A copy of the State Security Department (VSD) report to the National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) Delfi has obtained reveals in what ways the MG Baltic group aimed to influence state institutions, politicians and political processes, entrenching its interests.
It is surfacing that the MG Baltic business group, which is now awaiting court proceedings already prepared a long-term development strategy in 2002 in order to ensure its financial benefit and personal influence, to which end politicians, state officials and officers were to be employed.
They were drawn in by gathering confidential or compromising information on them, by bribing, blackmailing and manipulating them. In many such cases, news media owned by MG Baltic were made use of, through which “pressure” was made or offers for advertising, including political advertisement, were made.
As the report outlines, the group pursued its goals through a party supposedly established at its initiative – the Liberal Movement and also aimed to influence the Social Democrats.
“In 2006 when a party fully controlled by MG Baltic was established (assumed to be the Liberal Movement), over more than a decade, the group became the most influential Lithuanian business (influence) group: other business groups did not create analogous connections in the political sphere, did not directly control influential news media outlets, most of their activities were not as aggressive,” the report states.
Aimed to “move” business competitors
When constructing the scenario of influence on political processes, the report mentions party “restructuring”: it is believed that the Liberal and Centre Union (LiCS), led by Artūras Zuokas, split the founding of the Liberal Movement in 2005-2006 and the control of this political power continued through 2006-2018.
The report outlines that around 2005, with the MG Baltic group’s intent to strengthen its influence in the Vilnius municipality and through it develop the group companies’ activities in the construction and real estate sector, apparently president Darius Mockus developed an interest to eliminate his main competitor and the business structure related to him (names hidden), which would obtain the largest orders in projects being implemented in Vilnius.
Based on the circumstances of the time, it can be thought that in this case the talk is about the then very active, but heavily shaken by the 2004 political corruption scandal involving raids of four major parties (the Homeland Union, Lithuanian Social Democrat Party, New Union and LiCS) offices, Rubicon Group (now Icor).
This business structure was at the time linked to the then Vilnius mayor and LiCS leader Artūras Zuokas, as well as some other LiCS members, who would soon become the founders of the Liberal Movement – Eligijus Masiulis, Gintaras Steponavičius and others, who had then drawn law enforcement attention.
In the pursuit of its goals, the MG Baltic group apparently chose a “political” scenario – divide (thought to be A. Zuokas’ LiCS) and establish a party factually controlled by MG Baltic. Apparently, the then MG Baltic VP and now suspect in the corruption case R. Kurlianskis was apparently especially active in the founding process of the party, having intensively interacted with certain LiCS members and having given directives, how the politicians who opposed (ostensibly A. Zuokas) should act.
Apparently, the group also chose the newly founded LS’ leader “because the other pretender was viewed as unsuitable.”
Delfi reminds that the candidates to the post of Liberal Movement chairman for the party founded on February 25, 2006 was the then Seimas vice Speaker G. Steponavičius, MPs Eligijus Masiulis, Petras Auštrevičius and Kęstutis Glaveckas, as well as MEP Eugenijus Gentvilas. P. Auštrevičius was then chosen as chairman.
Links brought up several years ago
On May 2016 A. Zuokas spoke on a Lietuvos Rytas show about having known already in 2004-2005 of the links between his former party members and MG Baltic.
“The links could be seen that a major business and specifically MG Baltic was influencing the creation of the LS. That the aforementioned business group was always one of the greatest backers, financers and supporters of the party was no secret to us. E. Masiulis, E. Gentvilas, G. Steponavičius, R. Šimašius and other individuals have long been in the party. When I was first elected chairman and won against E. Gentvilas in the elections, I felt opposition from that group because they are as if one team,” the politician said at the time.
He also stated that in 2006 when he was Vilnius mayor, he called on the Special Investigation Service (STT) in writing to take preventative action.
