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“The rescue of those who are drowning is their own business”
(a Lithuanian saying)

by Gintaras Uosis

“There’d better be no more articles about narcotics”, such a reaction of the ‘fellows’ from 20 Neries Street in Domeikava followed the publication of ‘Karstas Komentaras’ regarding the suspicions of the former police officer Ms. Rakauskiene, who believed that drugs were produced in the same building where she lived.

The ex-policewoman Ms. Rakauskiene said that she was not intimidated by such threats as she had heard worse things in her life. However, she thought that the article published in the previous issue of ‘KK’ hit the bull’s eye: the door of Ms. Rakauskiene’s apartment got kicked at, all of the sudden the breaks of her car failed, and she was even threatened directly “to stop writing similar articles”.

Meanwhile, in Kaunas the retail of ‘Karstas Komentaras’ was completely blocked. Only after the staff of ‘KK’ started making inquiries about the vanishing of the entire circulation printed for the city of Kaunas, the newspaper appeared in the ‘Kauno Spauda’ (The Press of Kaunas) news stands.

Right before that, while visiting the news stands ‘Kauno Spauda’ and inquiring the salespeople about the absence of ‘Karstas Komentaras’, we learned five different reasons: “someone purchased the entire circulation before it was distributed”; ” the issue had not been printed”; “this issue has not reached Kaunas”; “the publishing house has not delivered the newspaper” and “our stand has not received it”. As if conspired, all the sales assistants kept asking the same question: “What’s in that issue?” And upon finding out that the paper contained an article about the drug mafia in Kaunas, some of them commented: “Don’t waste your time looking for it because you will not be able to get it. The same thing happened about six years ago”¦”

Nevertheless, the mysteriously missing newspaper finally made its late appearance in the news stands of ‘Kauno Spauda’. In the meantime, at 20 Neries Street in Domeikava, in the neighbourhood Ms. Rakauskiene, the centrifuges continue spinning around the clock and the acrid smell of acetone keeps wafting from her neighbours’ apartment just as before, while the law enforcement agencies seem to be not interested in finding out the sources of the tart odour, very similar to the byproduct received during amphetamine and heroine production process.

The disappearance of the luxury cars in which the ‘fellows’ from Kaunas had been visiting Ms. Rakauskiene’s neighbours’ apartment (the same one which emits the acrid odour and in which, according to the officials, “no drugs are produced”) was the only change to have taken place in the situation after the publication of the article in ‘Karstas Komentaras’.

There is one more intriguing detail in this story: earlier the apartment in which “no drugs are produced” was constantly visited by the ‘fellows’ from Kaunas in black Mercedeses. Here comes a strange coincidence: as soon as Mr. Rakauskiene reported the license plate numbers of the black Mercedeses directly to the Chief Police Officer Vytautas Grigaravicius, those cars have never reappeared in the neighbourhood again”¦

Hazardous Odour is the Problem of the Exposed

Thus, it has been three years since the suspicious odours started and continue coming out from Apartment 11 at 20 Neries Street in Domeikava, a little town in the suburbs of Kaunas, sometimes dubbed ‘Little Sicily’. The smell goes rising up straight to the upstairs Apartment 14, in which the former police officer Ms. Rakauskiene resides.

As we have reported in the previous issue of ‘KK’, after staying hours in Ms. Rakauskiene’s apartment for five hours, our correspondent continued suffering the consequences of the acrid smell for an entire week. Eye redness and itching eased in five days, whereas nose and mouth irritation passed only seven days later.

Meanwhile, Ms. Rakauskiene has lived in such conditions for three years, and has been diagnosed with skin cancer caused by exposure to dangerous chemical substances.

Instead of attempting to discover the source of the acrid odour in the residential multi-tenant building, the officials tried to put Ms. Rakauskiene into Psychiatric Hospital of Ziegzdriai and turn the former policewoman into a ‘mental patient’: this way she could complain to whomever she wants “about the dangerous odours emitted as a result of drug production”, but no one would believe her. Alas, the plan did not go through: the judges of Kaunas did not ‘okay’ the affair.

Therefore Ms. Rakausiene keeps visiting various institutions and searching for someone to answer the following questions: 1. Is there at least one institution in Lithuania which could investigate the source of the acrid odour that comes from the neighbouring apartment and causes eye redness and itching as well as nose and throat irritations? And 2. Who is responsible for eliminating the odours hazardous to human health?

As of today, none of the following institutions: the Police Department, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Narcotics Control Department by the Government and the State Public Health Administration Agency by Health Ministry (further SPHAA by HM)) have been able to answer these questions. The reply of Mr. V. Bakasenas, the director of the latter agency, was beyond comic: “In privately owned residential areas, public health specialists perform state public health safety control only in such cases where a commercial activity has negative effects on the residential environment.”

This means that if there were an official drug production workshop in one of the apartments of the multi-tenant building or, in other words, if ‘commercial’ activities were taking place and the odour emitted during the drug production process had a negative effect on the environment, the SPHAA by HM would take measures to prevent the people around from the hazardous odour (Ms. Rakauskiene in the particular case).

However, since no official ‘commercial activity’ is taking place in the apartment that is the subject of Ms. Rakauskiene’s complaints, the above-mentioned agency does not control the negative effects caused to the environment by the apartment in question.

Absurd? Unfortunately, yes. Yet this is how our government, to be precise, the government led by Gediminas Kirkilas ‘is taking care of’ the well being of the people of Lithuania, herein introduced Ms. Rakauskiene being one of them.

