On Wednesday, it turned out that Valery Ivanov, Algirdas Paleckis and several other Lithuanian citizens were arrested for spying. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis took to speaking how foreign intelligence agencies seek to influence Lithuania’s internal political life, lrt.lt writes.
Seimas National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) chairman V. Bakas assures he has no doubt that there will be more information on the situation because law enforcement institutions announced the arrest only after a month of the event.
“It would seem that we will find out ever more because the principles of the penal process (one of them being publicity) demand it. […] We must remember that after all there is a pre-trial investigation and all the presumptions apply. Including the presumption of innocence. It is especially important for politicians. If we push too hard with diagnoses, concluding on blame, we could later have major problems, same as with other famous cases,” V. Bakas highlights.
M. Laurinavičius points out that often, when talks turn to spying, people unsuitably imagine what spies are and how they perform their activities. According to the expert, most people imagine that spies act like in action movies.
“I think that people, who talk about spying, especially that of Russian spies, are imagining based on James Bond or Stierlitz. If we are to talk about spying, hostile Russian activities, we should probably start from how even Russian cadre officers, spies, who work in embassies and not only, most of the information they gather […] is publicly accessible,” M. Laurinavičius emphasises.
According to him, even if a person is recognised by the public and their hostile position is known, they can still be used to gather information: “I believe that in this case, we know most of the names, which are now minded by those structures (I mean, Russian ones), viewing them as trustworthy people. An entirely other matter is the quality of their information, their level and such, but they are trustworthy, they can be used and are used. […] We know of them. Others that we do not know of are also used.”
With A. Paleckis’ views having long been familiar to the public, M. Laurinavičius reminds that this is an individual, who spent many years in Lithuanian politics. “Let us not forget that he was a member of the influential Social Democratic Party. […] To think that he did not retain any connections from those times and that no one from those times talks to him, that would be completely naïve. You can, say, even establish new networks with people. Through him, you can find out information from other sources and all,” the expert states.
V. Bakas also believes that claims, which downplay the role of a supposed spy are often rushed. He notes that often those commenting such situations do not know the scale of suspicions cast against the suspect, the scale of the spying network.
“I am inclined to agree with Mr. Laurinavičius that we view these stories too primitively. Let us remember that quite recently Mr. Paleckis almost won the elections in Naujoji Vilnia. He has several thousand followers. This is not an isolated individual. Several thousand. You need around ten thousand votes to become a member of Seimas. He was once just a step away from becoming mayor,” V. Bakas reminds.
According to the politician, even the infamous declaration by A. Paleckis that there was “friendly fire” on January 13 is not all that simple: “Just look at the scandal it caused, what harm the continuing narrative of “friendly fire” caused. Discrediting history. It is destructive activities.”
V. Bakas also adds that arrests on such people do not mean that danger to Lithuania vanishes: “We should not think that the world or Russia ends with these suspects we know of right now. This is just one of the episodes, one of the mountain peaks. It is also a case, which matches the indications of a crime. However, there can be no doubt that there are more suspect individuals in Lithuania, who are monitored by the special services, who cause concern for both politicians and the public.”