“The major business groups split the party, the group remained in the city council, Remigijus Šimašius left the council because at the time he led the Free Market Institute, which is also linked to the MG Baltic group,” A. Zuokas said in 2016.
Contacted by Delfi on Monday, the former LS leader, accused in the corruption case, E. Masiulis stated that by presenting such a report the VSD must “either in court or elsewhere prove such matters.”
“You know, it would be very weird for me to comment on something that has nothing to do with reality. The things we were called on splitting away from A. Zuokas. After all, we were first “the party of Dujotekana.” So how did we suddenly become the MG Baltic party? I believe that such valuations must be legally justified. And now it is just a mash of musings, more akin to a political text than a document from a dignified institution,” he said.
The report shows that upon breaking apart the LiCS, the group tried to strengthen the LS in 2009 by attaching a part of LiCS, by antagonising them internally, creating a conflict between its former leader (ostensibly A. Zuokas) and the then leader of the party (Gintautas Babravičius was the head of the LiCS in 2009).
“Perhaps tell him that the former chairman did some steps in order to sully him on the occasion,” “add some oil to the fire,” the correspondence is quoted.
Wanted to be rid of A. Brazauskas
The VSD report reveals that the group also formed a long-term project in order to influence the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP). The report writes that with a crisis occurring in the LSDP last year “the group’s leaders are seeking to retain influence in the party: continue working based on a tried and proven tactic – backing a leader of their choosing.”
Specifically during the LSDP split in 2017, journalist Tomas Dapkus was involved in the process.
The document outlines that already in 2005, during a parliamentary investigation (this is believed to be an investigation of LSDP leader and then Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas family’s transactions of the stock of the Crowne Plaza hotel (formerly Draugystė [Friendship]), which the family owned. The investigation was started on Novemeber 8, 2005 at the initiative of the opposition), MG Baltic leaders actively and by all means aimed to obtain their desired conclusion to the investigation, which is believed to be A. Brazauskas’ resignation.
It is specified that D. Mockus “pressured” a social democrat (name hidden) to convince, it is believed LSDP group members, to agree with the Seimas commission’s conclusions on an interpellation. With the group hesitating, D. Mockus apparently threatened via text message: “You’re in for it now,” and on December 11, 2005, an LNK news show displayed a negative report on the circumstances regarding how A. Brazauskas’ wife obtained the hotel.
The investigation was not completed back then with A. Brazauskas declaring to his party members that his wife’s name will not be dragged around various commissions as he would withdraw from the post of prime minister.
In this context the report presents a decoded conversation, whose participants were D. Mockus, an individual whose name is withheld (suspected to be current Lithuanian Social Democrat Labour Party chairman, then A. Brazauskas’ replacement in the post of prime minister Gediminas Kirkilas) and R. Kurlianskis. D. Mockus wrote the message “Moral (redacted)? You’re involving criminals into the official delegation.”
The unspecified individual answers: “Who?” To this D. Mockus responds: “The supported favourite. Kristė’s and the leader’s business partner.” Another message: “Buzzard. It’s not hard to guess when you don’t pretend.”
The unspecified individual (believed to be G. Kirkilas) writes to D. Mockus: “Not impeached by his friends yet. I am in Prague, returning tomorrow. Going fishing the day after. Drop by.” D. Mockus responds: “And regarding Friendship (ostensibly the hotel) it will be uncovered, you will accuse the media again.”
The unspecified individual responds to D. Mockus: “We never do it, but if there’s fear of presenting the information, it’s another problem.”
R. Kurlianskis writes to D. Mockus: “What did the field marshal say (ostensibly G. Kirkilas)?” D. Mockus: “He’s bullshitting. Perhaps the leader should be met with a camera? Ask why he didn’t take the pickle (believed to be the then Labour Party chairman Viktor Uspaskich). Perhaps he’s too moral?”
Unexpected favourite forgotten by all
The report shows that prior to the 2007 municipal elections, a plan was made to strengthen MG Baltic positions and influence in the Vilnius municipality. For this, a candidate for the post of Vilnius mayor, which would be backed, was chosen.
