Environment minister off the hook

Kęstutis Trečiokas
DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

The commission considered investigation evidence, handed to it by prosecutors who suspected that the minister could have been involved in pressuring the government into passing a decree last September.

Commission chairman Romas Valentukevičius said that Trečiokas did not have a clash of interest, but that he might have violated political ethics.

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The investigation, which was conducted by Kaunas prosecutors but later dropped due to lack of evidence to bring criminal charges, looked into a government decree passed last September that lifted zoning requirements for constructions in resort areas. Prosecutors suspected that Minister Trečiokas was pressured by Druskininkai Mayor Ričardas Malinauskas, who is linked to dubious construction in the town’s centre, to push the resolution through.

The Kaunas prosecutors have handed over the investigation data, including transcripts of phone conversations between Trečiokas and Malinauskas, to the VTEK. The phone conversations show that Malinauskas has asked Trečiokas to urge the government to pass the resolution and Trečiokas has promised to do so.

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“We decided to return the investigation material to prosecutors so they can hand it to competent watchdog institutions that should consider the actions of Trečiokas and Malinauskas and see whether they violated the Code of Politicians. We cannot judge that because it is beyong the VTEK scope,” Valentukevičius said.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius previously said he would decide whether to ask Trečiokas to step down once the VTEK handed its conclusion.

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Commenting on the commission’s decision, Butkevičius said that Trečiokas will stay on as environment minister.

“Lawyers, both independent and from the Government Chancellery, had presented their reports, saying no laws had been broken. I am glad that the VTEK gave its own conclusion, saying there was no clash of interest. The environment minister stays on,” Butkevičius said.

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