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Why black hussars cost more

Discrimination or just a better product? A citizen complaint that flower delivery by a black man wearing a hussar uniform cost 40 litas (11 euros), while the same service provided by a white "hussar" cost 25 litas (7 euros), has caused the Lithuanian Office of the Equal Opportunity to open an investigation. The Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsman, Ausrine Burneikiene, described the case as one of possible racial discrimination since analogous services are priced differently, only depending on the color of the skin of the provider.

The Kaunas shop, Tarp Geliu, or "Among the Flowers" in Lithuanian, employs 31-year-old Somali, Thomas Amaikar, who dresses up in a 19th-century uniform to deliver flowers. Amaikar himself sees no problem. "They're happy and we're happy," said Amaikar, who came to Lithuania six years ago and says he thrives in his new country, where winter temperatures plunge to -27 degrees Celsius.

Sigitas Mankus, the shop's director, is unapologetic. Asked if he was discriminating, Mankus replied, "I see no point in reacting." He said he had no intention of changing his fee structure. “Some people buy tires for 99 litas while others pay 400 litas—why is that?"

A spokesman for the Ombudsman said if race discrimination is proved, a fine of up to 2000 litas (580 euros) could be imposed.

Additional information for this story contributed by Darius James Ross in Vilnius.