From the report, where names are redacted, the impression may arise that the group held the LSDP candidate as a favourite – the party proposed the later scandalous Algirdas Paleckis, in a surprise move to their Order and Justice partners, as their candidate to Vilnius mayor.
The VSD document states that with the candidate backed by the group taking the post of vice mayor, R. Kurlianskis remained in contact despite discontent that the politician’s positions in the Vilnius municipality were not what was expected – apparently MG Baltic was planning that the individual would take key positions.
The document quotes R. Kurlianskis’ message to the politician: “Take the position (ostensibly vice mayor). Take adm (ostensibly municipal administration director) positions. Vice mayor, administrative director, city management.”
The document outlines that with the unspecified politician refusing the post of vice mayor in charge of the city’s management and development, R. Kurlianskis became angry: “Delfi says that you refused the important status of vice – city management and development!!? Don’t joke around.” During this period it was announced that A. Paleckis agreed to take the position of deputy mayor in charge of culture instead of vice mayor in charge of city development and energy.
The report outlines that in 2008, with the politician, whose name was not specified withdrawing from his post, his links to MG Baltic became episodic. It was specifically in 2008 when A. Paleckis relinquished his post in the city administration.
Participated in the Social Democrat chairman elections
The document outlines that in spring 2017, the MG Baltic group actively participated in what is thought to be the LSDP chairman elections. It is written that T. Dapkus participated directly in this process and he was curated by the then VP of MG Baltic R. Kurlianskis.
Apparently, the group was aiming for a favourable chairman to be elected – relations were established with the selected individual since 2014 and T. Dapkus apparently personally sought compromising information about the politician’s competition.
From the available information, it can be believed that the group was seeking victory for someone other than current LSDP head Gintautas Paluckas. With the latter becoming chairman, the journalist apparently actively acted in other parties in an effort for them to ignore the politician and seek to harm him.
It is written that apparently on November 2017, T. Dapkus directed: “I didn’t forget that question, my colleagues in Italy are gathering information and we will have objective information.” A few months ago, information surfaced that G. Paluckas’ brother Danas Paluckas, who held a high post in the LSDP, had not revealed that in 2006 a court in Venice had convicted him to 4 months of imprisonment and a 100 euro bribe, with the crime being committed in 2002.
In summer 2017 when rumblings began in the LSDP regarding their “Farmer” partners in the ruling coalition and G. Paluckas initiating a survey within the party, which brought the LSDP out of the coalition at the end of the year and the withdrawal of party members who were against it, T. Dapkus apparently campaigned certain social democrats to not support the move into the opposition. Apparently the LSDP representatives were urged to impeach G. Paluckas and take party leadership from him.
It is believed that the then Minister of Finance Rasa Budbergytė was the target of such agitation. With her apparently not obeying (she remained in the LSDP), T. Dapkus initiated publications about the employment of her husband in the Property Bank, which is subordinate to the Finance Ministry.
Billion litas procurements from Lietuvos Geležinkeliai
From the VSD material, it can be seen that MG Baltic aimed to influence not only parties, but also state institutions through its representatives. One of them was Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (LG). On December 2008, MG Baltic representatives began forming a scheme of how to win the competitions by Ministry of Transport and Communications subordinate companies and institutions, which would ensure long-term profitable operation for the group’s company Mitnija.
The main Mitnija partner in LG competitions was the company Kauno Tiltai. Both these companies together with other partners won LG procurements in 2009-2013 worth over a billion litas. The VSD notes that LG and MG Baltic unofficial agreements were overseen by the group’s president Darius Mockus himself.
While Mitnija and Kauno Tiltai won LG competitions in only 2013, the large scale of these allowed securing income to 2016. Both these companies were especially interested in the reconstruction project for the roadway Vilnius-Utena, for which investment could reach more than 90 million euro.
