the work of OSCE institutions in preserving the principles, which comprise wide-reaching commitments in the field of human rights.
This represents an essential element of ensuring comprehensive security and effectively addressing protracted conflicts and other challenges in the whole OSCE area, including Moldova and Georgia, as well as Kyrgyzstan. Tangible progress in addressing protracted conflicts is one of the priorities of Lithuania’s OSCE Chairmanship for 2011.
Ažubalis emphasized that OSCE institutions should intensify their engagement with Belarusian authorities and stimulate the government’s engagement with civil society.

Lithuania would advance human rights, including the safety of journalists, freedom of expression and pluralism in the new media in the whole OSCE area. He also emphasized the importance of education to promote tolerance.

Posted in Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Daughter Of Jailed Belarusian Presidential Candidate Seeks European Support

Posted by Info on 11/01/2011

Eva Nyaklyaeva has met with government officials in Lithuania and Poland, Belarus’s two western neighbors, as well as ministers in the Czech Republic as she has embarked on a tour of European capitals to seek support for the country’s opposition and an international response to the government’s crackdown.The Polish Foreign Ministry has already waived visa fees for Belarusian nationals as an “expression of solidarity.”
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed to win some 80 percent of the vote.

Some 600 people, including seven of nine opposition presidential candidates, were arrested during a mass rally on December 19, in which an estimated 10,000 Belarusians took to Minsk’s October Square in protest of what they say were rigged elections.
Police violently dispersed the rally, beating many peaceful protesters, including Nyaklyaeu. He and four other candidates have since been charged with organizing mass riots.
The beating left Nyaklyaeu hospitalized and unable to speak before unidentified men dragged him from his hospital bed and put him in prison. Nyaklyaeva said that her father nearly died in prison after losing consciousness due to low blood pressure, and that his condition is still critical.

She will then head to Brussels, where she will appeal to leaders to look past other considerations in their response to the crackdown, including Belarus’s role as a key transport country for eastern gas heading to Europe.

I don’t want to be diplomatic anymore. I am sick and tired, with all respect, of the analysts who say that in this situation it is very difficult for Europe or for the West to take serious steps because of the economic situation. To hell with realpolitik. These are human lives now on the line.”

Posted in Belarus, EU, Lithuania, others, Poland | Leave a Comment »

Lithuania Takes Over OSCE Chairmanship

Posted by Info on 02/01/2011

1.1.2011 Lithuania took over the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, with a focus on internal and external threats in the OSCE area, fostering democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably freedom of the media, promoting energy security in Europe and building upon synergies between regional organizations.

Lithuania is as a part of the Baltic Sea region and a member of the European Union and NATO.

In the Astana Commemorative Declaration, participating States have tasked the Lithuanian and subsequent chairmanships of the OSCE with “organizing a follow-up process within the existing formats, taking into consideration ideas and proposals put forward by the participating States, including in the framework of the Corfu Process”.

Posted in EU, Lithuania | Leave a Comment »

Nato plans to defend Baltics from Russia

Posted by Info on 08/12/2010

Nine Nato divisions – US, British, German, and Polish – have been identified for combat operations in the event of armed aggression against Poland or the three Baltic states. North Polish and German ports have been listed for the receipt of naval assault forces and British and US warships. The first Nato exercises under the plan are to take place in the Baltic next year.

Despite President Barack Obama’s policy of “resetting” relations with Russia, which was boosted at the Nato summit attended by Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, the state department fears that the major policy shift could trigger “unnecessary tensions” with Moscow.

The decision to draft contingency plans for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was taken secretly earlier this year at the urging of the US and Germany at Nato headquarters in Belgium, ending years of division at the heart of the western alliance over how to view Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Posted in Estonia, EU, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia | Leave a Comment »

IRA Dissident Seeking Weapons For Terrorist Purposes From Lithuanian Agent

Posted by Info on 26/09/2010

A Lithuanian court has begun hearing evidence in a trial against a suspected IRA dissident accused of trying to buy weapons and explosives there. Many British agents participated in the sting.
Michael Campbell, the brother of a senior Real IRA figure in Ireland, was arrested in January 2008 in an international sting operation when he allegedly handed 10,000 euro (£8,500) to an undercover Lithuanian agent posing as a weapons supplier.

