Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 144

France’s cultural attache was critically injured by criminals in downtown Vilnius, and other Westerners have also been assaulted or robbed in Lithuania’s capital over the past few days. The series of incidents highlights an increase in criminal activity in the city and the failure of a much-advertised police operation to subdue criminal gangs. The Vilnius police commander, his deputies, and other officers resigned in quick succession this week, as the diplomatic fallout grew for the Lithuanian government. Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius decried the "damage to the country’s prestige," while Internal Affairs Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis conjectured yesterday that the "ever more frequent assaults on foreigners" could be part of a covert operation by hostile intelligence services. (BNS, July 21-23)

The assaults come at an especially sensitive time for Lithuania. Vilnius seeks to reverse the European Union’s recent decision to relegate Lithuania and Latvia to a second round of accession talks, to take place some years from now and after Estonia will already have been admitted into the European body.

Coincidentally, the Riga police chief was suspended yesterday and the Tallinn police chief was dismissed last week. Both appear to have been casualties of infighting among political parties and city hall factions. (BNS, July 23)

Quiet Progress on Black Sea Fleet’s Partition.