Interest in real estate and legislation
From the VSD report, it can be seen that MG aimed to influence the ministries of healthcare and education and science. The main interest was in the construction projects of university hospitals in Vilnius and Kaunas. Also – university reform, science valley projects (due to construction and real estate).
It is explained that primarily, MG Baltic leaders were traditionally interested in major commissions in construction. University reform interested the group due to the opportunity to obtain university buildings, valuable real estate objects.
MG was also interested in the Ministry of Justice, rather construction and IT projects in institutions subordinate to the ministry: Department of Prisons and Centre of Registers. The VSD specifies Tomas Dapkus as the main acting MG representative.
According to the VSD, the interests of the heads of MG and T. Dapkus in the Justice Ministry were linked with the group and personally T. Dapkus’ plans to implement major state financed projects in companies and institutions subordinate to the ministry (for example projects by the Prisons Department). One of the most appealing was the e-health project, with MG and especially T. Dapkus striving to control the situation in the Centre of Registers. However, with the Centre of Registers being made subordinate to the Ministry of Transport and Communications last year, an unfavourable situation arose for T. Dapkus: he understood that the government would take over the Centre of Registers’ IT projects.
The Ministry of Economy did not avoid MG. The group was interested in construction projects and EU funding. It is stated that the group was interested in maintaining loyal individuals in the Ministry of Economy, which administrates the provision of EU support.
The VSD also mentions attempts to “adjust” the legal base in a favourable direction to MG Baltic. The main individuals involved in this are identified as being D. Mockus, Romanas Raulynaitis, R. Kurlianskis, T. Dapkus and LNK director Zita Sarakienė.
According to the VSD, with a political party fully controlled by MG Baltic being founded, the group’s representatives took action, which sought favourable amendments for MG, which would allow the group to obtain exceptional business conditions. MG was interested in alcohol control, national radio and television legislation, as well as a number of others.
It is announced that around 2007 MG and its representatives and those with authorisation from the group systematically sought to influence politicians and officials so that legislation would be passed or blocked to create favourable conditions for the group.
There is also discussion of efforts to influence the judiciary. “MG leaders and their intermediary T. Dapkus were actively involved in seeking a close contact network not just among politicians and influential officials, but also highly ranked judiciaries. In certain cases they simply managed to build contacts, in other cases – maintain mutually favourable connections,” the VSD report writes. According to it, R. Kurlianskis and T. Dapkus are interested in appointments in the courts, contact court representatives, discuss judge appointments. This is proven by T. Dapkus’ conversations presented in the report.
There are also mentions of attempts to make influence through controlled institutions – the State Tax Inspectorate, Competition Council, Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission. It is clear from the report that in all these institutions MG had its representatives, through whom favourable decisions were pursued for the group.
MG representatives also constantly gathered information about changes in law enforcement institutions, organised meetings with representatives in prosecutor’s offices, maintained contact with the prosecutors of the Vilnius and Kaunas districts. Law enforcement officials, who served the group’ interests the most were identified later in the group.
When interacting with law enforcement, a traditional modus operandi of MG was employed – publish or not publish articles, which could hamper the official’s future career.
According to the VSD, R. Kurlianskis, who curated the MG news media outlets, has cooperated with T. Dapkus, who works in the companies, for a number of years, with Dapkus “becoming in the long term an intermediary, who represents the interests of MG leaders, who not only establishes connections with politicians and state officials, but also gather information useful to himself and the group, later using it as a tool of blackmail and manipulation.”
According to the VSD report, through their manipulation of information and distributing it through news media channels, R. Kurlianskis and T. Dapkus, as well as representatives of news media outlets not owned by the group, who cooperated in gathering information on unfavourable or/and desired to influence individuals, not only acted with selfish intentions, but also influenced political processes. “The aforementioned activities, which have signs of blackmail, can be viewed as abuse of the constitutional right to obtain and distribute information,” the VSD concludes.