It is unclear when the trial, which began last year, will end. Campbell, 36, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seeking weapons for terrorist purposes.

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Lithuanian Terrorism Suspect Free On Bail

Posted by Info on 06/08/2010

Terrorism suspect Eglė Kusaitė walked free after 9 month in pre-trial detention from the Vilnius Court of Appeals on Thursday. A judge ruled that she was not at risk of fleeing the country and said there was no reason to believe that Kusaitė would disappear, commit another crime or escape into secrecy. The fact that she does hold conversations with foreigners was not enough to detain her. Her trial date has not been set yet.

Kusaitė was arrested with her Lithuanian passport that had a Russian visa inside and a ticket to Moscow. In her bag were documents on how to make explosives and information on the workings of the underground transport network in the Russian capital.
The Baltic News Service reported that she had been married to a young Chechen man, but he left her to return home to fight in the resistance and was killed in fighting…..She is also said to have links to other terrorist groups in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and England.

Posted in Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Russia, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Russian INTERPOL Search For 1500 Including Alleged 110 Terrorist Suspect

Posted by Info on 01/07/2010

Russia’s law enforcement officials continue to insist on terrorist Akhmed Zakayev’s extradition from Great Britain in spite the British courts had decided to grant Zakayev refugee status.

In the first six months of this year Russia reported 150 individuals were wanted and accused in and charged with various crimes. Today, the total number of Russians, on the wanted list of INTERPOL is 1,480 people. Of them, 338 people are wanted for murder, 352 for fraud, 110 for involvement in terrorist activities ….

The head of the INTERPOL office in Russia Lakhonin :.. this year, already 22 people have been extradited. However, certain problems exist in cooperation of international law enforcement agencies. ..extradition rate of criminals at the Russian request is obstructed by the lack of a contractual base and a double-standard policy, which is often applied by countries harboring Russian citizens with an international warrant for their arrest.
“This year, we were refused the extradition of seven people.”

“Germany failed to extradite two individuals, charged with robbery, and France and Belgium: one each. There, our compatriots were wanted for fraud, and extradition was refused due to expiration of the statute of limitations in criminal cases. Meanwhile, Lithuania refused to surrender two individuals accused of terrorist activity because they were granted refugee status by the country.

Posted in Lithuania, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Was Lithuanian Woman Planning Bomb Attack In Russia ?

Posted by Info on 05/05/2010

Lithuanian woman, Egle Kusaite, 21, was arrested on March 28 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius as she was boarding a flight to Russia. Some media reports have linked her with the terror attacks in the Moscow Metro, which happened a day later, after police found a bomb-making manual and a map of the Metro in her bags.
Kusaite has been under surveillance for several months. Police were monitoring her due to the anti-Russian messages she posted on the Internet. She also applied several times for a Russian visa, but was repeatedly denied.

Lithuanian investigators suspected that Kusaite had some sort of crime on her mind and launched a joint operation with their Russian counterparts. She was allowed to enter Russia, but was arrested en route.

Lithuanian media story : at the age of 18, the girl became engaged to a young man from Chechnya, who later left the country to an unknown destination. A year later, she fled her home and disappeared, to be discovered three months later in Germany living in a family of Chechen immigrants.
Her Lithuanian family said she went through a drastic change of character, becoming a highly religious and radical Muslim. Later she returned to her home country. Kusaite now remains in custody.

She, arrested in March after her links with extremist organization were discovered, was allegedly planning a suicide bombing attack at a Russian military site.

Posted in Lithuania, others, Russia | Leave a Comment »