10 of the Lithuanian Parliament's most important decisions in 2015
Here are 10 of the most important, controversial or widely discussed Seimas (parliament) decisions made during 2015. This list was compiled by 15min.lt.
Prosecutor General‘s position
Former Prosecutor General Darius Valys ended his term in June, but it took three proposals for the position until the Seimas approved a new Prosecutor General just before Christmas. Two earlier candidates proposed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė - Nerijus Meilutis and Edita Dambrauskienė - were both rejected by the Seimas. The president had threatened not to provide a new candidate until the new parliamentary term.
Ultimately, the president found a third candidate, Evaldas Pašilis, who was approved by the Seimas.
The Freedom Prize
This year, the parliament decided not to accept the Freedom Award Commission's proposal to award the Freedom Prize to Vytautas Landsbergis, the first acting head of the restored Lithuanian state and a leader of the independence movement.
Later, however, the parliament began looking for ways to reverse its decision and appoint the prize to Vytautas Landsbergis, but the politician wrote a letter to the Parliament Speaker, Loreta Graužinienė, requesting not to give him the prize.
Progressive tax proposal
The progressive tax bill proposed by Social Democrat Algirdas Sysas can be considered one of the most unsuccessful proposals in the Seimas this year. Sysas proposed tax rates of between 15 and 40 percent.
Although even a liberal mistakenly voted for the progressive tax bill, there was no hope for Sysas' proposal. Even his colleagues from his own party criticised the proposal, which he has submitted before. The vote on the proposal was unsuccessful and the bill was returned to Mr. Sysas for improvements.
Ban on alcohol at petrol stations
After lengthy discussions, the Seimas decided to permanently prohibit the sale of alcohol at petrol stations. However, some MPs have already submitted a proposal to allow petrol stations to sell beverages of up to 15% alcohol by volume.
Night-vision gun sights
Another issue that the Seimas is likely to return to next year is whether to allow hunters to use night-vision sights.
This year, there was only one more voter for the legalization of night-vision sights than there are licensed hunters in the Seimas. Citizens flooded Seimas members' e-mail addresses with requests not to validate the use of this expensive equipment.
The State Defence Council decided that Lithuania must return its compulsory military service for at least five years. It was decided that men from 19 to 26 years of age will be randomly enlisted as conscripts for compulsory military service. After a successful start – almost all of the positions were filled by volunteers – the Seimas has begun considering prolonging the conscription beyond the initial five-year term.
Son-in-laws' and wives' investigations
The parliament instructed the Anticorruption Commission to investigate possible non-transparent activities in Druskininkai municipality, governed by Social Democrat Ričardas Malinauskas, as well as corruption cases in Utena. At the last minute, the governing parties also instructed the Commission to look into the actions of people close to Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats party leader Gabrielius Landsbergis and conservatives Andrius Kubilius and Irena Degutienė.
The political rehabilitation of Rolandas Paksas
The Seimas initiated a Constitutional amendment so that Rolandas Paksas - the impeached former Lithuanian president who is now the leader of the Order and Justice party - would again be able to participate in elections. When voting to amend the Constitution, however, some of the Labour Party's members were absent, resulting in an insufficient number of votes. The project was delayed for at least six months, which means that Paksas will not be able to be a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections next year.
Police officers and the Internal Service Statute
After several years of discussions, the Seimas finally managed to approve the new version of the Internal Service Statute this year. Though the statute, a boon for police officers, includes articles mandating wage growth, these only come into effect in 2017. Commissioner General Linas Pernavas, however, has promised to start raising wages after the new year begins.
R. A. Ručys immunity
The Special Investigation Service (STT) has been investigating the practice of legalizing property gained through the trading of influence or criminal money using fraudulent accounting.
Twelve persons were approved as suspects during the investigation, including Order and Justice party member and MP Rimas Antanas Ručys. His immunity had to be lifted by the Seimas for the STT officers to do their work.
R.A. Ručys' immunity was lifted and he soon became a suspect.