Lithuania’s interior minister steps down

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius later accepted Barakauskas’ resignation, the Ministry of the Interior said.

“The prime minister signed Barakauskas’ resignation letter and will submit it to the president today,” Evelina Butkutė-Lazdauskienė told BNS, adding that the prime minister trusted the minister.

Barakauskas, 62, is a member of the Order and Justice party, part of the ruling coalition.

The prime minister’s spokeswoman told BNS the interior minister’s resignation is not related to the ongoing pre-trial investigation into alleged corruption and added that the prime minister trusted the minister.

The minister has come under fire lately after the Special Investigation Service launched a probe into suspected corruption in the Ministry of the Interior. Two former members of Barakauskas’ team were briefly detained as suspects in the case.

While the prime minister said he trusted Barakauskas, the opposition initiated procedures to have him removed.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said last week it had launched a pre-trial investigation in cooperation with the Special Investigation Service into possible corruption in public procurement contracts involving staff of the Ministry of the Interior and other people.

Searches were carried out at the offices and homes of the suspects as well as at the headquarters of the ruling Order and Justice party.

Former vice-minister of the interior Algimantas Juocevičius and former adviser to the minister Ervinas Raistenskis, TV producer Rolandas Skaisgirys, public enterprise Pradas Media director Justinas Garliauskas and Peisachas Kacerginskis, head of company NTService, were initially detained for two days but later released on signed written promises not to leave the country.

“Too much trust in his team”

According to Prime Minister Butkevičius, Barakauskas had too much trust in members of his team.

Butkevičius also stressed that Barakauskas’ resignation is not related to an ongoing investigation into possible public procurement-related corruption involving staff of the Ministry of the Interior.

“His management style involved delegating a lot of powers to his advisers and vice-ministers, and his trust in his team seemed to have been too big. When you don’t have very strict accountability and deadlines, then, probably, some people like to abuse their office,” Butkevičius said.

In his words, the interior minister spoke about plans to resign even before the investigation. According to Butkevičius, Barakauskas wanted to leave after undergoing a surgery but the prime minister then talked him into staying.

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