Public Health Administration Agency: “No comments”

The specialist of the Public Health Administration Agency by Health Ministry Ms. D. Malinovskiene, who prepared Mr. V Bakasenas’ letter to Ms. S. Rakauskiene, refused to talk to ‘Karstas Komentaras’.

“Could you please answer the following question: if there were an official narcotics production factory operating in the multi-tenant building at 20 Neries Street in Domeikava, and if the commercial activity taking place in the multi-tenant building would be causing negative effects to the environment (namely, the residents of the building), would then the specialists of the Public Health Center investigate the negative effects caused to the environment by the above-mentioned ‘commercial’ activity?”, ‘Karstas Komentaras’ asked Ms. D. Malinovskiene, the specialist of the PHAA by HM.

“I understand what you are asking. I cannot answer these questions. All the press questions should be directed to our press representative”.

“And what are people supposed to do if ‘something’ in a multi-tenant building is emitting a dangerous acetone odor and the residents cannot continue living in such conditions?”

“I will not answer the questions. Please talk to the press representative.”

“We have contacted the Health Affairs Committee in Seimas (the Parliament of Lithuania) and have been explained that the specialists of your agency must react to all the residents’ complaints, regardless of whether the negative effects to the environment are caused by a ‘commercial’ activity conducted in a multi-tenant apartment building or not.”

“Please talk to the press representative”.

Hence we had to look for the press representative of the PHAA by HM. We soon found out that Mr. Ceslovas Iskauskas, the press representative of the earlier-mentioned institution, “is on vacation this week”.

Rebuttal: the Only Police Response

When visiting the editorial office of ‘Karstas Komentaras’, the former police officer Ms. S. Rakauskiene brought a whole pile of letters from the Police Department and from the high-ranking officials of the Main Police Office of Kaunas. All of them assure that no narcotic substances are produced in Ms. S. Rakauskiene’s neighborhood, and that the brothers Kaladauskai are not involved in any criminal activity. The brothers Kaladauskai reside in the apartment, which is the subject of Ms. S. Rakauskiene’s complaints.

Thus, we face a question: if no narcotic substances are produced in the apartment under debate, then what is the source of the horrible odour which triggered red and itchy eye symptoms to the reporter of ‘Karstas Komentaras’ after having stayed in the repulsive stench for the mere 5 hours (he could not stay inside any longer without a respirator). The reporter kept suffering from eye redness and itchiness for 5 more days after the visit, while the nose and throat irritation lasted for seven days.

The analysis of the stench carried out at the Kaunas Public Health Center showed increased concentration of acetone.

According to Ms. J. Sarkiniene, a physician – hygienist of Kaunas Public Health Center, when the poisoning by acetone vapour occurs through the airway, the vapour irritates the airway and the mucous membrane of the mouth and nose, and can evoke the following symptoms: coughing, dizziness, headaches, feeling of intoxication, drowsiness, memory disorder, vision disorder, anxiousness, asthma and nausea. The prolonged exposure to the poisonous substances may result in a neural disorder, chronic eye inflammation and inability to properly distinguish smells.

“Acetone vapour is heavier than air and is highly flammable. When blending with air, it is capable of forming an explosive mixture. Acetone vapour is heavier than air, and therefore it accumulates at lower elevations”, stated Ms. J. Sarkiniene in her testimony.

However, neither such observations nor the fact that there is a multi-tenant building in Domeikava filled with acrid smell of acetone and that a human being has to reside under the above-described circumstances seemed to bother our state officials.

The bailiff Mr. Marius Lekecinskas once again confirmed the fact that Ms. S. Rakauskiene was not imagining things. His factual report on conditions presented the observations on his arrival in the town of Domeikava at 20 Neries Street, Apt. 14 (i.e. Ms. S. Rakauskiene’s apartment), which took place at 9:45PM on September 25, 2006. “Having opened the door of the apartment and entered inside (into the hall), I felt a peculiar odour. It reminded of natural gas mixed with another acrid smell. The same odour could be smelt in the kitchen. After staying in and breathing this air for a while, my nose and throat started itching. Breathing the air in the kitchen caused sneezing and coughing. At the time when the observations were put on record, the air vents were open and a window was ajar. The walls of the kitchen and the ceiling area around the air went were covered with gray-colored scurf. The same odor could be felt in the bathroom. It was slightly stronger closer to the floor. Stating of the factual conditions was completed at 22.15.

Awfully Acrid Stench Was Not Gas

Unwilling to even make an assumption that narcotics could be indeed produced in Ms. S. Rakauskiene’s neighbourhood, the officers of the Kaunas District Police Office started looking for explanations that could justify the stench lingering in Ms. S. Rakauskiene’s apartment. And they did find it: how about just an ordinary gas leak?

Unfortunately, the Kaunas branch of ‘AB Lietuvos Dujos’ (‘The Gas of Lithuania, JSC’) contradicted the version of the Kaunas officers. The emergency service crew visited Ms. Rakauskiene’s residence and examined the concentration of gas in the apartment as well as in the entire multi-tenant building but found no natural gas leaks. Yet, they declared “extraneous odours could be smelled in Apartment 14, the composition of which could not be determined.”

So is there in this country at least one institution which could determine the sources of the strong acetone odour present at 20 Neries Street Domeikava and eliminate the stench?

As practice shows, so far there is none. While it looks like we are falling just a little short: all we need is the police and the health administration agencies to start performing their duties.

To be continued”¦

In the next issue:
How the Kaunas Police looked for narcotic substances”¦ in Ms. S. Rakauskiene’s apartment.

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