It is evident to every Lithuanian citizen that the publication of the State Security Department (VSD) report is linked to Eligijus Masiulis and Dalia Grybauskaitė‘s correspondence story, former VSD director Mečys Laurinkus told lrt.lt.
The former Lithuanian intelligence head reacted this way regarding the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) declassifying a VSD report, which reveals how the MG Baltic group attempted to influence politicians, their decisions, state institutions and even political party chairman elections in such a direction during 2006-2017, which would benefit itself.
The report, which lrt.lt has reviewed presents excerpts of journalist Tomas Dapkus‘ correspondence with the heads of the MG Baltic group, politicians and state officials. The VSD document states that T. Dapkus was an intermediary for MG Baltic and performed acts akin to blackmail, the journalist apparently actively sought to control matters in the Centre of Registers, attempted to influence the courts, State Tax Inspectorate and other institutions.
“I believe that it is obvious to every Lithuanian citizen that it is linked to the topic of the president and E. Masiulis’ correspondence. I do not know if there is anyone, who would think otherwise,” M. Laurinkus said, when asked why the VSD report only saw the light of day now.
The head of state strikes back?
LRT reminds that the VSD report on MG Baltic efforts to influence political processes was released to the public after a recent scandal, where the Lietuvos Rytas daily released correspondence between President Grybauskaitė and former Liberal leader, currently suspect in the political corruption case, E. Masiulis, where during her discussions with the politician on candidates to the post of prosecutor general, the head of state wrote that LNK journalist T. Dapkus is “talking nonsense” about Evaldas Pašilis and suggested to “convey greetings” to the head of MG Baltic Darius Mockus, who owns the television, for him to “withdraw his hound.”
D. Grybauskaitė herself has stated she is unable to verify the authenticity of the emails sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, however she admitted having sought support among politicians when deliberating on the candidacies for the prosecutor general and that she may also have spoken sharply regarding the journalist, however she denied the version that she coordinated the candidacies with MG Baltic via E. Masiulis.
The publication of this correspondence was accompanied by talks of impeachment against D. Grybauskaitė, however according to M. Laurinkus, it was immediately clear that the majority would not dare it and after the VSD report on MG Baltic’s activities, the head of state was fully secured.
“There won’t be any impeachments, any investigations, nothing, but there are extra efforts for it not to happen. I believe that everyone is making efforts that is both part of the news media and of politicians, who unambiguously support the president. A large number of them. I can see such efforts,” M. Laurinkus commented.
Gediminas Grina, who led the VSD 2010 through 2015 accented to lrt.lt that the publication of intelligence data is a decision that without a doubt has a political undertone, however, he was in no rush to make the conclusion that this could be a step by D. Grybauskaitė.
“From my paranoid side, I would say that I believe all versions until one is specified. But let us go back to the start. First, a classified report is received, afterward intent to declassify it surfaces. What is the intent? Unilaterally political because it is difficult for me to believe that the VSD wanted to declassify the report. […] It is easiest to say that the publication was due to E. Masiulis’ letters, but it could be just a cheap variant. There could be larger undercurrents,” G. Grina stated.
He also highlighted that the publication of the VSD report could also have been a step of politicians working in the NSGK, which is performing an inquiry on interest groups influence on politicians.
“The inquiry is currently overseen by the NSGK, to my understanding this is directly linked that the president wanted, I would definitely not dare because there may be other parties interested in publication. Let us not forget there are three Homeland Union members in the committee,” G. Grina spoke.
The VSD report encompasses a period of more than a decade, during which a number of cases have been observed where the MG Baltic group attempted to influence politicians in the country, their and state institution decisions and a party founded in 2006 (potentially the Liberal Movement) was a political power fully under control of the businessmen.
Why were steps not taken, with such information available, to prevent MG Baltic efforts to brusquely expand its influence?
Former VSD head M. Laurinkus stated he believes that the intelligence information must have been known by chief state officials, however it would appear it did not seem dangerous to them. According to him, in this case it should be understood that MG Baltic activities for a long time were not perceived as crimes, thus responsibility on the businessmen’s efforts to influence state decisions falls on the politicians themselves.
“The criminal actions are not so much those of the company. It can perform lobbying, but there are those, who take it, who agree to help – whether by leaking information from a state institution or taking a bribe and that’s already another matter. In other terms, there are politicians, who agree with it and not the company heads, who are seeking to expand their influence, who also try to participate in electoral campaigns. The responsibility in this matter is less theirs and more the other side’s,” M. Laurinkus explained.
Threat to D. Jauniškis
The VSD report states that information on MG Baltic is constantly passed on to the Special Investigation Service, however according to G. Grina, it would appear that the VSD took up certain functions, which don’t belong to the department. According to him, the impression arises that the VSD took up the role of police here.
“What activities here are incriminating? Are these crimes or are they not? Intelligence information is intended for either intelligence or for politicians to make political decisions. The information is gathered and afterward classified because decisions are made regarding permits to work with classified information.
If there are crimes, then information must immediately be handed over to law enforcement. This is what we did during my tenure in the VSD. If we see that there are criminal activities, then we immediately handed it over to law enforcement because investigating crimes is not within the VSD’s remit,” the former head of the VSD said.
“If those groups have links to Russia or other hostile states, then it is a completely other opera, a different game. If there is no Russia here and just some financial interests, then I don’t know what the VSD could be doing here. We have the FNTT, the STT, if it is linked with corruption, politicians, then what else does the VSD have to do with this?” the former head of the VSD questioned.
G. Grina also noted that the VSD report being published with the corruption trial nearing, where suspicions will be cast on MG Baltic, could backfire against current intelligence head Darius Jauniškis.
“I believe that there is such a risk because usually It is easiest to “channel” all the problems at the head of the VSD, especially when the situation is currently volatile. […] It is hard to tell what will happen in politicians’ heads. Perhaps they will decide that this intelligence head has done his work and that’s it? It will be very easy to fire him,” G. Grina said.